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BBC bus will deliver the stories of the World Cup

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Paul Fletcher | 13:36 UK time, Saturday, 1 May 2010

It might evoke images of a bad-tempered Blakey, or even a youthful and sun-kissed Cliff Richard, but I'm optimistic that a double decker bus will help the BBC tell the story of the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa.

I will be onboard the bus alongside other television, radio and online journalists, whose brief will be to find out what the tournament means to ordinary South Africans and visiting fans alike.

Previously used to cover events such as the 2005 general election, the bus has a mobile television studio on the top deck, which will allow us to broadcast into highlights programmes and at half-time during live games from a variety of interesting and unusual locations.

The bus has a mobile television studio that will allow the team to broadcast from unusual locations The bus will allow the team to broadcast from unusual locations

The bus, which left English shores on Friday, will depart Cape Town on the opening day of the World Cup, 11 June and travel the length and breadth of the country before arriving in Johannesburg for the final one month later.

From influential charity projects, regenerated townships and out-of-the way villages to wildlife parks, sites of historical importance and Fifa fan fests, the bus will enable us to search for the soul of the nation as Africa hosts its first World Cup.

Events on the pitch will create moments that we see replayed again and again but a World Cup is about so much more than the football. The crew on the bus will try to bring the untold stories to life.

Football Focus frontman Dan Walker and namesake Rob will be on the bus with me, presenting for television, while Colin Paterson will report for Radio 5 Live.

Dan will continue writing his popular weekly blog, which has not only taken readers behind the scenes of Focus this season but has revealed the author's staggering and exhaustive list of culinary favourites.

As for Rob, who has been busy covering the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield for the BBC, I'm told he is looking forward to bringing his larger-than-life style of reporting to the bus. I have never actually met Rob but, as a somewhat slovenly individual, I look forward to benefitting from his lust for life.

I will be endeavouring to cover the on-field action for the BBC website, writing match reports and blogging from all the venues, but also capturing the atmosphere and emotion of the tournament.

We will be asking for your help to supply us with ideas of places to visit and people to see - and we could certainly do with a name for the bus.

In the meantime, I'll be covering the remainder of the Football League season, undertaking some safety training and persuading my wife that leaving her to look after our young son for a month is an excellent idea.

You can follow me throughout the season and during the World Cup at


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    BBC - Bonkers Bafana Coach.

    I'm not sure you'll convince her it's an excellent idea - if I were you, I'd settle on convincing her it's "acceptable" - or "manageable".
    I'll be very impressed with you, if you do indeed manage to convince her of it's excellence... I just get this feeling that you safety training might come in handy during your conversation. ;)

    Have fun on the bus my friend - and choose your routes wisely, some of the roads towards these minor villages wont be comfy.

    Also, I would suggest a little village called 'Humansdorp' just west of Port Elizabeth as a destination, I've never been there and know nothing about it. But I'd love for you to find out just how it got such a name.

  • Comment number 3.

    Really looking forward to all your reports, tales and blogs from the bus. Should be great!

    Before we can all think up suitable names for 'Moby' the 'Great White Whale' it going to stay in neutral U.N. style colours inorder to maintain strict BBC impartiality - or is it getting a coat of many colours paint job?

  • Comment number 4.

    Paul, truly excellent idea though watch out for a feral looking English fan on a bicycle mission....
    I've been on the long and bumpy road to SA2010 since october and am on course to see us show the the US 'what's up' in the opening game. I've also swum the Strait of gibraltar and will be running the Comrades ultra marathon when I get to SA as part of a charity raising ultra triathlon from Eng to the World Cup. Make sure you throw me some biltong on the way past or get in touch if you fancy a castle outside one of the grounds along the way..... you can check out where i'll be at
    good luck and see you at the final!

  • Comment number 5.

    As long as we don't see dan Walker attempting a dance routine with Una Stubbs at half time of England v USA , then I think its a good idea.

    Still, I guess when England inevitably go out on penalties in the quarters, 'The next Time' is an appropriate song to end with.

  • Comment number 6.


    Wow, what a Journey, I'm checking out all your stories and video blogs now. Bet you've had some fun along the way too.

