Matt Smith, left, and Sam Hoare star in the BBC telemovie Going for Gold (UK title Bert & Dickie).
Matt Smith, left, and Sam Hoare star in the BBC telemovie Going for Gold (UK title Bert & Dickie). Contributed - Laurence Cendrowicz, UKTV publicity

Sam Hoare 'going for gold' in telemovie

THE mind-boggling budget of this month's London Olympic Games is a far cry from the "austerity Games" hosted by the country in 1948.

With the country and its athletes still on rations following the Second World War, it was an event that stretched the treasury to its limits but rewarded the country in tourism revenue.

More expensive sports were replaced with poetry and etching, and mothers and wives sewed uniforms the government could not afford to provide.

This is the backdrop of the BBC telemovie Going for Gold, which follows Olympic rowers Bert Bushnell and Richard "Dickie" Burnell.

Thrown together as double sculling partners six weeks before the games, the pair had to overcome class differences to win gold.

Actor Sam Hoare plays Dickie opposite Doctor Who star Matt Smith.

He said the pair went through their own baptism of fire learning how to row.

"We loved it, but I'm sure any professional rower will tell you five days to turn a complete amateur into an Olympic rower is probably not quite enough," Hoare said.

"A tremendous amount of technique and balance was required as we soon found out. We fell out in our first day in the two-boat."

The story of the rowers' triumph over adversity parallels the greater struggle of 1940s Britain to recover from the war.

"That was definitely part of what attracted me to the story," Hoare said.

"It's an interesting premise that this country desperately trying to recover from war should decide to go ahead with staging an Olympics.

"They get around the obstacles of not having any money. That communal hardship is what creates that spirit of togetherness, which the Olympics is all about."

The telemovie highlights the rowers' complicated relationships with their fathers, both accomplished athletes.

"These men from very different backgrounds and different personalities both have difficulty living up to their fathers' expectations," Hoare said.

"Their fathers are not stereotypical harsh, driving fathers but they do have high expectations and put pressure on their sons.

"But it's sort of born out of love, and what hopefully makes the ending to the film work is that you want to see both these father-son relationships work out."


Going for Gold - UKTV -  Thursday July 26 at 9pm

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