BBC's Test Match Special under fire for its 'laddish' tone

Published: Monday, August 18, 2008, 14:29 [IST]
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London: The BBC's Test Match Special programme has come under fire from some of its most familiar voices amid claims that it is adopting a new 'laddish' tone.

Former England player Mike Selvey, who provided a ball-by-ball description of matches for the BBC's Test Match Special programme for 24 years before being axed from the presenting line-up, on Sunday Yesterday he launched a waspish attack on the programme, saying many of those now on air had "little knowledge of the game."

"Once upon a time Test Match Special was part of a great tradition of BBC radio," The Telegraph quoted Selvey, as saying.

His comments echo private criticisms from a handful of insiders who fear that the programme, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is relying on jingoistic support for England rather than impartial coverage.

Critics say the change in style follows the arrival of its new producer Adam Mountford last year, taking over from the Pater Baxter, who steered the programme for more than 30 years.

While household names such as Henry Blofeld, Jonathan Agnew and Christopher Martin-Jenkins remain central to the programme's commentary and summary line-up, a host of new presenters have been introduced in recent years including Five

Live's Arlo White, Mark Pougatch - a regular on football programmes - and boundary reporter Alison Mitchell.

"They must sit there with reference books on their laps, they just don't know enough about the game," one source close to the programme said.

A BBC spokesman confirmed that Selvey had been dropped from the line-up but insisted the programme would continue to be a Radio Four institution.

"We're constantly evolving and refreshing the team. People come and go all the time, to provide a balance of voices," he said.


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