The Weekend Documentary: Skateboarding Is 60

Sunday 22 July



Rodney Mullen, inventor. Stacy Peralta, movie director. Mimi Knoop, entrepreneur. Neftalie Williams, academic. Iain Borden, Professor of architecture. Cindy Whitehead, business woman. Mat Lloyd, poet… What do they have in common? They’re skateboarders.

Sixty years ago, a man wandered into a surf shop on the beach in Southern California with a homemade wooden board, with four roller-skate wheels attached. An insignificant beginning for a culture that would eventually influence communities all around the world. You might see the skateboard as just a toy, but in 60 years, the people who skate have created a culture that has had a profound influence across business, art, architecture, education and gender equality.

Now, in this programme, skaters from around the world tell the BBC World Service the global story of skateboarding.

You’ll find skaters everywhere, from California to Kabul, Madagascar to Melbourne. Skating back alleys, under highways, in skateparks, in drained pools. In the 1970s American teens became celebrity skate icons, while in Norway anyone with a board was a criminal. Then, unexpectedly, in the 80s and 90s, professional skaters carved out new territory with their own multi-million dollar businesses. Skating became profitable, and possibly respectable. And now, skateboarding is set for the Olympic park in Tokyo in 2020, controversial for some.

It’s been one heck of a ride. After years of never really belonging to the mainstream, turn on and tune in your radios: skateboarding is 60.

  • Editor: Kirsten Lass
  • Presented and produced by Clare Salisbury