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An Audience With... F1?

NEWS STORY
13/05/2022

From 1980 until the late 2000s, British broadcaster ITV ran a concept of TV show that proved hugely popular with the public, it was called An Audience With... and somehow it came to mind over the course of the Miami weekend.

At the outset the show featured comedians but later began to include singers. We're talking Mel Brooks, Dame Edna, Joan Rivers, Peter Ustinov, Billy Connolly, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees, Diana Ross.

The concept was simple; the featured star would be centre stage in front of an audience of invited celebrities, with a few members of the general public at the back.

In the case of the comedians they would tell jokes and anecdotes, while the celebrity guests would be invited to ask questions.

Having no doubt spent several hours in the Green Room beforehand, where they no doubt enjoyed copious quantities of Vino Relaxo, the celebrities were 'up for it' from the outset.

Asking questions that had clearly been prepared for them, this would offer the star guest the opportunity to respond with the perfect gag or punchline.

No matter how good the comedian however, the most off-putting thing about the format was that the TV director insisted on filming the audience's reaction to every single joke as opposed to focussing on the person delivering it.

As the gags continued so the cameras would cut from one celebrity to another, each appearing to laugh more hysterically and louder than the last.

It was as if we needed to see the celebrities laughing their heads off to appreciate just how funny the star turn really was, as if Mel Brooks needed the seal of approval from the guy off the advert for the building society.

Somehow, this was the same feeling we endured for much of the Miami weekend, particularly on race day.

Rather than focussing on the main event - you know, the race - we were constantly being shown the crowd's reaction.

Not just your typical "oohs" and "aahs" mind you, but long, lingering shots as another bunch of 'up for it' attendees cheered and hollered into the camera lens.

In the moments after the start, one of the cameras conveniently caught a Max Verstappen fan almost orgasming as his hero beat Carlos Sainz into the first corner, his whole body, even his moustache, tensing in the excitement of the moment.

This chap, like most of the others the cameras appeared to catch 'off guard' were all conveniently seated at the ends of rows on the aisles - their afternoon not yet compromised by the couple from 15 seats down constantly needing to pass by for comfort breaks, water, a hot dog or T-Shirt.

At least with An Audience With we still got to hear the gag as the camera searched out another celebrity with their face contorted in mirth, however, on Sunday a number of key moves were missed, not least George Russell's two moves on his Mercedes teammate.

If ever one had any doubts that Liberty is putting entertainment before sport, this was it, for Miami wasn't about the racing it was about the celebrities in attendance, it was about show biz.

Over the years we've winced as multi-millionaire actors told us how much they loved the sport, but that this was the first race they'd attended, ironically as a guest of Team X. We even put up with Liz Hurley in Monaco as she announced that she was heading to the first corner to watch "take off".

But this was constant, endless celebrities, who most of us, like poor Martin Brundle, has no chance of recognising, all invited - at great cost no doubt - to officially endorse the sport and tells us that F1 is cool.

For us, the one thing that came out of the weekend is that this sport has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, and, with the aid of large sections of the media, not for the better.

Like the old joke about the advertising executive who, on the night of his wedding, spends the entire night sitting on the end of the bed telling his bride how good it's going to be, we were constantly being told that this was it, F1 had arrived, this is what the sport needed, DJ Khaled likes it so it must be good.

Let's face it, the marina wasn't the only thing that was fake.

Indeed, looking at the events of last weekend, the hype and the need to promote the show, even at the cost of the race, we are more convinced than ever that Michael Masi was acting on orders last December.

One dreads to think how bad Las Vegas is going to be.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by trackrecords, 20/05/2022 20:23

"Any event that invites Paris Hilton is immediately suspect - what's so special about a not particularly beautiful, spoilt woman with no sense of reality?
Mid-race they showed the beach area with a load of blokes sitting on the edge on the pool, dangling their feet in the water, they were talking, and obvious had no interest in F1 so no reason for being on screen: it was like a Ford car brochure, an idealised 'lifestyle' suggestion.
The whole event was one massive - and very blatant - money-making exercise and the 'American dream' personified.
Has anyone got any suggestions for supressing nausea, as Vegas is going to set a serious challenge to even the strongest stomach.
Oh and what happened to Wincey Willis, why on earth was she a celebrity and is 'Wincey' short for 'Winceyette'?"

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2. Posted by Max Noble, 13/05/2022 12:13

"…but apart from that how did you enjoy the play Mrs Lincoln? - best USA quote ever for so many occasions… Fits the mood, and the miss…"

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3. Posted by Superbird70, 12/05/2022 23:00

"The venue, and all the fluff surrounding wouldn't matter if the racing was good. The current cars have outgrown some of the older tracks, and the new tracks for the most part are uninspiring. Regardless, the cars need to lose 50cm of length and width, and about 100kg of mass and then we might see some racing. "

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4. Posted by Greg, 12/05/2022 20:07

"As I watched one end of row male nearly have a heart attack, he was cheering so enthusiastically, I wondered what had happened on track, only to see nothing. Faked up for the show, like most of the surroundings were including the marina with its boats parked. Show biz.... Much prefer the classic tracks indeed"

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5. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 12/05/2022 17:57

"Its Formula One folks, but not as we know it."

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6. Posted by alvarezh3, 12/05/2022 17:21

"Just as I wrote here a few days before the race, Liberty was selling a party with a car race included on the price of admissions (to the bash, not the sporting event). What I missed and @Editor has properly included, was the addition of the fictitious "super humans" commonly referred to by the show biz promoters as the "celebrities" (whom apparently we must somehow worship), status quite a few of them have lost as they get sued or convicted by wrongdoing behaviors."

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7. Posted by VC10-1103, 12/05/2022 16:12

"When I first started going to F1 races the biggest celebrity on the grid was Sir Stirling Moss."

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8. Posted by F1nerd, 12/05/2022 13:30

"More rubbish on the TV. What a load of sour bunnies they are."

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9. Posted by kdxrider, 12/05/2022 12:54

"It's just the 'flavour of the week'. It will soon wear off and be inconsequential ----

As for Vega, times this event by a hundred ---- if ever there was a 'fake' town --- "

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