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History
THE REUNION
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THE REUNION - CHARIOTS OF FIRE
Sunday 3 August 2003
11.15 am, repeated Friday at 9.00 am

Sue MacGregor reunites Nigel Havers, Ben Cross, David Puttnam, Colin Welland and Hugh Hudson and discovers what made Chariots of Fire such a huge success.

l-r: Sue MacGregor, David Puttnam, Nigel Havers, Hugh Hudson and Colin Welland



Chariots of Fire was released across the UK in the summer of 1981. It went on to win an astonishing four Oscars against tough competition.

The story of two runners, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, from very different backgrounds who triumph in the 1924 Olympics, it made stars of the then unknown actors who played the athletes: Ian Charleson, Ben Cross and Nigel Havers.

It established David Puttnam as one of Britain's leading producers. It was also the directorial debut of Hugh Hudson and secured Colin Welland an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Ben Cross recalls the pain of the strict training regime he put himself through and the exhaustion of filming the famous beach running scenes in St Andrews: "we had to run barefoot in icy cold water for what seemed like hours".

Nigel Havers admits to breaking his wrist as he jumped the hurdles, but he carried on filming for fear of being fired: "I just thought this sort of film doesn't come along twice in a career, so I had to grin and bear it".

David Puttnam remembers the funding nightmare of getting the money together and the moment when he won the Oscar for Best Film: "I got up from my seat and just felt my knees buckle".

Hugh Hudson talks about his anger at being snubbed by the Cambridge authorities who were concerned that they were being portrayed as anti-Semitic: "they were totally bigoted and totally wrong".

Colin Welland speaks about the exuberant moment when he yelled: "the British are coming", and the criticism that followed it, "it was just a joke with some boys I'd met in a bar".

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THE REUNION 2004

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In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
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Sue MacGregor
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