The Need for Speed? A Historical Analysis of The BBC's Post-War Broadcasting of Motorsport



Haynes R & Robeers T (2020) The Need for Speed? A Historical Analysis of The BBC's Post-War Broadcasting of Motorsport. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 40 (2), pp. 407-423.

Although many media and cultural histories have looked at the emergence of particular popular sports, few have done so from a detailed perspective with respect to motorsport. Indeed, ever since its conceptualisation, motorsport has shared an intricate relationship with the media. However, despite advancements in camera and broadcasting equipment, significant technical and logistical difficulties to represent early motorsport as televisual, with a strong sense of ‘realism’, persevered. This article explores the emergence of motorsport on BBC television during the post-war period to determine if, and to what extent, early motorsport on television was (not) televised. To this end, a qualitative archival approach is used to examine a sample of archival and biographical media texts from the post-war period. Findings suggest the BBC experimented with the format of the hill climb, a motorsport series, by shaping it to fit the possibilities and requirements of television more appropriately. This resulted in the creation of the Television Trophy Trial, the adoption of scrambling and the rise of Rallycross. This means that the BBC was, in effect, not only using motorsport to its own benefit from the early 1950s onwards, but actively developing and representing motorsport as competitive and dramatic.

Post-war years; motorsport; television broadcasting; representation; archival approach

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television: Volume 40, Issue 2

FundersThe Carnegie Trust
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online14/06/2019
Date accepted by journal08/04/2019

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Professor Richard Haynes
Professor Richard Haynes

Professor, Communications, Media and Culture

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