Channel 4 unveils Rio 2016 Paralympics team

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Channel 4 has revealed its on-screen line-up for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, featuring what the broadcaster claims is the largest number of disabled presenters ever seen on UK television.

Almost two-thirds of the presenting talent working on Channel 4’s coverage of the event will be disabled, including all four of the daytime presenters.

Following on from its highly acclaimed BAFTA-winning coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics, Channel 4 has committed to broadcasting more than 700 hours across all Channel 4 platforms for Rio 2016, including 120 hours on its TV channels plus multiple online streams. 

The Channel 4 team bringing the Paralympics to UK audiences will be based in a studio in the heart of Rio’s Olympic Park, with Clare Balding and Adam Hills leading the network’s presenting line-up for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Daytime coverage from 1.00pm to 7.00pm each day will be a anchored by a mixture of former Marine commando JJ Chalmers, disability campaigner and broadcaster Sophie Morgan, former Paralympic wheelchair basketball medallist Ade Adepitan and former Royal Marine Arthur Williams.

Clare Balding will take over at 7.30pm each night for Channel 4’s half-hour evening highlights programmer, with expert contributions from former Olympic triple jumper Jonathan Edwards and special reports from acclaimed actor, producer and disability activist RJ Mitte.

Channel 4’s popular comedy series The Last Leg, which launched in 2012 as part of the broadcaster’s coverage of the London Paralympics, will also be placed at the heart of Channel 4’s prime-time schedule throughout the entirety of the Rio Games between 8.00pm and 9.00pm.

Hosted by Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, the entire production of the show will be shipped to Rio for the duration of the Games and filmed live in front of a studio audience at the Olympic Park, where the trio will provide their unique offbeat commentary on the significant sporting moments of the day.

Then from 9.00pm until 1.00am, Clare Balding takes over the helm once again, presenting live from the Olympic Park covering all the action and the many expected ParalympicsGB gold medallists from the track and in the pool to the velodrome and further afield.

A digital breakfast show, presented by Channel 4’s Formula 1 reporter Lee McKenzie, will be available to watch via All4 every morning from 6.00am during the Games, allowing viewers to catch up on the overnight action, as well as signposting the forthcoming day’s key events.

McKenzie will also be one of Channel 4’s roving Paralympics reporters, alongside Caroline De Moraes, Rishi Persad and Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, with former wheelchair rugby player Steve Brown, 7/7 survivor and former sitting volleyball player Martine Wright MBE, former Paralympic skier Sean Rose and ex-Paralympian track and field athlete Sophia Warner also part of the reporting team.

Channel 4’s live coverage will primarily focus on athletics and swimming, with the athletics coverage presented from the Olympic Stadium by Jonathan Edwards and Iwan Thomas.

Providing analysis and commentary will be former Paralympic champion Danny Crates, former Olympic sprinter Katharine Merry, alongside commentators Rob Walker and John Rawling, while reporter Sonja McLaughlan will get the comments from the trackside interview position.

In the pool, leading Channel 4’s commentary and reporting line-up will be former Paralympic swimmers Rachel Latham, Liz Johnson, Marc Woods, Giles Long and Paul Noble.

Specialist commentators for other sports include Simon Brotherton and Neil Smith (cycling), Ronald McIntosh and Dan Johnson (wheelchair basketball), Bob Ballard and Peter Norfolk (wheelchair tennis) and Don Parker (table tennis).

The Rio Games will also see the unveiling of a brand new and much improved animated LEXI – the revolutionary on-screen graphic which explains the complex classifications of Paralympic sport.

Created by Paralympic gold medallist and Channel 4 commentator Giles Long MBE, LEXI was first introduced at London 2012 and helped viewers understand how athletes with different types and levels of impairment are separated into groups or classes to ensure they can compete fairly against one another.

The LEXI system has been completely overhauled for Rio with three dimensional animation replacing much of the on-screen text, giving the audience greater understanding by linking impairment types with the functional attributes important for success in each sport.

Channel 4’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which will be produced by Sunset+Vine, begins with live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, September 7.

Prior to the Games, Channel 4 will run a major new advertising campaign – We’re The Superhumans – which follows up the multi-award-winning Meet the Superhumans campaign of London 2012, which helped shift perceptions of disability within the UK.

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