Sport and the British Week Three

Week Three: The advent of professionalism and modern spectator sport

Details of the five programmes broadcast 13-17 February:

Episode 11. Rugby’s Great Split, 13 February

The professionalisation of football in 1885 had rocked the world of rugby. If the same thing happened to their sport, the Rugby Football Union feared that it would lose its grip on the game – and if that happened, the whole social order would be under threat. A scenario in which the amateur teams from Britain’s public schools could be dominated – and beaten – by working class players was unimaginable. Clare Balding is joined by DMU’s Professor Tony Collins to consider the tensions between the working class teams in the north and the game’s governing body in the south that ultimately led to rugby’s great split in 1895.

Episode 12. Tennis and Golf in Suburbia, 14 February

As the middle classes moved from the cities to the suburbs, both men and women were looking for new ways to spend their leisure time. In this programme, Clare Balding looks at the social and recreational networks created by the emergence of golf and tennis clubs in English suburbia from the 1890s onwards. DMU’s Professor Richard Holt joins Clare to explain that the clubs were often as much about social division as inclusion.

Episode 13. Fighting Back, 15 February 

Boxing in England has a long association with ethnic minority communities, with former slaves taking part in the early days of modern boxing. By the 18th century, many boxers had Jewish backgrounds, with black fighters rising to prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet for some 40 years in the early 20th century, black boxers were banned from taking part in title fights. Clare Balding visits Lynn Boxing Club in south London – the oldest continuing amateur club in the country – and explores the relationship between boxing and British ethnic minorities with the help of DMU’s Professor Tony Collins.

Episode 14. Working Women, 16 February  

This programme looks at the provision of sport for working women – from the factory girls of Bournville to office workers in central London – and the growth in popularity of activities such as hiking, swimming and cycling. Clare Balding visits Bournville, home of Cadbury's, to explore how working women accessed the world of sport in the early 20th century, when major employers started to provide sporting facilities for their employees.

Episode 15. A bit of a flutter, 17 February

Betting brought new incentives to compete, but it also necessitated the laying down of clear rules. In this programme, the role of gambling in sport is considered, from the early days of race betting in the 18th century to the introduction of the pools in 1923. DMU’s Dr Dilwyn Porter and Professor Richard Holt join Clare Balding to look at the legitimisation of a criminal sub-culture and the rise of the high street betting shop.

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 


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.

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