Olympics has shown we’re in need of good presenters

COMMENT: Bandstand event is a victim of its own success

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There are some sentences you never expect to write – even after 45 years slaving over a hot keyboard – but here goes.

The BBC is looking a bit thin on the ground when it comes to experienced sports presenters.

There, I’ve said it now and for proof you need look no further than the motley crew it has assembled to cover the Olympic Games.

Take the trio presiding in the gymnastics’ hall, for example. There wasn’t a professional sports presenter among them – and it showed to excruciating effect.

They were led by Matt Baker (he of the fey smile) best known for his work on compelling sports programmes like Blue Peter, Strictly Come Dancing and Countryfile.

With him were coaches Mitch Fenner and Christine Still, who were fine when called upon to describe the finer points of a straddle split or a Swedish fall.

But when it came to conveying the history being made in their chosen sport – as Britain claimed its first medal for 100 years – all three degenerated into a gaggle of whooping, hysterical cheer-leaders.

At least we have the inestimable Hazel Irvine and Clare Balding, who can be relied upon to present everything from snooker to rugby league, with the minimum of personal emotion and the maximum of professionalism.

Irvine (‘have trouser suit, will travel’) is deftly pulling the studio strings every morning alongside a bemused-looking Bill Turnbull, while Balding (‘if I think it, I’ll say it’) has formed a personable double act with pundit, Mark Foster, in the aquatics centre.

She, informed and authoritative; he, a man who knows everything about a sport he has graced for 20 years.

Apparently, Australia’s multi-medal winner Ian Thorpe has been combining his role of swimming guru with that of official ambassador for Armani.

We must hope he is modelling the fragrances, because the clothes he turns up in are spectacularly weird.

But, compare him to the terminally smug and narcissistic Gary Lineker, who appears to be wearing a succession of shiny jackets.

Then a friend pointed out it is, in fact, saliva left where he keeps licking himself.