In December last year, it was announced that Formula 1 would be moving to Channel 4. I loved fronting the BBC F1 show; hearing ‘The Chain’ in my ear before my opening greeting, the banter with David and Eddie, being right ‘there’ to see Lewis make history winning back to back World Championships and then having the privilege to interview him straight afterwards. I made friends with drivers, team bosses, racing legends and mechanics, I ran the tracks with my BBC friends and drank with ‘the opposition’. The talent pool within our team was immense and the spirit was strong, from the guy who drove the truck, to my boss and the voice in my ear. We were dedicated to our coverage and our broadcasts were committed and carefully considered. I felt that our production team were always ambitious and their vision pushed boundaries. For me, it was one of my career highs and millions of sports fans came along for the ride and joined our good fortune. I wished that I had known that Abu Dhabi would be our last broadcast together and my last as the face of BBC F1, but that’s just how telly rolls sometimes. I wish Channel 4 all the best with their coverage, it’s a phenomenal world to be a part of.
I always say things happen for a reason and just as F1 ended, loads of other doors opened for me to help me expand my portfolio.
Most excitingly I was to become part of Radio 2’s extended family. I’ve already presented a week of shows, standing in for Vanessa Feltz and I’m back on air on Easter Monday presenting the drive time show, keeping the seat warm for Simon Mayo. It has a F1 theme where I am talking to Lewis Hamilton, Claire Williams, Nicki Lauda, David Coulthard and of course the wonderful Murray Walker, amongst others. I’ll be looking at their favourite tunes but also asking listeners to call in and tell me about their favourite driving music as well.
Music and radio has always been such a passion of mine and so this is a dream come true. Just walking through those radio doors and getting to sit behind the radio desk gives me such a thrill. I get to play music I love and chat to all the gorgeous listeners and share our lives together. I couldn’t be happier.
I am also hoping to make a couple of my own productions as I have always found the other side of the camera fascinating too!
I’m also just about to embark on one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I’ve quite crazily agreed to be part of the BT Sports Relief Challenge ‘Hell on High Seas’ where ’ll be sailing 1,000 miles around the UK in a yacht alongside Alex Jones, Angellica Bell, Hal Cruttenden, Ore Oduba and Doon Mackichan. Over the next 7 days, we’ll all be sleeping on tiny bunks in the same room, that’s when we get any sleep, as we may be needed on deck at any time. If we are allowed to rest it’s in 4 hour chunks. None of us have ever done anything like this before and when you have to have survival training, you know it’s for real. I’ll try and tweet as much as i can whilst on board next week, but tune in to the Drivetime show when I’ll be speaking to Simon Mayo on Radio 2 every afternoon live from the yacht, plus there will be updates every evening on The One Show. We are of course doing all of this to raise money for an incredible cause and i would be so grateful for your support – you can sponsor us here.
We will be setting off from Belfast Harbour Marina on Monday 7th March and the crew will attempt to sail to London around the UK in just 5 days, finishing on Friday 11th March.
We will be living, sleeping and working on the Volvo Ocean 65 – a carbon-fibre speed machine that has been optimized for maximum performance. At 65 feet and weighing in at 12,500 kgs, the vessel is as long as five cars and weighs the equivalent of twelve great white sharks. The largest sail, which we will have to manually hoist, is as big as two and a half volleyball courts
From day 1, we will be pushed to the limit. Without any fridges or ovens, we will have to get used to eating vacuum packed food and with the onslaught of the elements even simple tasks like brushing our teeth will be difficult. Ian Walker, the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race, will skipper our challenge and he says ‘when the sea’s rough and your drenched to the core and you’ve barely slept, even the most mundane daily tasks can seem impossible’.
Oh boy – we need your support
See you when I’m back on dry land!