Channel 4 assembles groundbreaking Paralympic presenting team
Ahead of tomorrow's 'six months to go' milestone until the Paralympic Games, Channel 4 has today unveiled a groundbreaking line-up of presenters and reporters featuring top sports broadcasters, former Paralympians and new disabled talent for its coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in August. In line with the channel's vision on winning the broadcast rights to the Games, 50% of the presenters and reporters in the line-up will be disabled.
Channel 4 will clear its schedules across the network for the eleven days of the Games to commit more than 150 hours of coverage. It will be the biggest broadcasting event in Channel 4's 30-year history and the most extensive UK coverage that has ever been dedicated to the Paralympic Games.
Peak time live coverage of the Games on Channel 4 will be fronted by renowned sports broadcaster Clare Balding and TV presenter and former Paralympic wheelchair basketball medallist Ade Adepitan. Disabled Australian comedian Adam Hills, who hosted ABC's live coverage of the 2008 Paralympic Games Ceremonies in Beijing, will bring a combination of experience and quick wit to the peak evening highlights show.
Channel 4, E4 and T4 presenter Rick Edwards will also take up a key role in the presenter line-up after fronting four series of ‘That Paralympic Show' on Channel 4, while Sydney 2000 Olympic triple-jump champion Jonathan Edwards will bring his experience as a seasoned live multi-sports broadcaster.
Seven new faces in the line-up will come from Channel 4's talent search for disabled talent in 2010 including Irish presenter Daráine Mulvihill and former Royal Marine Arthur Williams, who will each anchor in-studio. They will be joined by new reporters on-location - former Paralympic swimmer Rachael Latham, sports reporter and wheelchair basketball player Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, former carpenter Martin Dougan, researcher Liam Holt and sports journalist Alex Brooker. All seven were chosen from hundreds of hopefuls in the talent search and put through rigorous training.
Long-standing Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow will anchor the channel's coverage of the Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Jon Snow has been the face of Channel 4 News since 1989 and has reported on some of the world's most historic events, including the release of Nelson Mandela and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Kelly Cates and Georgie Bingham also join as presenters and between them have an impressive resume of sports broadcasting experience including Sky Sports, ESPN, Setanta, Sky Sports News and the Premier League.
Additional on-location reporters including experienced sports broadcaster Sonja McLaughlan, former Paralympic middle-distance runner Danny Crates, former Paralympic swimmer Giles Long and ex-Olympic 400m runner Iwan Thomas. Details of the wider team, including commentators and pundits, will be released at a later date.
As the official UK broadcaster, Channel 4's coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be on air across the channel's network until midnight each day during the Games-time period as the channel commits to ‘all day every day' programming.
The team of presenters, who will broadcast in pairs, will co-host more than 150 hours of Games-time action across multiple platforms including Channel 4, More4 and online.
Jay Hunt, Chief Creative Officer at Channel 4, said: "Being the broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is a huge privilege and an opportunity for us to really make a difference to the perception of disability and disability sport in this country. I'm thrilled to announce this brilliant and carefully selected team of presenters and reporters; a mix of broadcasting heavyweights and new faces including disabled talent. Our coverage will contain in-depth analysis and intelligent, frank and thought-provoking insight from people who are equipped to bring these incredible but little-understood sports to a broad mainstream audience and help us to make this the biggest Paralympic Games ever."
Newly-commissioned breakfast and teatime shows will air each day of the Games, bringing both live sport and highlights to audiences of all ages at all times of the day. The channel's Paralympic coverage will be produced by the UK's leading specialist sports production companies, Sunset & Vine and IMG Sports Media, drawing on their considerable experience of multi-discipline sporting events.
"We will be on air before the sport of the day begins and until the last flag has been rolled up and put away with all the action, expert comment and analysis and specially commissioned breakfast and tea time shows. This is a 400% increase on the coverage The Paralympics has ever received in this country and will make it impossible to ignore," Jay Hunt added.
Coverage, including of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, will span both Channel 4 and More 4, to accommodate regular programming, while viewers will also be able enjoy live streaming and daily highlights on Channel 4's new interactive Paralympics website.
The new site channel4.com/Paralympics will also include profiles of all Paralympic athletes competing in the Games and offer educational information on the classification system that exists in Paralympic sport, with the aim of creating household names of British Paralympic athletes and educating the nation.
Over the course of 2012, Channel 4 will also be broadcasting the BT Paralympic World Cup and a range of Paralympic programming including a fourth series of ‘That Paralympic Show' and the final episodes of their ‘Best of British' series.
