Meet the New Voice of the BTCC
It’s always a nerve-wracking time for motorsport fans when the voice they invite into their living rooms on Sunday afternoons is set to change. BTCC fans have had to cope with this twice in the last twelve months, with the latest man behind the mic coming in the form of David Addison. Michael Passingham gets to know ITV’s new signing.
Even if you don’t know the name, you’ll know his voice. David Addison has commentated on pretty much everything with four wheels at some point over the last 20 years, be it trackside or in a TV commentary booth. Fans who are worried about another new voice need not fret; the 40 year-old knows what he’s doing.
When I asked how he would describe his commentary style, he responded with “cheap”. A joke of course (he’s known for his dead-pan humour), but it also does reflect his attitude towards his job: I think he’d do it for no pay at all if he had to. Contrary to popular belief, commentating trackside on PA systems does not pay at all well at all. And yet he finds himself at the track considerably more often than you and I, simply for the love of it:
“Trackside commentary is what I’ve done for the last 20 years. It’s great fun. There’s an immediacy there because when you say something you can see the reaction of the fans, especially when it’s a big crowd. It’s mainly done out of love, and it covers your costs. Just about.”
David’s commentary career started in 1990, when the BBC held its amateur commentator of the year competition. It was “a bit like Pop Idol with anoraks,” Addison said in an interview with Dailysportscar in 2003.
He didn’t win the competition – he was runner-up – but, undeterred, he made his first forays into trackside commentary at BTCC and British F3 meetings. He made his TV debut on Eurosport in 1991, commentating on the RAC Rally.
Since then, you name it and he’s commentated on it at some point. His credits include but are not limited to the British GT, Blanpain Endurance Series, VW Cup, Formula Ford, V8 Supercars and trackside at high-profile events such as the British Grand Prix.
So, the ITV deal is just the latest in a string of terrific commentary gigs for Addison, but even so, it’s one he jumped at the chance to take on, and rightly so – it is the biggest four-wheel sport in terms of viewership after Formula 1 in the UK.
“Alan Gow rang me and asked me if I was interested, and my answer without a second of doubt was ‘yes, of course’. It was just before Christmas that ITV made contact and we spoke about it and met early January, and it’s taken a while for everything to be finalised in terms of contracts. I’ve had to sit on my hands and keep quiet.”
David is no stranger to his commentary box partner for this year; he and Tim Harvey have known each other for many years and have a solid working relationship in their other jobs – Addison produces the BRDC magazine (among others), to which Harvey is a regular contributor (via the BDRC Stars movement).
“[Tim and I] got together on Wednesday and had a dummy run of the first and second races of the last round of last year. We sat in an OB truck and commentated the races, and got on fine. We came away feeling very upbeat about the season.
“My job is to make sure people don’t change channels. Tim can do all the expert bits; he can explain what the drivers are doing, like if they’ve run wide or missed a gear. What I have to do is understand the race and make sure I know who’s in what car, understand the race order and see how the race is developing, especially this year with the new soft tyres. I’m going to try and make sure everyone’s still engaged and watching the pictures instead of thinking of changing channels.”
By his own admission, this is his biggest and most challenging audience so far:
“I’m very mindful of the fact that a BTCC audience is a very knowledgable one. You’re almost coming into their patch so I’m the new kid, the viewers have been watching it for years, saying ‘who’s this new chap that we’ve got?'”
Despite his many years in the booth elevated above most race fans, David is very much an every-man when it comes to the type of racing he likes to watch and is not too concerned by the rubbin’s racin’ attitude.
“I like to see exciting, close racing,” he explains. I’m not a great fan of people barging their way through, but a bit of rubbing – I’m fine with that. Especially if everyone knows that’s part and parcel of it. If someone tries a really stupid move from a long way back and takes out someone in front of them, I wouldn’t be a great fan of that.”
Our thoughts turn to this year’s BTCC, for which he will be voicing all ten meetings, if things go to plan:
“If you add everything together it makes this season so good: the fact that you’ve got four champions on the grid, you’ve got some new teams with some new cars and some new drivers coming into it. I especially like this new soft tyre regulation – the tyres aren’t going to drop off a cliff; the benefit will ebb away slowly so the race complexion will change as the guys who’ve used the tyres slowly get caught.
“I’ve always been a fan of big grids. I know it doesn’t automatically follow that a small grid gives a boring race and a big grid gives an exciting race, but if you think now we’re looking at 30+ entries potentially, and if you get elbowed out wide at the first corner, a few years ago you might you three or four place you might lose 3 of four places, now you’ll lose 10 or 12. If you then try and come back through the order, it’s going to be really difficult because there’s so much more traffic.”
As ever, David is realistic when it comes to his on-air performances this year:
“I’m not going to please everybody. There’ll be lots of people who like it, and lots of people who don’t. All I can do is do things my way. As long as I don’t offend too many people, we’ll see how we go. “
Article originally written on Friday, 1 March 2013. Read more articles from the BTCC Crazy Archive.