Book Review: My Chequered Career

By on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rider presenting for ITV Sport

If a British sports fan hasn’t at some point in their life watched a programme fronted by Steve Rider, then they almost certainly haven’t watched enough TV. After several decades in front of a camera, Rider tells all in his new book, My Chequered Career.

From the outset, Rider’s stories are captivating as he pulls punches in expressing his belief that ITV didn’t deserve the glory of Brazil 2008 and how, in that very same race, it was down to Mark Blundell in his ‘most succinct Essex-Italian’ to inform Ferrari’s mechanics that their celebrations were all too premature.

A large chunk of Rider’s book focuses on the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the rise of Lewis Hamilton and answers some of the criticism aimed at ITV for their apparent pro-Hamilton bias. Rider’s account of the 2007 season in particular is fascinating for anyone keen on the eventual destructive relationship between Hamilton, Alonso and McLaren.

It isn’t just about present Formula One; Rider has tales to tell from his time with the late, great Ayrton Senna, as well as Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher. A greater insight in the book is the seemingly unfathomable decisions made by the main terrestrial broadcasters in the United Kingdom – the BBC and ITV – and Rider’s reactions to the behaviour of the respective corporations. Rider doesn’t hold back in his criticism of both networks and, with the benefit of hindsight, modern motor-racing fans should be thankful to Rider for his support of championships outside of Formula One, such as the British Touring Car Championship.

The only criticism of the book would be it feels occasionally unbalanced. Yes, it is gripping to read about the Hamilton years on ITV, but other issues are skipped through. With the history Rider has in sports broadcasting, there were surely other stories to tell. But as the old saying goes, always leave them wanting more!

My Chequered Career is published by Haynes Publishing and is available now.

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