Forum Replies Created
You said: The old midweek racing coverage on ITV used to include hand-written italic-style racing results, which I believe were written and collated by the man who read them, Peter Moor.
You said: The midweek programmes were produced by Thames Television and were very different in feel and personnel from World of Sport, produced by London Weekend/LWT.
You said: There was no list of the runners and riders, just a shot of the numbers board at the course, giving the names of the jockeys. The commentator gave the names of the runners and riders over this picture. Sometimes, the board men raised the board while he was reading them and it was taken down, leaving the commentator to carry on without it.
You said: The old BBC manually produced racing results gave the impression that they had been hand-written. They were italic-style but quite impressive looking for the time.
This is because they were handwritten. And literally the slates were manually loaded and removed. Impressive perhaps when introduced in 1965, less so by 1985! The runners and riders caption they used was always made with manual type faces and depending on the operator that day they would either pan the camera down or slide the caption (generally frowned upon as they were not supposed to touch the camera) as the list progressed.
Re: Tracks that used to be covered back in the day…
I can recall in the early 1980’s BBC Television would cover one day a year from Bath, Bangor, Leicester and Wincanton. I will check with some BBC staff I know but I am pretty sure these meetings were covered as BBC South West, BBC Midlands and BBC Wales each had a remit or agreement to cover a certain amount of live sports and in those days they would often use less experienced Producers and crew from those provincial areas so they could show their stuff. However, during this time, all of the graphics would have come from the bowels of television centre and cut in to the presentation -so in essence it was still very much London based no matter where they were covered.
And the BBC used manual captions until 1985 whereas the last non manual caption used by World of Sport was phased out in 1977 (at least for racing) though the big five ITV companies of the time, LWT, Thames, Yorkshire, ATV and Granada all swopped out at different times. So weekday racing still often had different hand made captions until channel 4 started experimenting with a more unified look on weekday coverage in 1984 but continued to use LWT’s graphics package until 1986, when they began using their own on weekend coverage, it having moved to C4 in November of that year.
Back in the 70’s the BBC definitely did the odd day at Wetherby.
I have the ITV6 from Hennessy day, 1981 and with the big race on the BBC the thrill packed ITV6 came from Wolverhampton and Market Rasen with about 3-6 horses per race. Dire stuff.
BBC Television definitely showed racing from Carholme in the 1950’s and Stockton on the 1960’s.
I can never remember Cartmel on ITV and I wonder if some posters are getting confused with the fact that around SIS’s opening day they showed Cartmel. Raleigh Gilbert was the commentator and quite a big to do was made as he was the first to call at all the courses in the UK?
Robin Gray’s dismissal from RTS (and it is hard to think it is nearly twenty years ago) was very upsetting to him.
He was (and remains) very well liked and was blessed with a very good voice for race calling. He could handle small or large fields with ease, set himself high standards and I spent many afternoons in his company. He was also much in demand at top quality tracks.
He was one of the few race callers that did not drop off in quality as they got older (Gilbert and Penney being the only other two that spring to mind) and was certainly a first class caller when he was taken off the list.
I said in my post it was my opinion and clouded by my experiences. Not sour grapes at all. And I am quite happy calling up to 100 days a year here in the USA, when in 2007, it was zero days, thank you very much.
Switching tenses is something the majority of Australian race callers have done for a very long time. When I have asked them the older ones point to John Tapp or Bert Bryant as their influences and the younger ones just do it because that became the accepted style.
While I think most race callers are glad people take interest in their work, you clearly seem to think you know the business better than you actually do.
It is very easy to pick holes in people from behind a computer, it is quite different to be the man in the arena. The commentators of the past who you often point too would be the first to tell you they had strengths and weaknesses, just as todays commentators do. What (most of us) share is the desire to improve our level of race calling. Every race we ask: "How could I have done that better?"
I learned from McGrath, Goode, Gilbert, Penney et al at a young age, often literally alongside them. They had patience (and I am sure I was a major league pain to them) but they took the time to help out someone who was a young teen to get on the road to where now I make a living. Unlike you, I have been there.
And those lessons still resonate today. There comes a point where if you are going to criticize callers to the degree you do, it is not unreasonable to invite you to call a few races so we can learn from your great amassed wisdom of race calling (and callers.) The invite is open…
Having read many many posts by you on the subject of commentators, there does come a point where one has to ask that as you seem to know so much about them (past and present) why not give it a try for yourself?
In my (not so humble) opinion Racetech are impossible to deal with. I am sure others would disagree and by all means say my experience with them clouds my judgement… it does. The Commentator User Group is made up of people who have never called races for a living. They never offer any constructive advice (not that they are really in a position to do so) one is never told what they are looking for beyond the most general terms and they either ignore you or just do not give you an answer when you are looking for feedback. Been there…done that…
I think the best way forward to develop new race calling talent is not to have competitions for the best lady caller or have a User Group decide who is worth a trial or not but to let certain experienced callers take a younger person under their wing and encourage them to practice calls at tracks and then when they feel they are ready, let them call a race or two with the goal of perhaps becoming an apprentice where they can call 1-2 races per day over a year or so when their mentor is on duty. This will give the trainee a lot of experience and a lot of time to learn tricks of the trade out in the field.
But then I would not expect Racetech to even think along those lines…
Agree entirely about your words regarding Raleigh.
I first met Raleigh when I was 12 and spent the afternoon with him in the C4 commentary box at Newmarket and John Penney was doing the down the course commentary.
