Clare Balding

Clare Balding

Clare Balding was announced yesterday as BT’s latest recruit to their ambitious TV project, signing on to do a weekly sports chat show, featuring interviews, debates and just general discussion on the biggest news in the sports.

This latest appointment means that she’s not only going to be appearing on the new channel, but will also be the face of Channel 4’s horse racing and multiple shows on the BBC. So what’s changed in just over a year to make Clare Balding one of the most popular people on British TV?

Right from the off, Clare was an enjoyable person to view on screen. Relaxed in a way that most television presenters just can’t seem to get their heads around, it didn’t matter what she was presenting, she was always a pleasurable partner.

The BBC knew this, and immediately started throwing her into more and more of its sports programming outside of her horse-racing background. Although equestrian events remained her calling card, she was made a part of the BBC’s Olympic and Winter Olympic team from Sydney 2000 and put in charge of several major rugby league matches on the channel. In 2003 she walked away with the ‘Sports Presenter Of The Year’ prize at the Royal Television Societies annual shindig, a feat that mysteriously she’s only don the once.

What pushed this likable spots host into a beloved TV presence were the Olympics in London. The sheer mass of TV content being made by the BBC brought all of their presenters into our TV schedules in a major way, with Balding being right on the front line of that coverage.

From the first event to the last, Clare was the outstanding member of the BBC’s coverage team, frank, funny and one of the few presenters to not get completely swept up in the wave of patriotism that was running throughout the entire event. Her interview with Bert Le Clos is still one of the TV highlights of the year. Suddenly she’s gone from ‘that woman off the horses’ to national TV treasure.

It’s not just in the world of sport that she’s been put to use, fronting both Countryfile and Britain’s Hidden Heritage for the BBC. It’s the ease she has in front of camera and an enormous likeability that makes her incredibly versatile when it comes to presenting. Even on satirical panel show Have I Got News For You she more than held her own.

Having easily cleared the bar for every TV challenge that’s been thrown at her, it’s easy to see both why BT wanted to get her involved with their new high profile sports channel and why she’s become one of the most in-demand faces on British TV.

Make sure to read our Clare Balding interview to get even more info on the first lady of British TV.