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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Do you want to be a sports commentator?


If you have a passion for sport and love talking about it then you should enter the BBC’s New Voices 2021, which aims to find the next generation of commentators.

Schemes like this have a proven track record of identifying some of the most talented commentators in the industry.

Among them is Vicki Sparks – the first woman to commentate on a televised World Cup game in the UK.

Here, Vicki and three other commentators tell their stories, plus you can find out how to apply.

‘A brilliant opportunity – I’d urge you to apply’

Vicki said: “I had never seriously considered becoming a commentator until a colleague convinced me to apply for the BBC’s scheme – and I’m so glad that I did.

“It was a brilliant opportunity to hone my skills in a supportive environment, while receiving top-class training and feedback. It allowed me to experiment with different ways of doing things, to hone my commentary voice, to make mistakes, and learn from them.

“When Rachel Williams scored for Chelsea Women a mere 37 seconds into my first 5 Live Sports Extra commentary, and I called the goal correctly (thankfully!) and felt that rush of adrenaline and excitement, I realised that this somehow felt ‘natural’ to me, and was something I wanted to pursue.

“So, if you love sport and wish you could spend your whole life talking about it and bringing that glorious drama to life for other people, then I’d urge you to apply!”

‘There is no better job than sports broadcasting’

Tom Gayle was another successful applicant. His football commentary can be heard on BBC Radio, the World Service and also ITV, who used him as part of their Euro 2020 team.

Tom said: “I will always been indebted to the BBC as it was the first significant breakthrough in my journey to becoming a professional broadcaster.

“I always had belief in myself, but my confidence had been knocked after being told I wasn’t cut out for a career in commentary. Simply being accepted onto the programme, and knowing others believed in my potential too, was invaluable.

“You can spend all the hours practising but, for me, commentary is something you learn on the job.

“The BBC provided a supportive environment where I was able to develop. A lot of mistakes were made along the way but I was always learning and, crucially, improving. I relished the security of knowing the BBC were investing in me, I wouldn’t be judged on one performance, and would be given further opportunities and training to help hone my craft.

“There is no better job than sports broadcasting. And if you agree with that statement, what are you waiting for? Apply now!”

‘Don’t feel like you have to be the finished article’

Robyn Cowen came through a similar scheme and is now a regular commentator on the BBC’s Match of the Day programme.

Robyn said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the BBC.

“After doing a few local radio commentaries, this took me to the next level. I was mentored by the best in the business and taught key skills. Having a regular opportunity to commentate on great football helped me learn very quickly what is required to do the job.

“Commentary is a steep learning curve and this is the perfect environment to make your mistakes and most importantly learn from them.

“Don’t feel like you have to be the finished article to apply (that doesn’t actually exist anyway!) so if you love football and love talking about, it give it a go. You never know what might happen!”

‘It’s been a fantastic experience’

Stuart Mitchell joined the scheme in 2018 and is now a regular commentator on BBC Radio Scotland, the BBC Scotland and the BBC Sport website.

He is a regular broadcaster on Scottish Premiership and SWPL1 matches, and has also worked in England.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “The whole application process threw you into the deep end to give you some real-life experience.

“I’ve got to a position where I’m getting a lot of commentary work. Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience.

“It’s been great to get feedback, meeting other commentators in BBC Scotland and speaking to them about their journey. Producers have been great at giving me feedback.

“I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, If anyone’s had an interest in commentary or had experience in the past, absolutely 100% apply for it.”

How to apply

If you would like to apply, please send the following to [email protected]

  • A minute of your commentary on any sport which includes a goal, try, point, basket etc.
  • One paragraph telling us about your love of commentating and/or what experience you have had commentating – remember to include your name and county or city or town you reside in.

Applicants need to be UK residents, aged 18 and above.

The closing date is Friday, 3 December and entrants will be notified by Friday, 17 December if they have been successful in getting to the next stage.

The second (and hopefully final) stage will be an online chat with production experts from BBC Sport.

Training will be provided for the successful candidate(s) and once up to speed they will join our freelance pool of commentators.

The BBC is committed to protecting the privacy and security of your personal information – all personal information provided will be stored securely and deleted by 1 February 2022.

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