UK terrestrial pubcaster Channel 4 has awarded the production contract for its coverage of the FIA Formula One World Championship to experienced independent sports production company Whisper Films.
The contract was awarded after a competitive tender process with production companies with Formula 1 credentials. The tender process was led by Ed Havard, Channel 4’s Head of TV Events and Sport, and Stephen Lyle – who has been promoted to the new role of Head of F1 – to a short timescale in order to meet the start of the season on March 20th.
It follows the news announced last month that Channel 4 would become the new terrestrial television home of Formula 1 from 2016-2018 – broadcasting ten live F1 races, practice and qualifying sessions each season as well as comprehensive highlights of all 21 Grands Prix and qualifying sessions.
Whisper Films was set up in 2010 by former BBC Sport F1 producer Sunil Patel, former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard and BT Sport and former BBC F1 presenter, Jake Humphrey. Channel 4 took a minority stake in the production company in 2015 as part of its Indie Growth Fund.
According to Channel 4, as well as demonstrating significant innovation and creativity in its approach to producing Formula 1 coverage, included within Whisper Film’s winning pitch was the signing of a number of key production personnel and presenters with extensive experience in the sport. These include Mark Wilkin, the editor of the BBC’s award-winning F1 coverage, as programme editor.
Thirteen-times Grands Prix winner David Coulthard is also announced as the first signing of the on-screen presenting team. He will bring his extensive knowledge from 15 seasons racing in Formula 1, as well as his considerable contacts in the sport, to Channel 4’s coverage.
The full presenting and commentary team will be announced in due course.
North One Television, which has a background in motorsports production, will also work with Channel 4 on a number of accompanying programmes to support Formula 1.
Ed Havard, Channel 4’s Head of TV Events and Sport said: “Whisper Films outlined an extremely impressive and exciting vision for their F1 coverage, with outstanding on and off screen talent as an integral part of their pitch. We are delighted that David Coulthard will be at the heart of Channel 4’s coverage and look forward to announcing the full presenting team in the coming weeks.”
Sunil Patel, Executive Producer for Whisper Films said: “Whisper Films has an unrivalled production team with over 20 years’ experience in Formula One and unique contacts throughout the sport. Channel 4 and the sport have talked about a new approach and we believe we are ideally placed to deliver this.”
David Coulthard said: “This is an exciting time for the sport and an exciting time for Whisper Films. The F1 World has been incredibly impressed with what Whisper has delivered over the last five years and Channel 4’s decision is testament to that. I’m looking forward to being part of an exciting new era for Formula One, with Whisper Films and our proven level of creativity and innovation very much at the heart of that.”