For Jake Humphrey, life couldn’t have been much better for the past few years. His rise has been swift from lowly CBBC presenter to the accomplished F1 anchor on the BBC.
Jake married his childhood sweetheart Harriet in 2007 and Tuesday this week announced they were expecting their first child. His sports reporting/commentary career began as a match reporter for BBC radio in 2005 and also he became the face of American Football for the BBC.
He presented a daily afternoon show from the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and has co-presented 4 times the BBC’s end of year love in that is “Sports personality of the year”.
There was a lot of speculation when Sky landed F1 for 2012 that they desperately tried to persuade Jake to join Martin Brundle in their new venture. The importance of this failed coup has become especially evident when you listen to many people’s opinions on Sky’s anchor, Simon Lazenby. They feel he comes across as an F1 Jonny come lately and consider his style a little stilted and fawning toward the senior figures of the F1 world – in general lacking gravitas unlike Jake.
But the Beeb had the Olympics 2012 and the Euro’s, together with F1 to offer their highly prized home grown sports presenter. Sky could not compete.
Yet 2 weeks ago when I was in Belgium there was a surge of debate over whether Jake may be defecting to Sky in 2013, as he is out of contract with the Beeb at the end of 2012. This was refuted strongly by Jake via twitter, calling it “a scurrilous rumour”. When I questioned one of his colleagues on their opinion before Saturday Qualifying, they were adamant he would not go to Sky but shocked me completely by saying he would in all probability be leaving the BBC’s F1 team.
So, I now ask myself the question, did Jake’s colleague have advanced knowledge of the Humphrey household’s happy news? I think not.
Much as I respect Phil Duncan’s opinion on many things, I think he’s got the angle on Jake wrong in his Daily Mail article… BBC host Jake Humphrey considers his F1 future. Phil suggests the recent announcement that the Humphrey household is expecting its first arrival of pattering feet to be problematic for Jake and it is this that has caused him to reconsider continuing to present F1 for the BBC.
In actuality, the restriction to 10 live races a year on the BBC would be the perfect opportunity for Jake to reduce his international travelling and spend more time at home with his wife and new baby – as he’s stated he would wish to do. The BBC already demonstrated that they can deliver the non-live races without Jake’s presence. During the Euro finals he was working for them in Poland and was competently deputised for by Lee Mckenzie and David Coultard.
The real issue for the Beeb is that BT Vision get 38 live premier league games next year, and have targeted Jake Humphrey to anchor these matches. Jake’s passion is football and his beloved Norwich FC. Unfortunately due to tough economic times the live football on the BBC is patchy and the premier highlights slot, Match of the Day, is firmly occupied by a certain Mr. Lineker.
The only hope is that BT Vision would excuse Jake for what would be a few matches a year so he could continue covering the handful of live F1 events the BBC have that clash with the premier league season.
However, the pull of presenting weekly live football for BT Vision, may already have diverted Jake’s gaze away from the F1 role he has comfortably owned for the past 4 years – and the arrival of a new baby may appear as some kind of cosmic confirmation of his already deliberated exit from F1.
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