With Clare Lawrence British motor racing commentator Ben Edwards has voiced television coverage for not only one, but many motorsports, from Formula One and Superleague Formula to the British Touring Car Championship. He has worked for the BBC, Eurosport, ESPN, ITV and F1 Digital+. He is now the main commentator for Formula One on the BBC, working alongside David Coulthard. Hi Ben! Thank you for taking time out to do this interview for the Costa Car Trader. You have been likened to F1 commentator Murray Walker, due to your enthusiasm and energy when commentating – Would you agree with this comparison? Hi Clare, I think that all commentators are unique and it’s difficult to compare one with another. I have massive respect for Murray and in fact at the British Grand Prix this year I worked alongside him for the first time in my career, which was a real honour. I do believe that passion and enthusiasm are vital ingredients of good commentary, and I am always hoping to infuse the viewer with some of the enjoyment that I feel when watching motorsport. Your first commentary position was with Tiff Needell – Was this the first time that you had met him and did you enjoy working with Tiff? I first met Tiff earlier that same year, 1987, when I was racing in a junior single seater formula myself, and he was reporting on the series for Top Gear. Combining journalism with driving racing cars was always a bit of a dream of mine, so he was someone I aspired to emulate, and it was a real pleasure to commentate with him. It seems funny now that I was the ‘expert’ commentator that day, because I had won the Championship for that type of car, and yet there I was sitting next to someone who had driven at Le Mans and in GP cars and knew far more than I did! I enjoyed working with him, and indeed we worked together as racing instructors on various events after that.
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You started your working life as a mechanic. Do you ever see any of the people that you worked with in those days? I was a mechanic in a Formula Ford team, a starter category where drivers first start becoming serious about chasing a career in the sport. One of the youngsters who worked on the same team as me is now the Team Manager at the Marussia F1 team, so we bump into each other at most of the GP’s. And one of the drivers that I worked with became -
one of my closest friends; he didn’t make it to F1, so he had to revert to his training as a dentist, and he sorts me out when I have toothache! 20 years broadcasting – You must have had some humorous moments. Can you tell me about one of them? When I was working for Eurosport, I would normally have to travel to their studios in Paris to do commentary on weekly magazine style programmes. One day the flights to Paris were messed up by fog, and time was ticking away to the start of my programme. My mother was still living near Gatwick, so I raced to her door, grabbed the telephone and started commentating from her living room while watching her TV as in the background she was shoving her friendly but excitable and loud Rottweiler dog back into the kitchen….It could have made a very strange soundtrack to a race.
Do you take part in any sport other than motorsport? I used to run to keep fit, but nowadays I’m doing more yoga. My wife trained as a yoga teacher last year, and I really enjoy the combination of increased flexibility, strength and focus that doing yoga can give you.
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different places but I have my base in the UK and I have never lived long term in a different country. That’s not to say I might not do so in the future, though. For all the rainy summers and immigration queues at airports, I do love England but I am not blinkered into thinking it’s the only place in the world and there are plenty of advantages to being elsewhere. Let’s say I have an open mind.
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How old are your children and do you think that they might follow in your footsteps? They’re in their early twenties; my step daughter is an illustrator and is working in London, while my stepson is a natural born salesman. He loves cars and racing and he regularly goes on camping trips to race circuits both in the UK and on the Continent with his mates. He definitely has the gift of the gab, and could talk the hind legs off a donkey, but I’m not sure he’s going to follow in my footsteps…. Thank you again Ben and I hope that you continue to succeed with your career. Perhaps we can do this again!
I have read that you once thought of moving to America for your career, but decided to stay in England. What made you stay? I have 2 step children who are now both working, but at the time they were at school and it would have been very disruptive to their lives to have shifted to America. Also, I had already commentated F1 for Eurosport and I was hopeful that I would be able to do so again for another broadcaster, and that was less likely to happen in the States. I spend a lot of time in Spain. Is there a country, apart from England, that you feel you live in?
To see more about Ben, you can visit his Entreprix website at: http://www.entreprix.co.uk
No; I travel a huge amount to various -
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