Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard began a career as a television commentator with the BBC after his F1 racing career came to a close at the end of 2008. He was joined in the BBC team by anchor Jake Humphrey, who moved into sports coverage after starting out in children’s TV. The two men hit it off and at the end of 2010 the pair decided to go into business together, in league with a BBC Sport producer called Sunil Patel. The company was called Whisper Films, the goal being to leverage the connections of the directors to create a TV production company dealing with sport, particularly with short films to be used for corporate viral advertising campaigns. The company has since made films for the likes of UBS, Hugo Boss, the NFL, Casio, ExxonMobil, Red Bull, Genworth, Silverstone, Caterham F1, Renault, Heineken, DTM, Blackberry, Martini, The Jenson Button Trust, Williams, Hilton, Lotus F1, Codemasters, McLaren, Pirelli and TW Steel. The company moved to Ealing Studios at the end of 2014 and in recent years has made a series of short documentaries for the BBC, notably “Racing with the Hamiltons: Nic in the Driving Seat”. Last summer, Channel 4 bought into the company (believed to be 25 percent), using money from a growth fund it has to support the independent production sector.
The news that the BBC is not continuing its Formula 1 coverage was not a surprise and it is clear that Channel 4 was very keen to get hold of the F1 coverage. After that deal was done, it was no great surprise that Whisper Films has won the production contract for the F1 coverage and, therefore, hardly a surprise that Coulthard will be staying on as a commentator. It is possible that Humphrey will also be part of the package, but he has a contract with BT Vision to present its football coverage and may not be able to do all the F1 races, even if his agreement with BT is non-exclusive.
It is no surprise either than Whisper has secured the services of a number of BBC employees, notably producer Mark Wilkin, who has been overseeing BBC F1 activities since back in 1980s.