James Allen hits back

After eight years as ITV-F1 commentator James Allen will commentate on his final live Grand Prix – for the time being at least – at Interlagos this weekend.

In that time he’s been subject to a huge amount of criticism, much of it coming on internet forums and blogs.

In a retrospective look at his time with ITV-F1, Allen has finally spoken about his reaction to the criticism:

I was always pretty confident that when Murray decided to retire I would get the gig, but never anything less than utterly self-critical and seeking to improve with every race and every year, which I think I?ve done.

It?s a very difficult and high-pressure job, because with 20 cars there are 20 different points of focus.

You have to read the race, using a TV picture and the timing screens, while speaking at the same time and still leave spare brain capacity for talking to the producer and thinking about what comes next.

And as it?s live and it?s all happening very quickly it?s very easy to make a mistake, which is why you always need to allow yourself a margin.

Having a brilliant communicator like Martin Brundle as a partner helps a great deal too.

I take a journalistic approach to commentary, I?m a storyteller; it?s my job to tell the story, not to be the story.

Of course there are many people at home in their armchairs who think they could do it better and one of the challenges for me was that I replaced Murray just as the internet opened up to allow everyone to have their say in chat rooms and forums.

But I know from market research and viewer feedback that the pros massively outnumber the vocal minority of cons.

I?m very proud of the work that we have done with the North One production team over the years and we have 2 BAFTAs and 12 Royal Television Society awards to prove that the TV industry, like most viewers, rate our work very highly.

Read the article in full here and have your say below.

More on ITV-F1’s final race: ITV F1: goodbye or good riddance?

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41 comments on James Allen hits back

  1. Alex Cooper said on 2nd November 2008, 9:18

    Interestingly, F1 Racing Magazine has James Allen up against their ‘Reader Panel’ where readers (subscribers?) can ask him questions..

    This month, as the 2008 season comes to a close, we’ve collared ITV F1 commentator James Allen for an F1 Racing-style grilling. He’s a love-hate figure for millions of F1 fans across the world; but in addition to being the ‘voice of Formula 1’, Allen is an accomplished F1 journalist and author. During almost 20 years in the sport, he’s written books with Michael Schumacher, observed the rise of Lewis Hamilton and much more.

    If you were wondering what it’s like to work with Martin Brundle, how it feels to be the object of incessant criticism from fans of the sport you love or what it’s like to fill Murray Walker’s shoes…

    It can’t be a nice experience to put your all into your job knowing that the criticism is just waiting for you once you put your microphone down at the end of the race. In fact it must take a serious amount of control and self-belief.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of James Allen and I’ve been heavily critical of him both on here and through ITV-F1’s Contact page when I’ve been really wound up, but credit to him for standing up to it now. I think a large part of it – for me at least – is that James Allen is the front-man to the ITV team so to a large extent I focus my irritation with ad breaks towards him.

  2. Alex Cooper said on 2nd November 2008, 9:27

    Oh and in his early days he always looked that little bit smug…

  3. FuriousA said on 2nd November 2008, 12:32

    At least we dont have to hear him say “…Dives into the pits” ever again. There are so many adjectives to describe a car entering the pit lane, why oh why does it always have to remain the same!

    I for one will be wearing my “Stop the ****” t-shirt proudly today, in the hope that in some small way i might have contributed to his commentary career downfall…

  4. I actually like James Allen. Perhaps it is because the motorsport commentary I am used to on SpeedTV is quite poor. I think the presentation on ITV has been good and I hope that the coverage on the BBC will at least be of equal quality. No commercials will be nice, but here we get commercials every 5 minutes so that is not a huge gain from my perspective. Anyway, should James Allen not do the coverage for the BBC I will always enjoy his call of Button’s win.

  5. I think that James was great in fact i think he was so good that i would like to suggest that he come to australia and replace “rusty” and “cam” the commentators/hosts on australian tv. They are the absolute biggest most frustrating incompetents to ever be employed and i would do almost anything to get them off and put someone of james’ experience and reputation on instead. Please please move to sunny australia James!

  6. Chris Johnson said on 3rd November 2008, 1:31

    I watched a lot of ITV race broadcasts (via the internet), and anyone who complains about James Allen should be cursed with the US Speed TV crew. Allen is no Murry Walker, but Brundle is no James Hunt, either.

  7. Paige said on 3rd November 2008, 3:06

    I think this sums up James Allen’s career:


  8. edward said on 4th November 2008, 18:41

    i can think of so many people i would like to commentate. allen doesn’t even figure. he’s about as useful a motoring journalist as jeremy clarkson. way out his depth springs to mind.

  9. one last time james, what do those white stripes mean?

  10. been watching F1 for couple of years, and never found a problem with james allen, infact i was hoping he would move over to bbc, not just him but the whole team.

    intresting reading tho, i must say there are so many haters out there, but then again i can understand how you people feel.

    i cant stand that man utd fan clive tildsley now he is a bias english fan..

  11. tiff said on 21st March 2009, 13:15

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Result! The most annoying commentator in F1 TV history is not going to the BBC! Awww. Look on the bright side James, at least now you won’t have the worry of watching TV monitors and talking at the same time, a multitasking feat handled admirably well by Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Murray Walker, Damon Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart, James Hunt…….. errr, well, everyone apart from you, apparently….

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