Raleigh was always my favorite so it was a great thrill and I still have a couple of the color charts he gave me. He was a stickler for details and nearly tweny-five years on, I do my prep work in a very similar way and like to add snippets and info during the call. He was a very heavy smoker and was always the first guy in the press room. If I (as a teen practicing) sneaked in to get warm and do my work, he didnt mind but scowled a bit! However, he got very nervous before calling. After racing he was warm, humorous and convivial. He taught me a lot, though I did not realize it at the time. But the legacy of doing prep work was the greatest as well as using the intonation of the voice to denote a change in a race.
John Penney by the way is the only caller I can think of whose calls did not suffer with age. I think he called until he was 70 and his calls never went down hill. Can’t think of anyone else that applies too.
Regarding different styles from racecourse commentary to tv commentary you have to remember the discipline was different because there were different demands. It was not until SIS really came on the scene that RTS wanted their race callers to do any more than call the order. Indeed, some tracks preferred the callers to stop before the line and mentoning superfluous details was simply not done and not encouraged.
Another thing to remember is at least until the 1990’s some commentary boxes lacked monitors and optics in a well made $300 binocular in 2011 surpass the top of the line Zeiss made in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Fascinating thread this has become…
I think Darren Owen told me Michael Seth-Smith’s wife was a Lady In Waiting to the Queen Mother! For a couple of years he did part of the National on TV (late 60’s) and I think was part of the Radio Two commentary team until 1985. The few commentaries I have heard from him otherwise never impressed me. Very upper class and gave the impression he was talking about goings on far beneath his level!
Upthread, someone mentioned Ken Butler and I found his pic in the Racing Post. Doesnt really look much older from when I (just)remember him!
I think the best commentators in the 1970’s and 1980’s were the ones employed by ITV/Channel 4. John Penney, Raleigh Gilbert and Graham Goode were a cut above the others of the time. I often go looking on youtube for old races just to hear their voices and remind myself of how one day I wanted to be like them!
All three of these came to prominence during the time there was the changeover from black and white to colour television and having seen some of the positions they had to call from, I think the only limit to their abilities were those put in place by the circumstances they worked in. All three though could call a race through binoculars (and there are many callers now who just call off the monitor – shameful, imho) and if they were in their primes, I think all three would still be top commentators today.
Robin Gray was I think the best racecourse commentator of his time and should never have been let go by RTS when he turned 60. Blessed with a youthful voice and an engaging style, he caed deeply about the craft of race calling and spent a lot of time encouraging me. He still had a lot to offer.
Obama has been a terrible President. His health care scheme and spending will bankrupt us. He cannot work (unless forced) with anyone who does not share his viewpoint and has become a first class hypocrite. Telling people we must all make cut backs and have "some skin in the game" while going on six expensive vacations per year with his family.
I never thought I would say this but there are no Repubs worth voting for and I would love another Bill Clinton Presidency right now. But that is not going to happen.
Comparing commentators of different generations is always unfair. Today’s commentators have the benefit of multi tv camera coverage, often are calling from better positions than they did in yesteryear and the quality of information available to the modern racecaller is beyond the dreams of what O’Sullevan (for example) had in his prime. Even the quality of binoculars have progressed over the last fifteen years.
My favorite commentator, Raleigh Gilbert, was a very good commentator calling a race through binoculars. In hindsight, that may be seen to be only "techhnically average" but he did not have many of the advantages today’s callers have. Simply put, I would give up my earthly possessions to have his voice and delivery. Still, he is the example I try to emulate.
Indeed, commentators are often encouraged to call more off the monitor, today. Want to see who the best commentator is today? Give them a month without a TV in the commentary box and the best racereaders will come to the fore.
I use my binoculars for racecalling. Until recently, I used Zeiss 10×40’s. Way beyond your stated budget, pricewise. Simply, I find the 10x shake too much when I am calling.
I no longer use them even though they are excellent binoculars. Instead, I wanted a pair that I could use on a stand and hand hold at tracks where the commentary box is too small for my stand.
I settled on a used pair of Swift Audubon Porro Prism binoculars, 8.5×44. They have a very wide field of view and can be hand held with ease. They were designed for birdwatchers and make excellent binoculars for racing.
As a rule of thumb, a porro prism binocular will be of better quality than a roof prism binocular at the same price.
Here are some lower priced porro prisms, I have tried that I would be happy to use as a racecaller if I did not have my Swifts:
Nikon Action 7×35
Nikon Action 8×40
Pentax DCF II 8×40
Bushnell Legend 8×42 (My favorite)
Or you can go the used route. However, if buying off Ebay, they may need collimation.
In the UK, I would recommend dealing with my friends at Monk Optics. They even come out to racecourses sometimes with their wears. I would also feel free to purchase used from them. http://www.monkoptics.com Give them a call.
I would be happy to answer any other questions you have. Binoculars are one of my "anorak" hobbies!
OK, time to slap the limeys back over the atlantic!
R9: 10 (NAP)
Good luck y’all!
Quiz in 20 mins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sadly, owing to downed power lines in my area the Quiz has been postponed and my candles are running out!!!
Aussie Jim McGrath comes across a quiet a humourless character. Overly serious.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Before the days of the Scoop 6, when it felt special for Channel 4 to show double-headers. As I recall there was only Newcastle & Newmarket at the end of June, and Sandown & York the following week.
From 1988: Longchamp and Newmarket on Cambridgeshire Day.
From 1991; Doncaster and Dubai on Lincoln Day.
When World of Sport finished in September 1985, and Saturday racing went to C4, there were lots of double headers through the remainder of the year as the contract finished.
You can remember hand written racing results on the BBC.
You can remember John Penney as the #1 commentator on ITV.
You can remember top of the line Zeiss binoculars were not rubber coated.
You can remember when many jockeys had white colored skull caps.
You can remember such racing delights as Market Rasen and Wolverhampton (jumps) on the ITV7 on the same afternoon.