    Enjoy the world cup! :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Hey Paul
    when in Durban visit me at my lodge in Umhlanga Rocks, you might bump into somebody you know as some of the BBC team are staying here, oh and watch out for the bridges with no hight markers or it will turn into a single decker.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am so looking forward to this World Cup although it will be a little strange cheering on England in Germany!

  • Comment number 9.

    Tough gig Paul! i'm sure the wife will find it in her heart to let you go though!

    If you make it up north try and visit the Kruger National Park with a great little stop at God's window on the way.

    Regarding the bus; paint it red and give it the number: 2010, destination: 'coming home' (hopefully)!

  • Comment number 10.

    What a great idea,
    I,m an Pom living in JHB and would love to cook you guys a traditional South African potjie to top off you trip.

    Think you'll need to add a black strip down the middle of your bus in order to be BEE compliant.

  • Comment number 11.

    Maybe you could also make a visit to Julius Melema's place, he love the BBC....!

  • Comment number 12.

    For Nick #2, Humansdorp is named after Johannes Jurie Human and Matthys Gerhardus Human, who were joint founders of the Dutch Reformed Church congregation there. Dorp means Town in Afrikaans. And , Paul, its a dead-and-alive town - dont bother going there.

    BTW you are very welcome to park your Bus on my front drive in Bergvliet,Cape Town if you so wish.

  • Comment number 13.

    The bus looks cool and very white.

    I have a feeling that this world cup will be a slight let down for many...I just hope i'm wrong.

    I'd love to cover the event with you guys but I can't so do exciting things and get up close and personal with the players.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well Paul, maybe we'll bump into each other in Cape Town as I'm staying there from the 4th June until the end of the first round proper (couldn't stay longer, yes, the French give loads of holidays even to the Brit expats but it's not unlimited!).

    See you there ;p

  • Comment number 15.

    Hope it is bullet proof

  • Comment number 16.

    Hey, nice blog and nice bus. I really think the BBC comes into it's own when the world cup is on because the coverage is always very good, the studio guests are very good and they always come up with interesting idea's like this bus for instance.
    I really hope this world cup is not a let down but to be honest i think it will be very good and the only thing that could put a slight dampener on events are those stupid loud bubuzela's or whoever you spell them. I know they are part of south african tradition but they spoil the atmosphere and must make the commentator's job very difficult having to shout above them just to be heard through their microphones.

    I think you should call the bus "the jabulani bus" in reference to the name of the football being used at the world cup. Another potential name for the bus could be "White Hot" or "White's Alright".

  • Comment number 17.

    can't begin to imagine how a few hundred thousand well off tourists are going to make some of the poorer blacks feel, i think south africa got it too early, selling football there, as if the world cup will change the place, it may for a few, like Brazil the majority of fans cannot afford the entrance fees

  • Comment number 18.

    Maybe you could let people paint or draw things on the side of the bus to reflect what the world cup means to them?

  • Comment number 19.

    maybe the colour will upset some

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting idea but I don't think that bus will be able to access a lot of the villages in Southern Africa

  • Comment number 21.

    @ LB Not a wise idea to use any reference of "white" on the bus - it will become an instant target...!

  • Comment number 22.

    Good stuff! Loving the wacky bus!

    Here's something you might be interested in - an alternative World Cup competition being held in Stellenbosch near Cape Town on June 28th to raise funds for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation ( - they work to provide a future to children in South Africa who have been orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS...

    Details here:

  • Comment number 23.

    I should add, the fundraiser is being organised by a Northern Irishman and a Scot. Beats twiddling our thumbs...

  • Comment number 24.

    Now then,

    Many thanks for your comments and suggestions - some really excellent ideas. Keep them coming.

    I really, really believe that we will be visiting some fascinating places and unearthing some stories that deserve to be told but might become slightly lost as we all go a little football crazy.

    I'm looking forward to finding out how South Africans from all different sections of society feel about the World Cup taking part in their country. I also want to know what sort of difference and impact the game can have over and above whether your team has won or lost.

    And with so much speculation about how many people will travel to SA for the tournament it will be fascinating to see whether it is one big footy festival or a bit of a damp squib.

  • Comment number 25.

    boozer22, good point i was a bit naive and didnt realise that i had made the bus a target until i actually looked back on my post, i also didnt realise i put whoever instead of however which is what i meant to write. An altenative name for the bus could be the friendly meerkat bus.

