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Hour-long film will use footage from cameras mounted on cars and bikes

The BBC has announced that it is to screen an hour-long documentary called The War On Britain’s Roads that will use cameras mounted on bicycles and cars that will examine the relationship between cyclists and motorists.

The broadcaster describes the programme as “an adrenaline-filled one-off film for BBC One,” during which “viewers will be parachuted into the middle of a war that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts in The War On Britain’s Roads.”

If that makes it sound as though the programme’s approach is that drivers and cyclists are two separate tribes – in practice, of course, most adult cyclists do hold a driving licence, and regular cyclists are more likely than average to own a car – the impression is confirmed in the rest of the press release regarding the programme.

“As more and more people take up cycling as a way of beating the traffic or just keeping fit on their commute, the potential for conflict between cyclists and drivers has increased massively,” the BBC said.

“Now cameras installed on bikes and in vehicles will use heart-stopping footage of interactions between road users to reveal a shocking picture of life on Britain’s roads. The film will follow current cases as they go through the courts and revisit the tragic stories of some of those who have lost their lives on Britain’s roads.”

The documentary has been made by Leopard Films, whose Chief Executive Officer, Todd Austin, commented: “This timely documentary highlights a growing issue on Britain’s roads, from the viewpoint of both the motorist and the cyclist. BBC One is the perfect home for this insightful and at times shocking film.”

The War On Britain’s Roads is one of four documentaries announced yesterday that will include footage shot by the subjects themselves, the others being I Want To Change My Body and We’re Having A Baby, both of which will be aired on BBC Three, and BBC Two’s Britain In A Day.

While the BBC describes The War On Britain’s Roads as a “one-off film,” an article from Broadcast Magazine republished on Leopard Films’ own website claims that the “It is regarded within the BBC as having the greatest series potential.”

Charlotte Moore, Commissioning Editor, Documentaries at the BBC, explained the idea behind the four films: “Documentary filmmakers are always trying to get inside other people’s lives – to get as close as possible to what people are seeing and feeling.

"As far back as the Video Diaries series in the 1990s, the BBC has been pioneering in giving the Great British public the chance to help shape the documentaries it produces, giving viewers a voice to tell their own stories in the most intimate and authentic way possible.

"One of the wonderful things about the explosion in the number of filming devices over the past decade is that more and more people are filming their own lives, giving filmmakers access to a wealth of quality footage shot by people in almost any situation you can think of.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

39 comments

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 4 years ago
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Anyone get the feeling that the sensationalism isn't going to help us out?

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Some Fella [890 posts] 4 years ago
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Shouldnt the BBC be spending its time and resources making decent programmes about the joys and benefits of cycling instead of cheap, lazy and sensationalist rubbish like this?

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dodgy [178 posts] 4 years ago
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Oh god, there will be some video commuters frothing at the mouth over this. I for one won't watch it unless I'm told afterwards it was balanced and helpful, then I can watch on iPlayer.

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GrahamF [15 posts] 4 years ago
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From the broadcaster's description I can only feel this 'film' is going to fan the flames rather than take an educated view. It's much the same as a bystander encouraging a playground scrap. An we pay our license fees for this?!  13

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 4 years ago
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Couldn't they have come up with a less sensationalist title for this programme? I hope it will be balanced and not a voyeuristic opportunity for viewers on whichever side of the debate to have their prejudices confirmed, but I won't hold my breath.....

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ribena [178 posts] 4 years ago
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There was a similarly balanced program back in 2008 called "Road Rage - The Battle for Britains Roads". I guess the battle has now escalated into a war?

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G-bitch [321 posts] 4 years ago
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That sounds utterly dreadful- and also like it's going to be the usual London-centric view of things.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 4 years ago
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Was going to say that I don't like the sound of this for various reasons. But others have already beaten me to it! Those reasons are above! I just simply like riding a bike. I find that the vast majority of motorists show me every consideration. People pull out in front of me and cut me up regardless of what vehicle I drive! But generally I have no problem. I would like to see a documentary about a 'war' between the idiots who think the road is their own personal race track and people who treat it with the respect that the road deserves. That way we can lump the dickheads regardless of their transport on one side and the rest of us (he says in expectation) on the other. Then let battle commence!

