Archive for the ‘paralympics’ Tag

Superhumans v Ability

On the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Paralympics, it’s interesting to contrast the UK television marketing of London 2012 vs Rio 2016

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2012: Meet the Superhumans

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2012: the week between the Olympics and the Paralympics

 

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channel_4_paralympic_ellie

2016: Ability

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Thank Adolf for the Paralympics

Starting with a Big Bang

Little known fact – we’ve got Herr Hitler to thank for the Paralympics. The founding father of the Paralympic Games was a Jewish doctor on the run from the Nazis who took refuge in the UK. Ludwig Guttmann was born in Silesia in Germany in 1899 and got the hell outta there just before the war in March 1939 (a year after my dad who arrived in London in 1938 at the age of 1). He qualified in 1924 and by 1933 was considered the top Neurosurgeon in the country. Adolf’s arrival meant he couldn’t practice professionally other than in a Jewish-only hospital in Breslau. Once he made it to England he settled down to work at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. He became a British citizen in 1945. Two years earlier he set up a spinal injuries unit based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. He was a strong advocate of sport as a therapy for spinal injury, building up strength and re-establishing self-belief.

In July 1948, timed to coincide with the opening of the London Olympics, he established the Stoke Mandeville Games which focused on wheelchair sports like archery and involved just over a dozen patients. By the time of the next Olympics (1952) 130 international competitors took part in the Stoke Mandeville Games. In 1960 (in Rome) they transformed into the Paralympic Games (a term which actually came into usage in 1984 [four years after the good doctor passed away] but is retrospectively applied to Rome). At Rome Margaret Maughan, one of Guttmann’s patients in the wake of a 1959 car accident, won Great Britain’s first ever Paralympic gold medal, in the archery competition. The 84 year old lit the flame in Thomas Hetherwick’s Olympic cauldron at last night’s marvellous Opening Ceremony.

Meanwhile back in the Athletes’ Village across the Olympic Park Guttmann’s daughter Eva Loeffler has been acting as the mayor of the village. “I think he would be immensely proud of what has happened. … For future Paralympic Games it shows they are in no way second class games, they’re parallel games.”

The opening ceremonies, Danny Boyle’s and last night’s by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, were very much in parallel and complementary – seated giants of Science Tim Berners-Lee and Stephen Hawking, The Tempest, Shaky thesps Kenneth Branagh and Ian McKellen, umbrellas, that beautifully designed cauldron, patiently swaying volunteers, and crucially punk attitude in John Lydon and Ian Dury to give the whole thing real British bite. Add to that some gold medal worthy signing alongside the singers, the rapturous welcome of the GB Team in their Major Tom-style white & gold suits, DV8’s incredible David Toole (star of the brilliant Cost of Living) and a rousing climax to the soul sounds of Beverley Knight in I Am What I Am and I am fired up for a very special occasion born of a very special man.

Lapping it up

Maragaret Maughan at London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Enlightened & Fired up (Margaret Maughan)

founder of Paralympic Games

A Good Man who outlived Adolf in every way

 

Post-script 2.ix.12:

Another Olympic thing we have to thank Adolf’s merry men for is the torch relay, made much of in both the Olympics and Paralympics in London 2012 – not an ancient Greek tradition but introduced by Carl Diem, organiser of the Berlin 1936 Games for some fake Classical dignity for the inglourious basterds.

Thanks for the warm-up

Some cheekiness from Channel 4, literally picking up from where the first #Superhumans trailer for the London 2012 Paralympics left off…

How wonderful is it to see a pretty much sold out Paralympics? London, you’re a star

Paralympics 2012 #3: 21 Jump Street

Helen Freeman brings the Paralympics close to home – born in Watford (where we snuck in as kids to Vicarage Road for the second half of Elton’s boys’ home matches) and trained in Stanmore (where Laurence Gould threw a bunch of skinheads down the stairs of the Tube). She made her national Paralympic debut at the 2008 Games in Beijing, where she was the youngest athlete to be selected for the GB women’s Wheelchair Basketball team. She subsequently moved to the USA in order to play at a more competitive level and now trains alongside players from the States and Canada at the University of Illinois. She was top scorer for GB at the Paralympic World Cup in 2010 with 21 points. Helen started playing Wheelchair Basketball when she was just 12 years old – she is 21 as the London 2012 Paralympic Games approaches and is tipped as one of the top three players in the world.

{Photo courtesy of Adam Pretty}

Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About The Paralympics

This 90 seconds of video is one of the best things that’s been made since I started at Channel 4 nine years ago (rivalled only by a dance in DV8’s Cost of Living and perhaps some moments in Jump London). It perfectly captures the spirit of Channel 4 and therefore why I work here.


