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Awaiting the start of the Olympic torch relay

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Roger Mosey | 08:30 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2012

So we're about to get under way.

London's Olympic flame will be lit in Greece this Thursday and then on 18 May it will be with us here in the UK.

That means the BBC's coverage of the torch relay begins, and we'll be offering everyone the chance to follow the journey from Olympia to East London with whatever twists and turns there are along the route.

First up will be the lighting ceremony itself on the morning of Thursday, 10 May. Expect pan pipes and women looking mysterious in white robes.

Coverage will be on the BBC News Channel, Radio 5 Live and our usual online portfolio including our 2012 website.

Then it will be mainly BBC News reporting of the relay through Greece, in what is a particularly turbulent time politically for that country.

A week later, on the evening of 17 May, there's the handover of the flame in Athens from its Greek custodians to the London 2012 team - which will involve the Princess Royal and Seb Coe amid more white robes.

This will be live not just on our news output but also on BBC Two in a programme starting at 5.15pm.

Next morning the flame takes to the skies and is flown from Athens to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where it will arrive - all being well - within a special edition of The One Show live from 7 to 8pm.

Still from BBC torch relay trail

The BBC has begun highlighting the Olympic torch relay with a trail on television and online

It's not a huge ceremony but it's a significant moment when the flame is on British soil for the first time ahead of its journey around almost every part of our islands.

The relay starts the next morning at Land's End with live coverage on BBC One's Breakfast and across our radio and online services - though it's a good job it has an early debut because it's a day packed with big events including the Championship play-off at Wembley and the Champions League Final in Munich.

Radio 1 will be (optimistically) starting its summer that night, too.

But if you want to follow the torch all the way, you'll be able to do that online. The BBC Torchcam - #bbctorchcam on Twitter - will be aboard a media vehicle within the convoy that surrounds the runners and as well as providing news coverage it will be offering a continuous stream of the relay's journey.

It won't quite be live: for technical reasons to do with making the picture as reliable as possible, we're expecting a delay of about two minutes.

But when we get nearer the time we'll be explaining how you'll be able to follow where the torch actually is as well as where it's been - and where it's going to.

I said in a magazine piece a couple of weeks ago that some people - a minority, we hope - may find this about as interesting as The Paint-Drying Channel.

But it's part of our commitment to the whole of the UK that we'll be marking the daily celebrations in our Nations and Regions programming, including local radio, as well as judiciously on the main networks.

The evidence so far is that the torch relay attracts a lot of attention online - two million hits in one day when the route was published - as well as massive interest in the towns it will be visiting.

Plus, of course, it will be this flame that makes its appearance in the Olympic Stadium on the night of 27 July, when we expect one billion people to be watching live - and there'll be no mistaking its role at the heart of London's Games.


  • Comment number 1.

    Quick question Roger, what time is the flame due to be lit tomorrow? Will there be live coverage from the ceremony or will it just feature in news reports?

  • Comment number 2.

    @angbur: expected to be between 0930 and 1030 with live coverage on the BBC News Channel, radio and online.

  • Comment number 3.

    A shame it's not scheduled as a separate show even on the News Channel - makes it tricky to record, even if timings aren't precise.

    I hope so should the flame not arrive during The One Show the BBC make EastEnders wait if it's not too far away rather than cutting off before the main event.

  • Comment number 4.

    I will be presenting a special programme on BBC local radio for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Jersey and Guernsey on the evening of the 19th. Joining me will be reporters on the route through Cornwall and I will be presenting from Plymouth Hoe where a large celebration will be taking place.

    I will also be joined by some very special guests on the show, which will be broadcast from 6pm to 10pm.

    Gordon Sparks

  • Comment number 5.

    It appears anyone except those who've done the hard slog for BBC Sport over the years will get to present the key moments in the torch relay. Chris Eakin is hosting the Athens handover ceremony (if BBC News must do it at least use a flagship newsreader!), then it's the One Show covering the arrival in the UK.

    I know this event is as much news as it is sport, especially from a regional perspective, but really the flagship Olympic presenters should be fronting the flagship events along the way. Also a shame that the opening of the Olympic Stadium went by practically unnoticed at the weekend.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Brekkie: it's Team BBC! The Torch Relay in particular is involving people from News, Sport, Nations & Regions - and The One Show will be presenting the whole hour next Friday live from Culdrose. You may be pleased to know that John Inverdale is presenting two of the Torch specials for English Regions.

    On the stadium opening: we did discuss televising this with the organisers, but having seen it - I'm pleased we didn't put it into a network slot.

  • Comment number 7.

    LOL - have to say having seen some Youtube clips over the weekend I kind of reach the same conclusion.

    I guess you'll confirm it closer to the day itself but during the Opening Ceremony will one of the red button streams track the torch as it makes it's way to the stadium?

    I (obviously) don't know what LOCOG plan to do but it always amazes me that during Opening Ceremonies they don't make a bit more of the torch making it's way to the stadium in between performances. I know they did that in Atlanta - and even if it is just to provide short windows for commercial broadcasters to take a break, I'd have thought it was worth doing - and also a way to show off the city a bit more. Melbourne also did it for the Commonwealth Games with the brilliant floating baton relay on the river.

  • Comment number 8.

    Brekkie - ease off Chris Eakin. He's an excellent presenter, and based on his Twitter feed will be involved with sailing coverage next year (for which he's written an excellent book).

    Plus he's does a good job on the BBC Ten O'Clock News Hour when the 'Ceremonies Commentator' goes home.

  • Comment number 9.

    Talking of ceremonies commentator - you know my views on Huw but Trevor Nelson too. Why oh why oh why?

    Huw is a great newsreader, Trevor is a great DJ - but neither are particularly required for ceremonies.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Brekkie in #9: there will be a commentary-free option available...

  • Comment number 11.

    Roger any chance the online schedule will be updated soon? The football draw was nearly a month ago and its still showing as First game Group A


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