    I really hope the world cup doesnt turn out to be a dissapointment and i hope the stadiums are full but judging by the ticket sales it doesn't seem too promising. I think the biggest dissapointment of the world cup could be Argentina, in my opinion they have the best potential squad in the tournament but possibly the worst manager, i hope maradona proves me wrong because it would be a great shame if they flopped. These are some of the strikers who could be in the squad : Higuain, Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Milito, Lisandro Lopez. Is there a squad in world football with better strikers than that, i'm not so sure.

    There possible starting 11 would be something like this :
    GK : Carrizo, RB : Zanetti, CB : Demichelis, CB : Samuel or Burdisso, LB : Heinze or Insua
    Midfield consisting of : Gago, Macherano, Maxi, Veron, Di Maria, Gutierrez, Aimar, Banega, lucho gonzalez, cambiasso.
    Strikers : messi, aguero, tevez

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Paul,
    depending on the bug infestation, it could be … the "roach coach"
    Or if you become the dominant personality … the "Fletch stretch"
    If a certain Liverpool stalwart hadn't lost form (or indeed, hadn't retired) - the "Carrabang"
    Considering the occupants, it could be called the "Journo jalopy"
    If you change the horn to something more local and topical, it could be the "vuvuzela trailer"
    If you're doing a meals on wheels service, it could be the "Yam tram"
    Bit of a mouthful, but it would be technically correct to call it the "Broadcaster Routemaster"
    Mix that with a footy term, and you could have the "Route shoot"
    But my vote would go to the "Bafana bus"

  • Comment number 27.

    You could take a leaf out of Adidas book and call it simply a b'us

  • Comment number 28.

    Sounds like it could be alot of fun, Paul- though, of course, you are there to work *winks knowingly*! People are starting to make their World Cup predictions- so who do you favour at the moment?

    Here's an interesting piece about some of the frontrunners:

  • Comment number 29.

    I am not so sure about this bus. Are you sure you can travel around the country with all your BBC friends and not get into trouble ?
    On another note, the top deck on this bus will be great for animal spotting if you are left wandering around outside the highway :)

  • Comment number 30.

    Why don't you just call the bus Fabio? I think it would give the bus character for some reason.

  • Comment number 31.

    Sounds great!

  • Comment number 32.

    Loving all the suggestions - bafana bus looking good at the moment but we are more than keen for further ideas.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think this is a great idea. I think it would be great if people you interact with - locals, football stars and visiting fans - could write/draw some sort of momento on the bus. I look forward to following how things are going, it is hard to get the world cup fever out here in New Zealand.

  • Comment number 34.

    For an Englishman living in New Zealand (and following them in South Africa), it would be good to see the BBC bus somewhere near one of the New Zealand games. I think you may have to get in quick though - not sure they'll get much further than 3 games!

    Up the All Whites! See for all whites news

  • Comment number 35.

    A brilliant about calling it tokoloshi??(a village wizard)
    shosholoza(push/move)or the trekmobile..(voorhtrekkers)...definitely some color please.....cave paintings, ndebele designs, or a combo of all the cultures in SA......

  • Comment number 36.

    lots of color as it is the rainbow nation you will be driving in try and stop off in a little town called Ladybrand about 1h 30 drive from bleomfontein it a nice plc...

  • Comment number 37.

    @BLUES55 #15, 17 & 19 - You've got issues with Africa pal. A hangover perhaps. Well, let's get back to this after the world cup.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ref Hippo on toast's suggestion - can't call the bus Fabio becasue he's a Coach not a bus!

    Anyway. The bus might wish to call into the Prue Leith Academy in Centurion where the students devised a new national dish for the English fans - a pie obviously. Andrew Harding's BBC blog has more.

  • Comment number 39.

    Its a tough job isn't it Paul! I look forward to watching/hearing/reading the reports from the bus on the World Cup.

    I hope this world cup will follow on from the 2006 world cup in Germany, where they gave a good account of the country as a whole and definitley improved their public image with their efficiency.

  • Comment number 40.

    Surely it has to be the Bufana Broadcasting Coach?

  • Comment number 41.

