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TX: 04.11.05 - Murderball

PRESENTER: JOHN WAITE

THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.


WAITE
A new film opens in cinemas today called "Murderball". It's a tough action movie set in the world of sport and involves hard men doing battle with each other in specially built chariot-like machines. There are thrills and spills, as well as tears and sex and the central character is the team coach - Joe Soares - a man driven to distraction and a heart attack by his all consuming need to win. Only this is no fiction - it's a documentary about wheelchair rugby and the almost demonic rivalry between the US and Canadian teams as they prepare for last year's Paralympics in Athens. It's a real life grudge match as coach Soares, dropped by the all conquering US side, defects to the Canadians and then seeks his revenge by trying to secure victory over his old team mates.

CLIP
Joe got a little upset, a little angry he didn't make the team, tried to take us to court.

He just demanded [indistinct words] and he lost all of his protests.

Just because things didn't work out for him he jumped ship and left to go up north. And now he's coach up in Canada.

He took the plays with him, he took some of our callers with him, so he'd know when to attack and how to attack.

USA learn a new way.

WAITE
Well Murderball, which by the way is the Canadian term for wheelchair rugby, has already got the critics raving. And it'll be of particular interest, I'm sure, to Noel Thomas, who joins us now, on the phone from his home in Redcar, because Noel is in the long squad for the British wheelchair Paralympic team, whose coach now is none other than Joe Soares. So there's a prospect Noel, having Joe Soares coming to coach Team GB, how do you think you'll get on?

THOMAS
Hopefully we'll get on well. I'm a little bit nervous and a little bit excited. Nervous because he seems like a hard man to please, he's very driven by the sport and wants it done and wants it done right. And also very excited to gain from his experience.

WAITE
Well he is a man, you know, who if he's not shouting and screaming at his side is almost struck dumb by the tension of worrying about whether they'll win.

THOMAS
Absolutely, he takes it sort of very passionately and I think which will be very good in the long run for GB.

WAITE
So what did you think of the film Noel?

THOMAS
I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable and very well made and after talking to a couple of other people that have seen it, we sort were of the understanding that it's very, very good.

WAITE
What in particular did you like?

THOMAS
I liked the way that it came across and it came across that although we're in wheelchairs we're still very competitive and we take it very serious and we enjoy the sport.

WAITE
Now the wheelchairs that the teams in the film use are specially built, so they're almost chariot-like, as I say, and the players crash into one another as they do their tackles, it's rough and tough and neither side takes prisoners.

CLIP
Two wheels have to cross over the line with possession of the ball. And you get one point. The other guys stop you by slamming their chair into you. You have to dribble the ball or pass to a team mate once every 10 seconds. Other than that it's basically kill the man with the ball.

WAITE
So Noel Thomas, very exciting scenes, so at times when I was watching this at home last night I was on the edge of my seat, but then at other times - I'm thinking about that scene when the young soldiers - disabled casualties from the war in Iraq - come home, they've been so badly injured that they're in wheelchairs, these young squadies looking - their faces frozen with fear about being in a wheelchair now for the rest of their lives, and then they're shown by members of the Murderball team what you can do - that was very moving wasn't it.

THOMAS
It was the same for me when I had my injury, I was sort of thinking what am I going to do now, I'm going to be stuck in a wheelchair, I'm not going to be able to do anything and until you actually realise what is out there, and I believe that I've actually done more with my life since being in a wheelchair than I did before, I've done a skydive and I'm now playing wheelchair rugby and all the rest of it, but the first sort of couple of weeks you think that you're just going to be stuck in hospital and it's not until you speak to other people that have been in a wheelchair for a long time that you realise what you can actually do.

WAITE
And what about the sex scenes, because there are some - I mean there are women all over this film - the lovers and the girlfriends and the wives of these sides - I mean this being a documentary these are real sex scenes, did you have any problem with them?

THOMAS
Not at all. Actually watching the film it made me sort of chuckle and sort of remember six years ago I was sort of thinking the same thing - am I going to have an active sex life again. So to see some of the lads go through it again, it actually made me sort of smile and chuckle. And again it came across really well, I'm glad they didn't shy away from the subject and that they did actually show that people in a wheelchair can still have an active sex life.

WAITE
Now the main player character - and he travels all over the place promoting the game Murderball - he says at one point - My life is much fuller now than ever it was before I was wheelchair bound - a bit like what you just said Noel. But what do you think this film will do for the public's perception of people and their lives in a wheelchair?

THOMAS
I think that for the general public sort of that watch the film will feel not as nervous to approach somebody in a wheelchair because the way that the people in the film come across is that they're normal lads - they still sort of go out and enjoy themselves and have a beer - they're just in a wheelchair.

WAITE
Noel Thomas, thank you very much. And Radio 4's film programme has an interview with Murderball's director - Henry Rubin - in next Saturday's edition of the film programme, November 12th at 5.30 p.m. It's a good film, go and see it.





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