I couldn’t have been prouder when it premiered last night simultaneously across 76 channels and got reactions like this (via Twitter):

Meet the Superhumans. C4 just made the Paralympics the most inspirational and important event this Summer

What an incredible promo #goosebumps #superhumans

Channel 4 just put down a big marker for best ad of #london2012 there with the #superhumans trail for the Paralympics

Oof. This trailer makes me want to watch the Paralympics much more than the Olympics.

Just seen the Channel 4 Paralympic ad. Great piece of work. Puts the very average BBC “Pixar” trailers to shame.

The Channel 4 Paralympic advert is something special! So much better than BBC!

what an inspirational advert about the paralympic games #Strength #Superhumans !!!

Stunning spot from channel 4 #superhumans. Very welcome to interrupt my viewing anytime…..

Just seen the premiere of the advert for the Paralympics  made me cry. Can’t think of a better word for those inspiring people #superhumans

Just got little bit emotional over Paralympics advert #inspirational

The channel four adverts are making me more excited for the paralympics than the olympics.

Advert for the Paralympics on Channel 4 is better than anything I’ve seen for the Olympics so far Oh  & I love that Public Enemy tune

And the choice of music is inspired – giving the trailer real attitude. Here’s the Public Enemy track Harder Than You Think and here’s where Chuck D and crew got that great brass sample from, close to home – of all places Shirley Bassey’s 1972 vintage Jezahel, so NYC meets …Cardiff.

Attitude is the key to this film and to C4. My favourite shots are the second one of the swimmer under the shower at 0:21 (her face is glowing with attitude) and the other swimmer adjusting her hair at 0:26. The trail was directed by Tom Tagholm of 4Creative.

When Team GB Paralympic team  got a preview of this trailer at a dinner on Saturday night they were delighted that their sport had finally been given the cool treatment and captured their spirit.

Paralympics 2012 #2: Alpha Female

Naked tennis player

2010 cover shoot for ESPN sports magazine’s annual Body issue

On the day of the Women’s Singles Final at Wimbledon and the weekend when Roger Federer is making another appearance in the Men’s equivalent, who better to spotlight than Dutch tennis player Esther Vergeer?

She has not been beaten in wheelchair tennis since 2003 having won 12 World Championship titles, 42 grand slams and 5 Paralympic gold medals (three singles, two doubles). When she won the US Open final 6-0, 6-0 in 2010, she extended her undefeated sequence to 396 matches and has been world number one since 1999. She has only had one match point against her since January 2003 and that was in the singles final at Beijing 2008. Her winning streak is now at 457. That means her record as a tennis Paralympian is better than the aforementioned Roger Federer and explains why she has been dubbed “the alpha female of world sport”.

The alpha female look

Esther on Channel 4, the Paralympics broadcaster London 2012, here and  here – speaking to Ade Adepitan and trying to order jellied eels in a Cockney accent

Esther in action

Fierce concentration

Paralympics 2012 #1: Lost and Found

He was nine – in fact it was his birthday – nine and messing on the train tracks in South Wales. As he tried to climb aboard the last carriage of a slow-moving freight train grinding to a halt on the Swansea to Paddington line, looking to get his kicks surfing on its roof, Nathan Stephens lost his legs, sheared off, never to kick again.

But in losing those youthful limbs in April 1997, it turned out he found something too. It changed his life forever. He is now a gold medal hope for javelin (my own preferred event at school, hence my starting this series with Nathan) at the London Paralympics to be covered by Channel 4 this summer. “Before the accident, he was wild and woolly. He would have been happy being a bin man and playing for the local rugby club”, according to his mother. “There is more determination to his life – you’ve only got one life, and you have to take every opportunity … He lost something, but he gained something even greater.”

London Paralympic Logo

2012 gets 2010 off to a flying start

British Paralympic cyclingAt 12:49 BST on 6th July 2005 I was in a meeting in a glass box in a corner of Channel 4 HQ with my then boss Heather Rabbatts and Andy Taylor (now of All3Media) as the result was announced of the winning city of the 2012 Olympic Games. Heather went particularly nuts as her husband Mike had been a key player in the London bid and was out there in Singapore with the posse of British teens who helped land my beloved native city the Big One.

An echo of that excitement tingled my spine on Friday when this note came through from our beloved creative leader (Kevin Lygo):

Dear Wondrous Staff,

A great bit of news to start the year.

The Olympic Committee has awarded us the rights to cover the Paralympics in 2012. There was a fiercely competitive tender between us and the BBC and it’s a testament to how hard many people in the channel worked that we won the bid. … It is an indication of how strong the organization is that we have been awarded such an important and prestigious opportunity.

Onwards and upwards.

Kevin.

PS. Ratings are up 18% so far this year. Oh yes.

C4 beat off bids by the emerging duopoly – BBC and BSkyB. The BBC were Britishly magnanimous in defeat: “…we are pleased that the Games will be available to free to air audiences, and we congratulate Channel Four on securing the rights. We are sure the 2012 Paralympics will be a great success.” It really is a good reflection of how the Beeb and C4 fit together on the Public Service Broadcasting landscape – complementary and with a constructive creative tension.