    Great idea regarding the bus. The doubts and concerns about the hosting of the event, will as usual be laid to rest. Stadia and airports ready well ahead of time, other infrastructure projects heading for completion, training venues in top shape, ticket sales over the 90% sold mark...

  • Comment number 42.

    Please excuse me for being pedantic. The BBC coverage of the World Cup has been billed as "The World Cup from the Rainbow Nation".

    However, the trailer features the colour white (which is not one of the colours of the rainbow) and the main graphic only contains six coloured stripes (rather than seven - either indigo or violet is missing, couldn't tell you which).

    If you are going to go with a theme, please do it properly!!

  • Comment number 43.

    How about calling the bus the Gravy Train

  • Comment number 44.


    There's a party in Cape Town over the World Cup called Cool Britannia in the centre of Cape Town - not sure whats going on when you're there on 11th but I've got my ticket for Fatboy Slim on the night of the England game - cant wait to get out to SA!!! DIzzee Rascal playing on the 16th too - what a buzz!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Like a holiday, Paul. You must hate your job!

  • Comment number 46.

    As a New Zealander, supporting the All Whites Football team, I think the bus is just fine the colour it is!

  • Comment number 47.

    Call your bus the BBC Shongololo.
    Shongololo is the Zulu name for a millipede, quite appropriate as the bus crawls its way across the length and breadth of the country.

    As for the paint job, how about a version of the very distinctive Ndebele designs? Someone creative could incorporate the colours of the participating teams' flags to represent the global participation in the event in a typically African design.

  • Comment number 48.

    Let me know when you're in Durban. I'm there for 3 weeks and i'll come and say hello.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am looking forward to watching the World Cup 2010, I will be cheering England on from abroad. Though I will be lucky to see most matches as the arrogance of the Spanish free to air broadcasting system only air their own national game matches and, as I have been informed, did so in the last World Cup and Euro tournament. Not very sporting in my opinion.

  • Comment number 50.

    The bus needs a decent spay job... the way it looks now really doesn't capture the colourful spirit of an African World Cup! Plus some raised suspension for the dirt tracks if you really plan to find the villages of South Africa!

  • Comment number 51.

    I think the World Cup in South Africa is going to be the best one yet. Just check out and see for yourself.

  • Comment number 52.

    God hope the BBC dont paint the Bus Yellow and plaster the BBC Sport Logo on it.
    Maybe at the World Cup Opening Game, that Fans get to put designs on it, colour them in and then the Bus goes on its Journey.
    Will the Bus double up as a Hotel?
    Make sure that when you do cover Stories that we have all the angles and not Just the One.
    Or maybe the BBC should just broadcast the Whole World Cup from it rather than having an expensive Studio? That would be funny.

  • Comment number 53.

    why not go to the place where they have found on the oldest human remains? the cradle of mankind? in a (far off) sense the world is now returning to the cradle. and paint a football on a rock when no-one is looking :)

  • Comment number 54.

    I hope the bus is fully kitted out. A beer fridge and a portable telly just doesn't cut it these days...

  • Comment number 55.

    "World Cup is about so much more than the football" - Well said.

    The forthcoming World Cup is going to be a celebration of life. Let's wish the footballers, their coaching staff, referees, organizers, media staff, fans and the hosts a jolly good time.

    BBC Bus is a fine initiative. Nice Blog Paul. Thanks.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 56.

    If you are going to be doing some filming, then you have to fly in a full time Blakey. There has to be a "looky likey" out there who would wear the hat, and work as security, making sure no-one would get on the bus without paying their half a sixpence. It does not get any more British than a real "jobsworth". I can do it.

    Make sure you avoid the dodgy areas. Remember the ACN tournament this year? There is no respect to buses from some quarters. But what a great deck to sit back, grab a few beers and watch Africa go by. You're a lucky SOaB Paul. Very envious.

    Bus design - leave it white, and let the bus get graffiti. It would be an awesome memory to the auction off afterwards. You can get a lot of stories on a bus.

    Bus name - The Rainbow Ride.

    Have fun.

  • Comment number 57.

    call the bus,

    the rainbow train


  • Comment number 58.

    The bus looks ripe for a red cross to be painted on it - surely ?


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