Ahead of Wednesday's (29 February) 'six months to go' milestone until the Paralympic Games, Channel 4 unveiled a groundbreaking lineup of presenters and reporters featuring top sports broadcasters, former Paralympians and new disabled talent for its coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in August. In line with the channel's vision on winning the broadcast rights to the Games, 50 per cent of the presenters and reporters in the line-up will be disabled.
Channel 4 will clear its schedules across the network for the eleven days of the Games to commit more than 150 hours of coverage. It will be the biggest broadcasting event in Channel 4's 30-year history and the most extensive UK coverage that has ever been dedicated to the Paralympic Games.
Peak time live coverage of the Games on Channel 4 will be fronted by renowned sports broadcaster Clare Balding and TV presenter and former Paralympic wheelchair basketball medallist Ade Adepitan. Disabled Australian comedian Adam Hills, who hosted ABC's live coverage of the 2008 Paralympic Games Ceremonies in Beijing, will bring a combination of experience and quick wit to the peak evening highlights show.
Channel 4, E4 and T4 presenter Rick Edwards will also take up a key role in the presenter line-up after fronting four series of "That Paralympic Show" on Channel 4, while Sydney 2000 Olympic triple-jump champion Jonathan Edwards will bring his experience as a seasoned live multi-sports broadcaster.
Seven new faces in the line-up will come from Channel 4's talent search for disabled talent in 2010 including Irish presenter Daráine Mulvihill and former Royal Marine Arthur Williams, who will each anchor in-studio. They will be joined by new reporters on-location - former Paralympic swimmer Rachael Latham, sports reporter and wheelchair basketball player Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, former carpenter Martin Dougan, researcher Liam Holt and sports journalist Alex Brooker. All seven were chosen from hundreds of hopefuls in the talent search and put through rigorous training.
Long-standing Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow will anchor the channel's coverage of the Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Jon Snow has been the face of Channel 4 News since 1989 and has reported on some of the world's most historic events, including the release of Nelson Mandela and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Kelly Cates and Georgie Bingham also join as presenters and between them have an impressive resume of sports broadcasting experience including Sky Sports, ESPN, Setanta, Sky Sports News and the Premier League.
Additional on-location reporters including experienced sports broadcaster Sonja McLaughlan, former Paralympic middle-distance runner Danny Crates, former Paralympic swimmer Giles Long and ex-Olympic 400m runner Iwan Thomas. Details of the wider team, including commentators and pundits, will be released at a later date.
As the official UK broadcaster, Channel 4's coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be on air across the channel's network until midnight each day during the Games-time period as the channel commits to ‘all day every day' programming.
The team of presenters, who will broadcast in pairs, will co-host more than 150 hours of Games-time action across multiple platforms including Channel 4, More4 and online.
Jay Hunt, Chief Creative Officer at Channel 4, said: "Being the broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is a huge privilege and an opportunity for us to really make a difference to the perception of disability and disability sport in this country. I'm thrilled to announce this brilliant and carefully selected team of presenters and reporters; a mix of broadcasting heavyweights and new faces including disabled talent. Our coverage will contain in-depth analysis and intelligent, frank and thought-provoking insight from people who are equipped to bring these incredible but little-understood sports to a broad mainstream audience and help us to make this the biggest Paralympic Games ever."
Newly-commissioned breakfast and teatime shows will air each day of the Games, bringing both live sport and highlights to audiences of all ages at all times of the day. The channel's Paralympic coverage will be produced by the UK's leading specialist sports production companies, Sunset & Vine and IMG Sports Media, drawing on their considerable experience of multi-discipline sporting events.
"We will be on air before the sport of the day begins and until the last flag has been rolled up and put away with all the action, expert comment and analysis and specially commissioned breakfast and tea time shows. This is a 400% increase on the coverage The Paralympics has ever received in this country and will make it impossible to ignore," Jay Hunt added.
Coverage, including of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, will span both Channel 4 and More 4, to accommodate regular programming, while viewers will also be able enjoy live streaming and daily highlights on Channel 4's new interactive Paralympics website.
The new site channel4.com/Paralympics will also include profiles of all Paralympic athletes competing in the Games and offer educational information on the classification system that exists in Paralympic sport, with the aim of creating household names of British Paralympic athletes and educating the nation.
Over the course of 2012, Channel 4 will also be broadcasting the BT Paralympic World Cup and a range of Paralympic programming including a fourth series of ‘That Paralympic Show' and the final episodes of their ‘Best of British' series.