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Confusion arose due to her role as Team GB ambassador, says TV star's publicist...

The BBC moved quickly today to dismiss a report in The Sun that gave the impression that the broadcaster had recruited Davina McCall to help front some of its cycling coverage in this summer’s Olympic Games, with the TV star’s publicist saying that there had been confusion as a result of her role as a Team GB Ambassador at London 2012.

The Million Pound Drop Live presenter was quoted in this morning’s Sun as saying: “I can’t wait for the Olympics. I have bagged a tiny role — I am doing some enthusiastic speaking about cycling for the BBC but I have warned them I’m not an expert.

“I don’t know about weights of bicycles or all that, all I can say is how difficult it is to get to that stage of prowess. I’ll leave the technical stuff to the BBC’s pros.”

However, a spokesman for the BBC told the website Digital Spy that McCall did not figure in its line-up of cycling presenters, explaining: "The full lineup was announced at a press briefing a few weeks ago and has not changed since."

Among those previously confirmed by the BBC as being involved in its Olympic cycling coverage on TV will be commentator Hugh Porter, with Chris Boardman, Rob Hayles and Jamie Staff alongside him, plus reports from Jill Douglas and Ed Leigh.

McCall’s publicist told Digital Spy that the confusion arose due to McCall’s role as an ambassador for the Great Britain team during London 2012, saying: "Davina is one of 12 Team GB ambassadors and in her role as a member of the programme and also as a passionate cyclist Davina will be undertaking a number of media roles and interviews to galvanise support for the nation's athletes and specifically those on two wheels."

McCall first started cycling seriously when she formed part of the David Walliams-led team of celebrities that rode from John O’Groats to Land’s End for Sport Relief in 2010, at one point riding a two-hour turn in Scotland at night, alone, in temperatures that never got above minus ten.

Since then, she has been well and truly bitten by the cycling bug and has helped the charity Action Medical Research launch its women-only series of DIVA100 rides.

Given that one of the things that won London the Olympics was a commitment to provide a legacy including getting more people active – whether that’s actually being delivered is of course very much open to question – it could be argued that someone such as McCall may have helped engage the casual viewer in coverage.

Although some close followers of the sport might take issue with the prospect of an outsider being involved in the coverage, others might point out that the vast majority of those watching the Olympics will have had little or no previous engagement with the sport, and that anything that helps make it accessible, including recruiting a celebrity as part of the team, could only be a good thing.

It’s a moot point, of course, given that the BBC has said unequivocally that McCall doesn’t feature in its plans – but given her past experience of eviction nights on Big Brother, having her on board could have added a unique dimension to coverage of the elimination races in the men’s and women’s omniums.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

13 comments

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russyparkin [570 posts] 4 years ago
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im sure she is a lovely lady... but please no, she is channel 4 fodder and should continue to present programs there.

not my cup of tea

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Blackhound [447 posts] 4 years ago
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Bit of a non story to me. She is a presenter, who I think does actually ride a bike if only for fun.

Jill Douglas, Gary Imlach or Ned Boulting are not originally cyclists but it does not stop them doing a decent presenting job which is different to commentating or being the racing expert.

I always feel that presenters get a rough deal - they have to appear intelligent and know what is happening while around them things are spiralling out of control. Probably got a producer in their ear telling them to talk for 45 secs etc. so not an easy job.

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WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 4 years ago
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She has the profile, the cycling bug and more chance than us of encouraging cycling as something sociable and acceptable to the great driving public. Clarkson's not 'my cup if tea' but I'm fed the silly bugger and his silly views across at least 2 channels.

Even trackside for the cycling she'd do more good than harm.

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6654henry [56 posts] 4 years ago
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She is mainstream which is what cycling needs. I feel she is better used in the glossy pages of an OK or Hello mag rather than on live TV, i hope she doesn't make some blunder like confusing races with sportive type events.

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ragtag [218 posts] 4 years ago
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Agree, she may not be everyone's cup of tea but as others mention she could bring cycling to a larger audience - certainly something cycling needs. She has a genuine interest in cycling and done some serious miles so while she may not be an expert like Chris Boardman, she is actually closer to the vast majority of people that get into cycling. How many people have broken the hour record?

I'm certainly not in her fan club but to get closer to the tipping point we need for cycling in the UK you could do far, far worse.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 4 years ago
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Reiterate what others have said - she clearly loves her cycling and she always exudes enthusiasm. They are two things that a a tv package about cycling needs. Team her up with some seasoned pros to give insight and i think its a good combination. The vast majority of viewers will be keen amateurs like her so i would welcome having her as part of the coverage team. Get Lee Dixon in too whilst they are at it!  1

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timbola [247 posts] 4 years ago
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Totally agree !

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wild man [297 posts] 4 years ago
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I vote for Fearne Cotton and Ortis Deley, with Tess Daley interviewing the cyclists.

Couldn't be much worse than Hugh Porter's mispronunciations and general cluelessness.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 4 years ago
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Im sure many would like to see a bit more of Peta Todd in front of the camera.

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notfastenough [3716 posts] 4 years ago
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At first I thought 'oh no' but maybe you lot are right; if Ned 'Yellow Jumper' Boulting can turn himself from clueless into a respectable presenter of cycling (I realise he's had longer to get used to the idea), then why not someone who is recognisable to the general public?

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Rvizzle [94 posts] 4 years ago
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Anyone remember how awful Gary Lineker was when he first appeared on MOTD?

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samjackson54 [54 posts] 4 years ago
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Some Fella wrote:

Get Lee Dixon in too whilst they are at it!  1

Lee Dixon, great shout. Loves his Mavics according to Twitter.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 4 years ago
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dear god, I hope not. I get thoroughly sick of her average mug on TV now, to say nothing of her talentless demeanour. Ugh!