Lysaght exit the lat­est ex­am­ple of BBC re­plac­ing class with clap­trap


So Cor­nelius Lysaght, mas­ter of suave words, is go­ing from the air­waves and they think it is busi­ness as usual at Tower of Ba­bel HQ, also known as BBC Ra­dio sport.

It is not. For 30 years, Lysaght was the well-mod­u­lated voice of racing on the na­tion’s state-funded Beeb, their supremely well-in­formed cor­re­spon­dent on ev­ery­thing from the big horsey news to tit­tle-tattle gos­sip. He had ev­ery­one’s ear in that in­ces­tu­ous world and he was equally trusted by his in­for­mants and his lis­ten­ers.

But, hey, he is white and 54, and as you may have gath­ered, he is male, and the pow­ers that lust af­ter a youth au­di­ence be­lieve he is dis­pos­able.

one man’s im­mi­nent go­ing might not be a ma­jor sub­ject of na­tional de­bate if it were in iso­la­tion. But it isn’t a one-off. His de­par­ture from 5 Live forms part of a pat­tern that can­not be ig­nored.

Lysaght fol­lows Garry Richard­son, pre­sen­ter of the in­tel­li­gent

Sportsweek pro­gramme, which asked per­ti­nent ques­tions ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing, and Jonathan ov­erend, the cor­po­ra­tion’s fine for­mer ten­nis cor­re­spon­dent, in fil­ing out of the stu­dio.

Richard­son, it should be said, de­cided of his own vo­li­tion that he was light­en­ing his du­ties. But could not Sportsweek have taken on a new pre­sen­ter?

oh no. They have a cast of pun­dits spout­ing sec­ond-rate clap­trap and that is enough, it seems. Why em­ploy jour­nal­ists with knowl­edge and ex­per­tise, men and women who can go to the heart of the story, when you can have il­lit­er­ate nonen­ti­ties fill the space?

This, we should re­mind our­selves, is the BBC of John Ar­lott and Peter Jones, men whose phrase-mak­ing en­riched the English lan­guage in the name of sports broad­cast­ing. ‘The stroke of a man knock­ing a this­tle-top off with his walk­ing stick,’ as Ar­lott said of Clive Lloyd non­cha­lantly knock­ing an­other bound­ary in the first cricket World Cup.

Richard­son was a dis­ci­ple of that in­com­pa­ra­ble broad­caster Cliff Mor­gan, Welsh fly-half in ex­cel­sis. Mor­gan rev­elled in those who con­jured the telling words, a value he sought to pro­mote when he was him­self a high-up Beeb ex­ec­u­tive.

That was when there was a pre­mium on sub­stance. Con­trast that with The Squad, per­haps the most inane abom­i­na­tion ever to have tra­duced BBC Sport. Sun­day lunchtimes will never re­cover as the dic­tion-free crew man­gle ev­ery last sem­blance of syn­tax. Epi­grams, for­get it.

Why bother with re­portage when you can have an­other matey phone-in, where drunk, one-eyed Jim rings in to opine wit­lessly about a game he may or may not have seen?

What’s the value of re­porters when shock-jock Rob­bie Sav­age and his mother are avail­able?

There are still some out­stand­ing broad­cast­ers in the de­pleted depart­ment: Dan Roan, the Beeb’s best-ever sports ed­i­tor; John Mur­ray, whose ed­u­cated Ge­ordie ac­cent brings us bal­anced, in­formed in­sight; and Mike Costello, whose il­lu­mi­nat­ing in­to­na­tions on box­ing and athletics make the hair on one’s back stand on end.

There are oth­ers, but they are a di­min­ish­ing cast.

There is no in­ten­tion here to quell a le­git­i­mate in­ten­tion to usher in ‘di­ver­sity’, a dread word, but that should be based on tal­ent and not on quota.

And, just a thought, what leads us to pa­tro­n­ise the youth of to­day by believ­ing they can­not stom­ach in­tel­li­gent in­for­ma­tion?

Show them the stars as well as the dust, I sug­gest.


Mas­ters of the mic: Ov­erend (left), Richard­son and Lysaght will be sorely missed

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