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Duration: 30 minutes

As the M25 celebrates its 25th birthday, Sally Boazman - Radio 2's voice of traffic - takes a momentous road trip to see how the motorway has changed our economy, environment and living habits forever. She meets the people who gave birth to it, the team that keeps it moving and even a couple who got married on it.

Last on

Sat 29 Oct 2011 17:10 BBC One Cambridgeshire, East, London, Oxfordshire, South, South East only

  • VIDEO: M25 celebrates 25th anniversary

    VIDEO: M25 celebrates 25th anniversary

    As the M25 celebrates its 25th birthday, Sally Boazman takes a road trip to see how the motorway has changed our economy, environment and living habits.

    The 117-mile orbital road took more than 11 years to build. It cost £1bn, and used more than 2m tons of concrete and 3.5m tons of asphalt.

    The final section was opened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in October 1986 to a huge fanfare.

    Sally Boazman charts the M25's history, follows the team that keeps it moving, and meets a couple who even got married on it.

    BBC News: The Road to Nowhere
  • MRS THATCHER AND THE M25

    MRS THATCHER AND THE M25

    The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stands of an empty stretch of motorway - the "missing link" of the M25 - which she opened at Radlett, Hertfordshire on 29 October 1986.

    Photo c/o PA Images.

  • THE M25 AT NIGHT

    THE M25 AT NIGHT

    Photo credit Getty Images.

  • THE M25'S HISTORY

    THE M25'S HISTORY

    The M25 on its 10th anniversary in 1996.

    Photo - PA Images.

  • M25 - RAVE MEETING PLACE

    M25 - RAVE MEETING PLACE

    A couple of year after the M25 opened a rave scene developed in London. Party animals descended on the M25 and parties took place on the road's periphery.

    Photographer Samantha Williams remembers the rave parties and meeting points...

    Rave Reunited
  • Have your say: Share your M25 memories

    Have your say: Share your M25 memories

    The M25 will be 25-years-old on Saturday 29 October. How has the motorway changed your life?

    Do you have any stories to share about the M25? Has something out of the ordinary happened to you on the motorway?

    Send your comments to the BBC using the form below:

    Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International).

    BBC News: M25 turns 25: Share your memories
  • Behind the scenes: Sally Boazman on making the film

    One day, a Mr Ray Hough rang me at my office at BBC Radio 2 and introduced himself as a film maker.

    He said he wanted to make a road movie with me for BBC One.

    Immediately, my mind raced as I thought about the exotic locations that might be involved; I could see a glamorous new wardrobe, a personal make-up artist, and miles of Bruce Springsteen inspired backdrops.

    However, it became clear that this film was no visual Born to Run. It was to be about the M25.

    So I soon found myself at such exotic locations as Thurrock Services (Junction 30), and, even more excitingly, South Mimms Services (junction 23).

    Then there was the bridge across the roadworks between junctions 10 and 9 - my goodness, this was the life.

    It was actually a revelation.

    Take the couple, Chris and Sue Smith, who won a competition on a local radio station for an all expenses paid wedding. Another couple had won the same competition the week before, and had been flow to the Bahamas. However, Sue and Chris weren't so lucky.

    Their prize was a wedding on the M25 at Thurrock Services, junction 30, complete with buffet and coach waiting outside.

    They spent their wedding night on this coach, complete with four-poster bed, going round and round the motorway.

    Between you and me, nothing exciting happened. It was a bit difficult with the driver just yards away, even though they circumvented the motorway at least three times, equivalent to around 350 miles.

    Chris Marshall was another find. He has devoted most of his life to studying the road system in this country. There's nothing he doesn't know about motorways, viaducts, underpasses, flyovers and junction numbers.

    I had the best time trading "I bet you don't know's..." with him. Of course, he knew far more than me, but I didn't sulk for long.

    He reminded me that originally, there were plans for several ring roads around the capital, but the only one to survive was the M25.

    Lord Gilbert, Transport Minister at the time the M25 was being developed, says the others didn't make it because they were too expensive, and there were loud, and ultimately successful, protests.

    But there are serious issues; wherever you live, if you drive it's likely that you've been on the M25 at least once.

    And it's also likely you've been stuck in one those horrendous jams I report, almost daily.

    Oddly, though, during the whole week that we filmed on the motorway, we didn't get stuck once.

    Yes, we filmed jams, but managed somehow to avoid them. And this explains our love/hate relationship with the busiest motorway in the country.

    We love it when it works, which it does, but hate it when it doesn't.

    And if it's at the bottom of your garden, it could be detrimental to your health.

    If a new service station is being built near your once-picturesque village, then you lose your local road system for a least a year while they lay down cables.

    And yet, as Chris Marshall explained, the M25 has made it possible to live, say, in Hertfordshire and work in Surrey.

    Estate agent Anthony Wardell says that some property around it has risen by 400% since it was built.

    And others say that the development of the M4 corridor, and its high-tech businesses, wouldn't have happened without access to the M25.

    However, Stephen Joseph, a campaigner for better transport, doesn't agree. He says that trying to follow the America Motorway Dream just isn't possible in a country of our size.

    He calls it "trying to dig a ditch in a bog".

    We will, he says, regret having built the South East around it.

    Whatever your view, it's here to stay. Love it or loathe it, our lives have come to depend on it.

    And although I didn't get my exotic locations, we did get some great road songs in it and I actually became quite fond of the old thing.

    Except, that is on a Friday night when there's a 50 mile jam, clockwise, from junction 10 at Cobham through to the M1 at junction 21...

Credits

Producer
Ray Hough

Broadcasts

  • Sat 29 Oct 2011 17:10 BBC One Cambridgeshire, East, London, Oxfordshire, South, South East only

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