Wimbledon fans have struck a blow for viewer power after the BBC revealed that it is moving the set of its revamped highlights programme Wimbledon 2Day and will be banishing the live audience element for the second week of the tournament.
The Corporation has confirmed that from Monday night the show will move to a new venue overlooking Centre Court and that there will be no members of the public looking on.
It is understood that many of the other gimmicky elements that have left viewers unimpressed – such as Clare Balding and Tim Henman’s knock-up using children’s tennis rackets – will be rejected in favour of a more traditional round up of the main tennis action with comments from pundits.
The BBC has confirmed that Balding will remain as host and that the roster of expert analysts such as Henman and former champions Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe and Pat Cash will stay the same.
However, a source confirmed that while the “new set is too small to accommodate an audience” the changes were also a response to viewer outcry prompted by a RadioTimes.com poll in which 95% of readers voted for the return of the old highlights show Today at Wimbledon.
Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham led the charge, likening the new highlights show to “Top Gear with strawberries and cream” in a piece which received huge media follow-up.
She wrote: “The set looks like a cross between a nightclub and an exhibition stand at the Ideal Home Show – what appears to be fake grass, a sofa (why?) and one of those teeny-tiny skinny tables around which Clare stands with her guests. How uncomfortable they all look. Meanwhile they are gawped at from behind something that looks like a bar from which no alcohol is served by a group of grinning people we know nothing about. Who are they?”
A BBC source said: “We always said the show would evolve over the two weeks but obviously we respond to viewer feedback and change things they might not like and keep things they do like. The new set will take the highlights show closer to the action.”
The source added that claims that the amount of tennis in the show have been reduced were unfair and that this series has broadcast around the same amount of play as in previous years.
“The amount of tennis that is shown varies according to the play on the day. Sometimes you have a five set thriller and sometimes the game is over in an hour so it depends on that,” said the source.