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Torch relay sparks flame of interest in Olympics

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Roger Mosey | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

We've pretty clear evidence from our website and from market research what it is that interests most people at this stage about London 2012.

And it is - with an appropriate fanfare - the Olympic torch relay.

On Monday, as we published details of the Torch's route across the UK, there were more than 2m views of that information on

This ties in with the research that shows it's the thing more people want to try to see than anything else, which is perfectly logical given that the flame will travel all around the country and could even be coming along your street.

So here at the BBC we're taking the Torch relay seriously.

It's a chance to share the Olympics across the whole of the United Kingdom, and if it works it should do two things - help everyone feel part of London 2012, but also celebrate the communities of our islands as they have their moment in the spotlight.

We'll disclose our network coverage plans nearer the time. Today, though, we're announcing a range of programming across the BBC's Nations and Regions - which will mean audiences will have unrivalled access to the Olympic torch story when it's in their area.

Each of the BBC's Nations and Regions will transmit a special extended version of their flagship News programmes when the flame is in their patch. This means they will be on air from 6.30 to 7.30, replacing The One Show for just one night. The plan looks like this:

22 May Olympic Torch Live: West, Bristol
24 May Olympic Torch Live: West Midlands, Worcester
25 May Olympic Torch Live: Wales, Cardiff
1 June Olympic Torch Live: North West, Liverpool
6 June Olympic Torch Live: Northern Ireland, Belfast
13 June Olympic Torch Live: Scotland, Edinburgh
15 June Olympic Torch Live: North East, Newcastle
18 June Olympic Torch Live: East Yorks and Lincs, Hull
25 June Olympic Torch Live: Look North (Yorks), Sheffield
29 June Olympic Torch Live: East Midlands, Derby
3 July Olympic Torch Live: East, Peterborough
12 July Olympic Torch Live: South West, Weymouth
13 July Olympic Torch Live: South, Bournemouth
18 July Olympic Torch Live: South East, Dover

The shows will be live from the evening celebration events in our major towns and cities and we're confident they'll be a popular addition to the schedule. But if for some reason you'd rather stay with the network schedule, you'll be able to on satellite and cable providers or by tuning to BBC One HD.

This will be supplemented by radio - by the national stations Radio Ulster, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, and by local radio across the English regions.

Most typically the flagship output will be at breakfast time as the Torch is starting its journey, but you'll be able to keep in touch all day while the torchbearers and convoys are wending their way across the countryside.

On the evidence of previous host countries, it's when the flame makes its appearance that the public realise the Games are really, finally about to begin.

The UK looks like it's already spotted that, so we'll do our best to live up to those expectations locally and regionally as well as nationally and internationally.


  • Comment number 1.

    I know I posted this on your blog entry, but thought I'd post here too in case you'd moved on and only monitored comments on your most recent entry...

    I'm wondering if the BBC are planning on waiving the licence fee requirements for the opening and closing ceremonies, and maybe the super Saturday coverage to encourage community events.

    They did this for the royal wedding last year - it would seem a fitting time to do so again - it's not like we host the Olympics very often...

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm carrying it in South Shields, Newcastle on the 16th of June!

  • Comment number 3.

    Just wondering why there is no local coverage from the BBC when the relay starts in Devon and Cornwall a full two days before they start any local coverage. Seems strange to me.

    My son, who is Autistic, is carrying the torch through Ilfracombe and it would be good to see someone with his disability being properly recognized, rather than see all the negative publicity that Autism seems to attract.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dan in #1: I read all the comments, promise, but just waiting for some information before I reply to this.

    Peripat in #3: There will be extensive network coverage of the Torch in the south-west, which we'll announce later in the Spring. The arrival of the Flame at Culdrose on Friday 18th May and then the start of the Relay itself on Saturday 19th May will be BBC One moments UK-wide --- supplemented, of course, by local radio and regional television coverage in Cornwall and Devon. Meantime, best of luck to your son!

  • Comment number 5.

    Interesting to note, that in all the build up to this year's games and the relay there has been no mention in the mainstream press of the Olympic torch relay's Nazi origins - it doesn't originate from Ancient Greece, but was brainchild of Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi's in the run up to the Berlin Oympics of 1936, in a classic example of Nazi pomp & show.

    The BBC ran a story on it on the run up to the Beijing Olympics, mainly to highlight alleged human rights abuses in China, but this time round maybe it's dodgy past is less convenient now the Olympics are good old Blighty. When I went to a display of the in Brighton last year which was touring the country to show people the torch there was a history of the torch & the relay, which conveniently left out this fact in an airbrushing of Olympic History.

    I wonder how people would feel about this whole aspect of the Olympic relay if they were aware of it's dubious origins?

  • Comment number 6.

    @5. I found this out some years ago & in all honesty it doesn't bother me a jot. I can't see what the present day Torch Relay has to do with the Third Reich & it's just a fun way to celebrate the build up to the games. No big story here I feel.

  • Comment number 7.

    I've seen plenty of mentions of it's origins in the reports this week too petefij. It's no big secret that the torch relay began in Berlin 1936 - and London opted to continue with it after the war.

  • Comment number 8.

    P.S. Any chance of these local specials getting a national outing either on the red button or BBC News.

  • Comment number 9.

    @7 If it's no big secret why did the travelling exhibition decide not too mention it, seeing as that's where the origins of the procession lay? & @6 what has the modern day torch relay got to do with the Third Reich? Um er - they invented it! That's pretty big , if inconvenient and uncomfortable fact!

  • Comment number 10.

    Let's be honest we have to push the wonder of seeing the torch as a way oft enabling the public to feel part of the games because the majority of the public have not been able to get tickets for the games especially the key events as Coe et al have set the priority for those tickets and others somewhere else.

    Huge amounts of public funds have been ploughed into an event that only a small proportion of the public can get tickets to watch. But that's ok, the sponsors (not the public) and the dignitaries can sit at the table the rest of us can make do with the crumbs

  • Comment number 11.

    I wonder if the "OLYMPIC TORCH" will take a tour around Woolwich Common.
    There's an ISSF OLYMPIC Trial event between 17th April 2012 - 29th April 2012.
    Hopefully, the event will imbue the nation with interest in the shooting events ?


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