North West 200 – BBC 4

BBC 4 TV next Monday night at 22.00. 


The history of the North West 200 motorcycle race from its beginnings in the 1920s to the present day. A wealth of archive pictures and film tell the story, and individual race stories of the North West are set in the social history of the time.


A new documentary from BBC NI produced by Waldovision Ltd looks back nearly 100 years at the history of what is now the biggest single outdoor sporting event in Ireland, The North West 200. The race event which now attracts over 150,000 spectators began on Saturday, April 20, 1929 when this new and ambitious venture was set up by The Derry and District Motor Club.

How The North West Was Won is on Monday, 28th Oct, on BBC 4 at 10.00pm and covers the race from its inception to the major international event it is today and contains never seen before archive footage and interviews with some of the biggest names in motorsport. Murray Walker OBE whose father won the NW200 in the 1930’s talks about the sport as it was then; “We should never lose sight of the fact that although motorcycle racing is hazardous now it was infinitely more hazardous then. They not only had to be very good riders but they had to be very brave riders as well.”

The documentary also covers some of the action off the track, particularly footage and archive pictures of the Miss NW200 competition and the wonderful social life that the race week is famous for.

There are new and archive interview’s with riders, fans and officials of the event throughout the programme including the winner of the first race in 1929, Billy McCracken and some of the famous personalities associated with the event including legendary TT winner John McGuinness, 11 times winner Philip McCallen, Paul Robinson (son of Mervyn who was tragically killed at the NW200 in 1980) who after years of trying, secured his first win in 2010 and the renowned Sammy Miller MBE who beat the great Mike Hailwood in 1958. There are also interviews with Tommy Robb, Ralph Bryans, Joey and Robert Dunlop, Keith Huewen, William and Michael Dunlop, Jimmy Walker and Carl Fogarty. The programme also pays tribute to Robert Dunlop who holds the record for the most NW200 wins.

How The North West Was Won also looks at difficulties which the Troubles in Northern Ireland caused Race organisers including the race being cancelled all together in 1972 and how some of the biggest riders around were frightened of coming over to Northern ireland for the event. Keith Huewen, Former NW winner, “We used to read in the paper about the Trouble’s in Northern Ireland. All the time we only ever saw bad stuff coming out of Northern Ireland and to be honest we went there with a lot of trepidation but of course when we went there we had an absolutely brilliant time.”

Co-Producer Colin James says; “I greatly enjoyed making this programme, particularly the amazing stories we discovered about the history of this famous race”. Co-producer Anna Masefield adds; “We hope the viewer enjoys the programme as much as we did making it and feel there is something in it for everyone.”

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