Coe vs Ovett - the movie

Posted in Through the Lens by Matt Ward on Tue 16 Feb '10


Coe and Ovett in a frosty Moscow, 1980

Arguably two of the greatest middle distance runners in history, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett are subject of a new BBC film that depicts their bitter rivalry that gripped Britain in the late 70’s and early 80’s…

Between 1979 and 1981 the two 800 > 1 mile specialists destroyed record after record as they blazed a trail around the world’s track and field arenas, dazzling crowds and ensuring prime-time TV slots for their record attempts. Indeed in 1981 Ovett ensured that the BBC Nine O’Clock news started late as he broke the mile record in Koblenz.


Moscow 800m - Ovett 1 Coe 0

So, almost 20 years on it seems apt that this epic story of sporting rivalry is retold in film:

The BBC is working with AL Films, whose producers were behind the BBC1 hit Small Island, to develop the movie, which is expected to be released before the 2012 Games. Los Angeles-based British writer William Davies, who worked on hits such as Johnny English, Twins and Flushed Away, will write the screenplay.

The movie is to be based on the classic book of the pair’s rivalry, Pat Butcher’s The Perfect Distance.


Moscow 1500m - 1-1

The release date of the film is expected to be 2012…

Reactions so far
  1. Sisyphus Feb 17, 04:06 AM

    Wasn’t the “bitter” rivalry something of a media invention? I believe that away from all of the chaotic frenzy of competition, Coe and Ovett were on good terms… And didn’t they go to each other’s weddings?

  2. Matt - MST Feb 17, 04:10 AM

    Agree, as with most rivalries these days, media hype. Though if you read both Coe and Ovett’s biographies these was absolutely no love lost when they stepped onto the track…

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