BT Sport Films is such an exciting venture for me because it gives me a chance to tell the kind of sports stories that I've always been fascinated by.

I think any of us who have grown up playing and watching sport have always been drawn to the characters and emotion as much as the events themselves.

I'm very grateful to everyone at BT Sport for backing this project and together I hope we can create a documentary strand that becomes compelling viewing for our audience.

The aim is to produce insightful, thoughtful, beautiful films that offer a unique window into the world of sport at all levels. The breadth and diversity of the subjects is vitally important to us and I believe our first batch of documentaries demonstrate just that. From Olympic heroes to journeymen boxers, the Premier League to the Northern Counties East football league.


UFC: The Story So Far - First broadcast Saturday August 3, 2013

Our first film takes us to the bright lights of Las Vegas. If you haven't heard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship then you soon will.

Twenty years ago the UFC was little more than a gimmick. Today it is the biggest sporting franchise on the planet. Bigger than the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees and even Manchester United.

Being a boxing fan I was a little sceptical but can honestly say I was completely won over, as much by the people as the sport itself. Of course the UFC is hugely entertaining, vibrant, dynamic and, despite what the scaremongers might tell you, comparatively safe when put against other contact sports.

But the fighters themselves had such emotive stories to tell. Each had been on a journey of self discovery and this had given them an awareness and openness that made for captivating interviews.

Look out for Mark Munoz talking about spirituality and Cub Swanson on how mixed martial arts saved his life. If you've never seen UFC before or if you're a seasoned supporter I believe UFC: The Story So Far will change your perceptions about the sport.


Silver Lining - Tuesday August 6, 2013

If you watched the Olympics last summer, and frankly who didn't, you will remember a pretty blonde judo player by the name of Gemma Gibbons winning a silver medal in dramatic circumstances.

As the scale of her achievement sank in she looked to the heavens and mouthed the words "I love you mum".

Little had been known about Gemma before the games, after all she was ranked only 42nd in the world. But the memory of her mother Jeanette, who tragically died of leukaemia when Gemma was just seventeen, proved to be her inspiration. Her partner Euan Burton had been one of the favourites for a medal but was eliminated less than two minutes into his first contest.

Silver Lining tells the story of a sporting relationship and how two driven individuals supported each other through the most testing, emotionally draining 48 hours of their lives.

Gemma had never spoken at length about her mothers passing, not even to close friends. Conducting the interviews with Gemma and her childhood coach Mick Murphy was a real honour and I'm privileged that they felt able to open up to me about subjects that were very raw.

I really feel an emotional attachment to this film. Partly because it's a story with real depth and authenticity but also because Gemma and Euan are such lovely warm people and allowed us into their lives. I won't spoil the surprise but it does have a happy ending!


Football Outposts - Sunday August 11, 8pm, BT Sport 1

Football Outposts is a very different film which sees author and all round good guy Tom Watt embarking on a journey to some of the far flung, little known clubs on the football map.

Tom and I had talked about growing up listening to the football results with James Alexander Gordon. All the names that become embedded in your subconscious and yet you have no idea where they are or what league they're in. What interested us as much if not more than that was the kind of people who support these clubs. Tom and I both follow lower league teams ourselves - I'm a Portsmouth fan and Tom watches the Arsenal (!).

Anyone who has supported a football club all their life, and particularly those at the lower end of the ladder, will know that it's never really about the football. We all want our team to win but what draws 600 people to Arbroath every other Saturday isn't success on the pitch. That, I'm afraid, is something of a rarity.

What it does give you is an identity and a sense of belonging. In some of these areas - and in tough economic and social times - that is so important. We travelled from the east coast of Scotland, down through Carlisle, Accrington Stanley, Scarborough and into a twilight zone of clubs struggling to survive or getting back on their feet after a mighty fall. What we found was a connection between football club and supporter that perhaps no longer exists at the top level. And we had some fun too.

 

Winning Ugly - Tuesday September 3, 8pm, BT Sport 1

Remember the old days when rugby was all about fat boy forwards and cricketers drank half a bottle of claret during lunch? That was the dubious premise behind Winning ugly.

However this was not simply a nostalgic meander down memory lane and a wistful glance back to a time when amateurism was celebrated by sportsmen and women up and down the land.

Well OK there was a bit of that, but we also wanted to chart the evolution of modern day sport in all its technicolor glory. Because it wasn't always like this you know, and if you remain in any doubt then former hardmen Terry Hurlock and Mick Hatford will be round to put you right in no uncertain terms.

Those two, gentlemen I must say, are among our interviewees along with Rory Underwood, Sam Allardyce, Tony Adams, Roberto Martinez, Michael Vaughan and many others.

To front this film we picked a man who straddled - and I feel uncomfortable using that word in such a context - both the amateur and professional eras.  Former England hooker Brian Moore is a very bright man indeed, a practising barrister, and was able to bring a humour and intelligence to this subject.

It's a very light hearted look back to the "good old days" of sport and the key moments in the transformation into what we see today. Dear old Brian does hear a few home truths along the way as former fitness coach Tom McNabb nails him with the inspired, "You did for fitness what Quasimodo did for coat hangers". There could be no riposte.

 

Keeping up with the Brownlees - Tuesday September 17, 8pm, BT Sport 1

Sometimes thinking of a title for a film can almost be the hardest part of thr production. However, Keeping up with the Brownlees just seemed to suggest itself.

For the producer, Sally Brown, this was exactly what it felt like. And she was usually left trailing in their wake. "What is the schedule for Alistair and Jonny tomorrow? More training? Wonderful."

Of course this is how the elite live but what comes across is their drive and hunger. Come rain or shine, and my goodness it's more rain than shine on the Yorkshire moors, they train with a zeal born of intense competitive spirit.

What this documentary does wonderfully well is to explore the dynamic between the two brothers. Together they dominate one of the most demanding and gruelling sports but what interested us was how they cope with the sibling rivalry and whether a hierarchy exists, even on a subconscious level.

We were allowed exclusive access to their training routines, home life, social circle, family and friends plus there's contributions from former elite athletes David Moorcroft, Mark Foster and Chris Boardman who give us a perspective on the different triathlon disciplines.


Cornered

I've always had a keen interest in applied psychology and this led me to the Peacock Gym in east London some 18 months ago to meet journeyman boxer Johnny Greaves.

Johnny is one of the real characters of the fight game and at the time had lost around 79 of his 82 professional contests. This element of the story alone was worth telling - the role of guys like Johnny who accept fights at short notice against up and coming fighters.

These are tough, battle hardened men performing a crucial role in the development of promising boxers and giving promoters an insurance should there be any late withdrawals. But what intrigued me more than that was the mental processes that individuals go through when choosing professions and lifestyles which to the ordinary man seem so brutal and challenging.

Initially Johnny assured me that the lure of what he perceived as "easy money" was the driver behind his actions but as we became closer over the following weeks and months it became apparent that there was a much darker motivation.

Cornered is as dramatic and shocking as it is tragic but it has given me a lesson in human behaviour and I think we have produced a very moving film which reflects that.


O Arise All Ye Sons

O Arise All Ye Sons is still in production so I won't say too much about that other than it focuses on the power of sport to unite in one of the most remote places on earth. Now there's a thinker!

I think all of these documentaries offer a different narrative and appeal to a different demographic. What binds them is the storytelling, underpinned by our ethos to create a strand of programme making unique to sports broadcasting in the UK.

I hope you enjoy!

Adam Darke
Executive Producer, BT Sport Films


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