Paralympics was Channel 4's "finest hour" claims first chief executive

Tuesday, 27 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Superhumans C4 advertNovember 27 - Broadcasting the London 2012 Paralympics was Channel 4's "finest hour", the station's first chief executive Jeremy Issacs has claimed. 

The Channel surprised most experts when they outmaneuvered the BBC to win the right to show the Games in Britain by paying London 2012 £5 million ($7.9 million/€6 million).

The event consistently broke Channel 4 records, including the 11.2 million who watched the Paralympics Opening Ceremony, its highest viewing figures for 10 years. 

It maintained a strong audience share across its coverage of the Games, including attracting audience of 4.5 million viewers when Brazil's Alan Oliveira beat South Africa's Oscar Pistorius to gold in the T44 200 metres final.

Even that was eclipsed when 6.3 million tuned into watch Britain's Jonnie Peacock win the 100m in the T44.

Channel 4 Opening Ceremony graphicMore than 11 million people watched the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony on Channel 4

The sucess of the Games was the crowning glory of Channel 4's 30th anniversary, which was celebrated at a special party at its headquarters in London. 

In a speech Issacs compared Channel 4's coverage and commitment to the Paralympics to the broadcast of Walter, a drama starring Sir Ian McKellen as an adult with learning difficulties, at 9pm on the first day of Channel 4 in 1982.

"As soon as I read that they were going to do it [the Paralympics] I thought of Sir Ian McKellen and Walter on our opening night which some people also thought was a daring and not necessarily very pleasant thing to do but my god it was the right thing to do," said Issacs. 

"To determine to cover the Paralympics required vision and courage that is rare.

"To deliver the event so fully and effectively shows skills in planning and execution of a high order.

"The Paralympics will surely be remembered as a positive highlight of the Channel's history - perhaps Channel 4's finest hour."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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