Sport and the British Week Four

Week Four: The National Cultures of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales

Details of the five programmes to be broadcast 20 - 24 February:

Episode 16. Cricket and the English Hero, 20 February

This programme studies the heroes of English cricket, from the larger-than-life character of WG Grace in the late 19th century to the more deferential figure of Jack Hobbs – the greatest ever opening batsman – in the early 20th century. DMU’s Professor Richard Holt joins Clare Balding to discuss the changing ideas of English national identity and consider how the character of one man can come to stand for a whole nation.

Episode 17. Anyone but England, 21 February

The intense football culture of Scotland has produced numerous heroes in English football, with many top English clubs owing their success to managers and players from north of the border. In this programme, Clare Balding visits Hampden Park in Glasgow to explore the role football has played in developing Scotland's national identity and defining its relationship with England. Sports writer Hugh McIlvanney also discusses why supporting ‘anyone but England’ is still part of the country's sporting mindset.

Episode 18. Welsh Rugby and its National Heroes, 22 February

In 19th century Wales, rugby was played by working class men who turned out for their team after they’d done their day job – like it was in the north of England. Yet the Welsh didn’t follow the northern clubs who left the Rugby Football Union in 1895 to form the professional game of rugby league. In this programme, Clare Balding visits Cardiff Arms Park stadium to explore the role rugby plays in shaping Welsh identity and discusses how things changed with the advent of professionalism with Professor Tony Collins from De Montfort University. 

Episode 19. Ireland: Politics on the pitch, 23 February

The founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes in 1884 sent a strong message to Britain: this was an organisation that would promote traditional Irish games, such as hurling and Gaelic football, but it would also play an influential role in Irish society that extended far beyond the basic aim of promoting Gaelic games. Clare Balding explores the history of the GAA with Professor Michael Cronin, Visiting Professor at DMU.

Episode 20. Ireland: North of the Border, 24 February

In this programme, Clare Balding visits Falls Road in Belfast, where she reflects on the Catholic/Protestant divide and explores the effects of The Troubles on sport in Northern Ireland. She describes how, for many people, their allegiance to a particular team was based on religious and political beliefs, which often led to violent clashes between rival fans. Boxer Barry McGuigan – a Roman Catholic married to a Protestant – joins Clare to reflect on how he tried to remain neutral during The Troubles.

Details of previously broadcast episodes

Week One: The Birth of Modern Sport in 18th Century England
Broadcast 30 January - 3 February 2012

Week Two: Victorian sporting values and the role of Britain’s public schools
Broadcast 6 - 10 February 2012 

Week Three: The advent of professionalism and modern spectator sport
Broadcast 13-17 February 2012


Sports historians from DMU’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC) have been working on the scripts with the BBC for more than three years. Learn more about our historians

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Sport and the British has been produced by the BBC as part of its programme of events in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. The production team at BBC Birmingham comprises Lucy Lunt, Sara Conkey and Garth Brameld.

Clare Balding

Clare Balding talked about life, sport and her new series on BBC Radio 4 at a special event at DMU.

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