The 2012 Paralympics are definitely in the right home – the home of Cast Offs, Vee TV, Crip on a Trip, Born to be Different, The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off, and of course re-imagined, re-energised Cricket (up to the 2005 Ashes victory which I was lucky enough to experience C4-stylee at the Oval on 12th September 05). We’re all super-proud at C4 HQ to have won this one and are looking forward hugely to bringing C4 values to such a fundamentally inspiring event.

Here’s the full story…

Channel 4 to be the Paralympic Broadcaster in the UK in 2012

  • Deal will deliver over 150 hours of television coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games – more than ever before;
  • Channel 4 will run its biggest ever marketing campaign to promote the Paralympic Games;
  • Every penny LOCOG has raised from selling the rights will be invested to provide the biggest and broadest TV feed of the Paralympic Games ever;
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has awarded the UK broadcast rights to Channel 4 following a highly competitive tender process.

The deal with Channel 4 will provide the Paralympic Games and Paralympic sport with the strongest pre-Games broadcast coverage and marketing support it has ever received on UK television. As an example Channel 4 will be completely rebranded with a Paralympic theme after the London 2012 Olympic Games finish. Channel 4 will work with the world’s best production companies to build on its reputation for the most innovative sports coverage showcasing Paralympic sport to millions of viewers, fronted by a world-class presenting team.

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012 commented: “The eyes of the world will be focussed on the Paralympic Games – the world’s second biggest multi-sport event – in London in 2012. We will deliver a spectacular sporting showcase for the world’s greatest Paralympic athletes, and will use the power of Paralympic sport to raise awareness; challenge stereotypes; inspire understanding and communicate the Paralympic values of determination, courage, inspiration and equality.

We are absolutely delighted to appoint Channel 4 as our broadcast partner in the UK. Channel 4 shares our vision for the Paralympic Games, has a very strong appeal to young people, and will play a hugely important role in increasing public engagement and involvement in Paralympic sport in this country.

We are confident that the quality and depth of the broadcast coverage provided by Channel 4 not just for the 12 days of sport in 2012, but in the two and a half years leading up to the Games, will inspire disabled people of all ages to take up sport and be a catalyst for continued change in public attitudes towards disability. The commercial value of this deal has raised the bar financially for the Paralympic movement. ”

The deal with Channel 4 includes multi-platform broadcast rights within the UK, with non-exclusive rights in the Republic of Ireland. Channel 4 will produce and screen two peak time 10 part documentaries in 2011 and 2012, building the stories of the athletes and their journey to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It will also include dedicated coverage of the Paralympic Torch Relay and will be supported by the biggest marketing campaign in the broadcaster’s history.

Channel 4 will also cover key disability sports and sporting events, in the run up to the Paralympic Games in 2012.

At Games-time, Channel 4 will deliver over 150 hours of coverage of the Paralympic Games, with over 130 hours on their core channel (Channel 4). Paralympic sport has never had this level of exposure in the UK. The coverage will be led by a flagship peak-time show, and extensive coverage will also be provided on mobile and online. Subtitling and audio description will form part of all the programming, ensuring the widest possible audience can enjoy the Games.

Lord Burns, Channel 4’s Chairman Designate, said: “For Channel 4, the London Paralympic Games will be the main event, not a sideshow to the Olympics; the Games will define our year in 2012 and take over Channel 4 for their duration. The Paralympics will be one of the most significant sporting events to be staged in Britain for many years and we’re confident the more comprehensive and more cross-platform coverage we are offering can connect the Games with the widest possible cross-section of British viewers.

Kevin Lygo, Channel 4’s Director of Television and Content, added: “Channel 4 has done more than any other broadcaster to bring disability into the mainstream and we have a great track record of broadcast innovation with sports like Test cricket. We are genuinely thrilled to be given this opportunity to work with LOCOG to bring Paralympic sport into full public focus before, during and beyond the 2012 Games and to deliver a lasting legacy, including altering public attitudes to disability and disability sport.”

Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC commented: “The IPC congratulates Channel 4 as a free to air public broadcaster in being awarded the national television rights for the UK. I am sure they will work diligently in portraying just what a magnificent event the Paralympic Games really are, what Paralympic athletes are able to achieve and how they can inspire the world with their performances.

The IPC also wants to thank LOCOG, following a very open, transparent and fair process. The quality of all bids was very high, and I am confident that all bidding companies would have put on a great Paralympic Games coverage.”

Tanni Grey-Thompson commented: “I am pleased that the Paralympic Games will be shown by a terrestrial broadcaster in the UK in 2012. Channel 4 has some exciting plans for its coverage and marketing support.  I look forward to seeing these plans progress in the coming months and years ahead on the road to London 2012 ”

London Paralympic Logo

Love ya London

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