Notes to Editors:
Ade Adepitan MBE
Former Paralympic wheelchair basketball bronze medallist [Athens 2004], Ade Adepitan currently co-hosts Channel 4's ‘That Paralympic Show', bringing his expert knowledge of Paralympic sport and athletes to the fore. He has previously featured on many television programmes and series, including Eastenders and children's programme Xchange, as an actor, presenter or guest.
Clare Balding has previously presented both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. She is well-known as the face of Crufts on More4 and presented Famous and Fearless on Channel 4 in Jan 2011. She is also experienced in presenting Winter Olympics (2002 and 2006), Commonwealth Games (2006), rugby league, three-day-eventing, show-jumping, swimming, golf, tennis, bowls and darts.
Perrier Comedy Award nominee Adam Hill is best known for his role on the Australian music trivia show Spicks and Specks, which he has hosted since its premiere in 2005. In 2008, he co-hosted ABC's live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Paralympic Games. In the UK he has become a regular on the UK's ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks' and ‘Mock the Week'. Adam was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis which often becomes part of his bold and funny comedy act.
Jon Snow served as ITN's Washington correspondent and as diplomatic editor before joining the presenting team of the award-winning Channel 4 News in April 1989 and becoming its full time presenter four months later. Throughout his acclaimed presenting career, he has received multiple awards from the Royal Television Society, including Journalist of the Year for his reporting of Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East, and best Male Presenter.
A well-known face on Channel 4 and E4, Rick Edwards co-hosted T4 until July 2011. Rick currently co-presents Channel 4's ‘That Paralympic Show', launching for its fourth series later this year, and joined the line-up for the channel's coverage of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in August 2011. He has also hosted a Saturday evening radio show on XFM, entitled 'The Weekender', and was part of the presenting team for the 2007 Reading and Leeds Festival.
Jonathan Edwards MBE CBE
Former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World triple-jump Champion, Jonathan Edwards has held the world record in the event since 1995. Following his retirement as an athlete in 2003, he has worked as a sports commentator for two Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, and multiple live athletics championships. He also sits on the board of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games as the athlete representative.
Kelly has most recently presented for ESPN and the English Premier League Channel. In 2010 Kelly was part of ITV's World Cup coverage from South Africa. Kelly began her broadcasting career at Sky Sports and quickly established herself as the main face for the Sky Sports News Channel. During her time with Sky, Kelly covered the football World Cup, the European Championships and a host of other major sporting events including the America's Cup and Golden League athletics.
Georgie Bingham was the first female anchor on ESPN in America, and has worked at Sky Sports News since 2004. She has broadcast from a host of live sporting events, including Wimbledon and The Open. Her extensive career in sports presenting also includes stints at ITV, Sky News and TalkSport.
Arthur Williams is an ex-Royal Marine from Worcestershire who was left paralysed from the chest down after a car accident. Athur's move into presenting follows a successful sporting career, where he competed professionally in both wheelchair racing and handcycling. He has been heavily involved with the Help for Heroes charity and Aerobility.
Daraine Mulvihill is a broadcast journalist who previously worked as a researcher and presenter for children's television on Ireland's RTE channel in Dublin. She was voted Irish Person of the Year in 2001. Daraine has a passion for athletics and represented Ireland at junior level before contracting meningitis at the age of 16, when she had amputations on all four limbs.
Channel 4 talent search for disabled presenters
As part of Channel 4's pledge to bring disability sport to a mainstream audience and add authenticity to the coverage, the broadcaster launched a nationwide talent search in September 2010, to identify the best new disabled sports reporters and commentators to front the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The channel committed £500,000 to the search in order to reach its target of 50% disabled onscreen talent during the Games. Hopefuls from around the country were able to apply to the talent search by answering the question: "If you had three minutes of Channel 4 air time, what would you fill it with?" Entries were submitted as YouTube videos.
Photo caption (L - R):
Back row - Georgie Bingham, Rick Edwards, Jon Snow, Clare Balding, Adam Hills, Daraine Mulvihill, Jonathan Edwards, Alex Brooker, Kelly Cates, Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, Rachel Latham
Front row - Martin Dougan, Ade Adepitan, Arthur Williams, Liam Holt
Channel 4 Broadcast Partners
BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. BT has a history of support of disability sport within the UK spanning over twenty years when it became the first commercial partner of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) in 1989. Channel 4, in partnership with BT, recently launched a series of short films featuring a number of BT's ambassador athletes which focused on their mental and physical approach to competing and training.
Sainsbury's is the official supermarket partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the first ever Paralympic Games-only sponsor. The brand recently announced international footballer David Beckham as their official Paralympic ambassador to encourage children to take part in several of Sainsbury's initiatives, including the Million Kids Challenge and Active Kids 2012. Sainsbury's have also worked with Channel 4 to produce two series of short films with their ambassador athletes, including Ellie Simmonds.