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OldRidgeback [2566 posts] 4 years ago
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It'll be interesting whether it points out that most adult cyclists are indeed car drivers also. The war, if it is raging, is largely coming from those ill-informed drivers who believe paying VED gives them a right to something. Those drivers are ignorant because they don't realise most cyclists pay the same VED anyway, and in my case I pay it twice as I've a motorcycle and a car as well as a fleet of bicycles. I'd be curious how many car drivers suffer injuries because of cyclists.

Perhaps the program will endeavour to introduce 'balance' by suggesting pedestrians are also threatened by cyclists, despite the exceedingly low level of accidents that actually occure. I wonder also if the program will highlight those vehicles involved in particularly high levels off accidents - such as the skippers and tippers of the HGV fraternity, mini cab drivers (stand up Addison Lee), Post Office vans and of course, the dreaded angry bloke in the BMW.

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fatbeggaronabike [800 posts] 4 years ago
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Sounds as this sensationlist rubbish will end up putting more people off cycling in the future rather than a balanced documentary giving a fair representation of the advantages of cycling, although I will watch it and then commnt afterwards (if the apoplexy allows)
A suggestion for the opening score would have to be Bowie's putting out fires with gasoline.

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 4 years ago
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I like bikes, but wait a minute...I like cars too. There's only one way to sort this out -Fight! Doh, looks like I'll be fighting myself then...

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Celeste08 [38 posts] 4 years ago
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As sad as it is, being shown current court cases and hearing about those who lost their lives on the road will probably be the best way to get people to think about their own actions on the road.

The hidden positive in this is that viewers will be made aware of the fast growing use of cameras on cycles and the reduced chance of getting away with being reckless.

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joemmo [1157 posts] 4 years ago
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re: the "why isn't the BBC making a proper documentary?" question. This is not Panorama, this is an independent production company that will be seeking to make their product as re-sellable (is that a word?) as possible so they are not interested in a real documentary, just some light entertainment in the vein of 'World's Mentalist Police Raids' that will end up on one of the freeview channels or dubbed for foreign consumption.

The BBC are just buying in some crap to sandwich between a docu-reality-drama-soap about bulimic teenage vampires and a re-run of a comedy panel show. It'll be watched by about 7 people, half of whom won't be old enough to drive and forgotten by the weekend.

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 4 years ago
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What time is the docu-reality-drama-soap about bulimic teenage vampires on?!  4

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 4 years ago
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After midnight on a small channel the BBC has a stake in  4

I'll get my coat....

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 4 years ago
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Oof!

Could have been worse - you might have said it was on BBC Von-hahaha!

(Sincere apologies to anyone with fond childhood memories of "The Count" in Sesame Street - that's his laugh above, not mine...)

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cidermart [488 posts] 4 years ago
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I love to count ha ha ha  19

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stealth [254 posts] 4 years ago
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 13 After a particularly fraut ride to work one morning, I was tempted to get in touch with the Beeb to do a show like this, tentatively called "A day in the life of an ordinary cyclist - the flip-side of Top Gear", but then I changed my mind as it won't be watched by anybody who cares or would modify their selfish, ignoant behaviour.

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stealth [254 posts] 4 years ago
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Apologies for the spelling in my last post. When is it going to be aired?

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 4 years ago
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stealth wrote:

Apologies for the spelling in my last post. When is it going to be aired?

No worries about spelling, we can all be a bit slapdash on that *cough*

But if you use the edit button underneath, you can go in and make some 'ninja edits' without anyone noticing - appropriate, given your user name...

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Eyebrox [12 posts] 4 years ago
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Don't knock the programme until it has been aired - and then we can offer a measured, considered view. Friction between cyclists and motorists is a hot topic and we should welcome any initiative that lays out the issues in front of the general public. Years ago there was so few bikers about that the BBC would never have contemplated showing this kind of programme, especially on its main, biggest-audience channel. This is an opportunity to inform, educate and even change perceptions.

