BBC Radio 5 live will be offering the perfect tonic to another disappointing summer for English football fans with a week of special programming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup win.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since England lifted the most famous prize in World football. We’ve seen some great players come and go in that time but none of them have been able to achieve what Sir Alf Ramsay and his team did that night at Wembley. So, after five decades of hurt for England fans, the day will be a great opportunity to sit back and reflect on the moment when England were kings of the footballing world.” – Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio 5 live, Richard Maddock
The station’s coverage of the anniversary of English football’s greatest achievement includes a new documentary called 66: We Were There presented by Sir Tom Courtenay. The documentary will give audiences the chance to relive the final through the experiences of the fans who made their way to Wembley that day.
There will also be a special 1966 edition of the popular panel show Fighting Talk presented by comedian Josh Widdicombe. The centrepiece to the week will be a live simulcast with BBC Radio 2 of World Cup ’66 – Live, a once in a lifetime event happening from the SSE Arena at Wembley on Saturday 30th July. This live show will embrace the football, fashion and music of the time in a joyous celebration of that iconic match when England were crowned as the greatest team in the world.
Highlights from the week leading up to the 50th anniversary include:
• Saturday 23 July 7-8pm – 66: We Were There
The week begins with a brand new documentary that will give audiences the opportunity to relive the 1966 World Cup final through the eyes of the people who made their way to Wembley that day. Presented by Sir Tom Courtenay we’ll hear about the excitement and sense of anticipation that surrounded the ground and filled the stands from those lucky fans who managed to get their hands on a ticket, find out what it was like to lead the day’s celebrations in the Royal Marine band that performed before kick-off and hear about the young ball boy who ended up with a better view of the match than the legendary England manager Sir Alf Ramsay. This will be your chance to experience the anticipation, tension and ultimately joy behind England’s greatest footballing achievement.
• Wednesday 27 July 7.30-9.30pm – That Was Then, This Is Now
The day before the 1966 World Cup final the England team paid a visit to their local cinema to unwind. There was no blacked out cars, no security guards and no special screening because they were footballers. Only days before Jack Charlton had committed what looked like an obvious handball in the semi-final but remained free to play in the final without the fear of retrospective punishment. It was a different time.
In this documentary the former BBC Chief Football Correspondent Mike Ingham is joined by the Daily Mail sport writer Jeff Powell and former England International Jimmy Armfield to look back at a time when England reached the pinnacle of world football and discuss how the sport and the culture around it has changed over the last half a century. This is the 66 story as it’s never been told before.
Attention then turns to the day of the 50th anniversary as BBC Radio 5 live embraces all things 1966 with a special day of progamming to celebrate the anniversary of England reaching the pinnacle of world football.
Highlights from the Saturday include:
• 9 – 11am – The Danny Baker Show
Danny Baker offers up a selection of surprising phone-in subjects inspired by the ’66 Final and the chance to hear what the German TV commentator said about Sir Geoff Hurst’s controversial second goal.
• 11-12am – Fighting Talk: 1966
Josh Widdicombe takes you back to 1966 for a special edition of Fighting Talk. Fifty years on our guests reflect on all the action that surrounded the World Cup final between England and Germany. Points are awarded for passion and punditry as they each strive to be crowned FT champion.
Joining Josh, legendary sports commentator Barry Davies, former Arsenal footballer and Wales manager Bobby Gould, journalist and broadcaster Martin Kelner and comedian Bob Mills.
• 2.50-5.30pm – World Cup ’66 – Live
This showpiece event sees BBC Radio 5 live join up with BBC Radio 2 for a special simulcast live from the SSE Arena at Wembley. Presented by BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine and BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin this remarkable performance combines drama, music, history and sport to create in a once in a lifetime, epic stage show retelling the story of the historic day England fans will never forget.
Appearances include Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Bobby Charlton and Martin Freeman playing Bobby Moore. The biggest songs from ‘66 are performed live by the best of today’s artists, alongside the legends who sang them originally. You’ll hear some of the most famous hits of the era from the The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Kinks sung by a mix of contemporary and established artists including Reef, Lamar, The Shires, Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Chris Farlowe, Squeeze, Shaun Escoffery, and The Troggs. This spectacular event will deliver the story of those who were involved in a way it’s never been told before.
• 5.30-7pm – 1966–06
BBC Radio 5 live then opens up the phone lines for a one off 1966 edition of the 606 football phone giving listeners a chance to react to the day’s events and share their memories of the 1966 World Cup Final.