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Campag_10 [153 posts] 4 years ago
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I have to agree with Eyebrox. Cycling has been such a niche activity that BBC1 would never have been interested for most of the last 50 years.

There are pillocks riding bikes and driving cars. Regardless of the balance of the programme, it will inform and entertain. Many motorists will appreciate that most cyclists are also car drivers. They will also be more aware that their on-road bullying may be captured on video and used as evidence to prosecute them. These are significant factors that may counter what Colin Pooley's report called 'power asymmetry between road users'.

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didds [42 posts] 4 years ago
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all of the above - and more. Its typical 21st century bollix programming. Sensationalist, aimed at the lowest common denominator, wooing the floating couch potato (is that an oxymoron?) with their 20 second attention grab span as they dither over this, monster truck racing, coppers-in-fast-cars-part-7914, killer sharks and nasty nazis.

And I'd wager the program will be worse than it sounds even.

Next week - death on the high seas... swimmers versus jet skis.

didds

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batch [60 posts] 4 years ago
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When I've seen it, I *may* comment. Until then, everything else is just conjecture...or saber rattling.  37

Batch.

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TiNuts [97 posts] 4 years ago
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Eyebrox wrote:

Don't knock the programme until it has been aired

I entirely agree. I wonder if any of those posters so quick to condemn in advance of the show have actually been to Leopard Films website to see what is their documentary making history. It would appear that some have an aversion just to the mention of the words "TV Documentary". I wonder what some of the great documentarists of the past would make of that, Pilger, Alastair Cooke, Attenborough, etc etc. Or the makers of the weekly Panorama series. We have yet to find out whether this will match any of those in depth of analysis etc but please, let's at least hold off the slagging/praising to the heavens (or somewhere in between) until it's been aired.

As someone who considered making just such a documentary based on my own and others YouTube clips I have to say that I'm wholeheartedly in favour that such a program has been commissioned. Many YouTube clips have shown astoundingly poor behaviour on the part of motorists. At a time when cyclist safety is at least on the radar thanks to the Sunday Times campaign, The CTC addressing the Transport Select Committee's Road Safety Enquiry and even the ignorant public comments of Addison Lee boss Griffin and Road Safety Minister Mike Penning, it's certainly a good time to increase public awareness of just what it means to be a cyclist on Britain's roads.

Personally, I'm greatly looking forward to seeing the results of the film maker's efforts.

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Paul M [355 posts] 4 years ago
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Much as I would like to agree that we should reserve judgement until we see it, the documentary's advertised titled says it all really, so I will carry on condemning it anyway.

True documentary TV is someting of a rarity these days, with most subjects trivialised or sensationalised to make them more "entertaining". The BBC sadly is not immunde to this trend.

Dumbed down Britain!

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TiNuts [97 posts] 4 years ago
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Given some of the astounding behaviour I've seen and experienced, the title really isn't that far off the mark.

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paulfrank [94 posts] 4 years ago
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I agree, this is going to pick the very worst behaviour from all sides, ie. Angry Road Nazis, BMW drivers invading the patch of tarmac around every cyclist that is clearly marked Poland, against the aggressive light and pavement jumping antics of the lunatic messenger riders who do honestly believe that nobody has more rights than them to any urban space. This will all be presented as the norm and will, depending on your initial viewpoint, put you off getting on a bike or give you permission to punish every cyclist you see on the roads.
I hope it will be somewhat more balanced than this but I fear not.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 4 years ago
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paulfrank wrote:

... ie. Angry Road Nazis, BMW drivers invading the patch of tarmac around every cyclist that is clearly marked Poland ...

Oh dear - classic Godwin's Law situation I'm afraid - thread over & you loose

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

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hairyairey [297 posts] 4 years ago
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If my experience is anything to go by sensationalist would be about right. I have been on the receiving end of a driver swinging his car into my car after dazzling me from behind (who then had a relative claim I had accelerated as he was passing me and the Police were going to charge me - why do these people never get charged?) the level of road rage out there is extraordinary.

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