Record Breakers is another BBC childrens TV show like Blue Peter, that tries to be a little more intelligent than most children’s shows, and that ran for years and years (although it fell far short of Blue Peter). Â It started airing in 1972, and came to a close in 2001, so it was on our screens for nearly 30 years!
The name that is most associated with Record Breakers is Roy Castle, who was the host of the show from the beginning until 1994 when he sadly died of lung cancer, which as a non smoker he attributed to years of playing the trumpet in smokey jazz clubs. Â Roy was a variety artist through and through and was an accomplished trumpet player and tap dancer, though he could turn his hand to just about anything entertainment related.
The show was co-hosted by twins Norris McWhirter and Ross McWhirter. Â I must say I never remembered Ross, he was a bit before my time, but I certainly remember Norris. Â Both brothers were editors of The Guinness Book of Records for many years, and both had photographic memories. Â There was a segment on the show where kids could ask the brothers questions about world records, and they could always answer them! Â I remember one time a boy in the audience called Norris out on a question about the biggest diamond (I think). Â Turns out the little upstart was wrong and Norris was correct!
Norris and Ross are both sadly no longer with us, but it is amazing how they found the time to do so many things with their lives. Â As well as editing the Guinnes Book of Records they were atheletes, sports journalists, political activisits, and of course TV presenters! Â Norris died aged 78 after a heart attack whilst Ross was shot in 1975, aged 50, by two members of the IRA, after Ross put up a reward for information about several bombings that had occured.
Anyway, back to Record Breakers itself, which if you haven’t guessed by now was a celebration of any kind of world record. Â Each show would tell you all about a particular record, who held it, what they had to do and so on. Â Quite often there would even be a record breaking attempt on the show itself, which was always very exciting to watch. Â Roy himself set several records himself on the show, including that of fastest tap dancer, most people tap dancing at one time and rather more strangely, playing the same tune on 43 different musical instruments in just 4 minutes.
During the 1980’s Roy was assisted in his presenting duties by first Fiona Kennedy, who I personally found a little boring, she seemed to serious, and then Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz fame, who was perhaps a little too madcap at times, but was preferable to Kennedy! Â Other presenters were the annoying Kriss Akabusi (why does he have to laugh so much) and fellow athlete Linford Christie, and apparently Fearne Cotton has had a stab at presenting it too. For a few years there was also a segment about American record attempts that was presented by Ronald Reagan Jr. Yep, that’s right, the son of former US president and actor Ronald Reagan.
Like many memorable kids shows Record Breakers was also gifted with some memorable theme music. Â Both the opening and closing theme were sung by Roy Castle (aided by other presenters as they came and went) with the closing theme in particular being very memorable. Â This was the song “Dedication” which Roy sang and played on the trumpet at the end of every show. Â Surely everyone must remember the lyrics!
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Â Dedications what you need.
Dedications what you need.
If you wanna be a record breaker. Â Record Breaker ooooooh!
Great stuff, but Roy did it far better than I ever could. Â Wish I could have found a video clip of him singing this song, but there seems to be a distinct lack of footage on the Interwebby. Â Instead, here’s Roy breaking a parasailing record flying under bridges on the Thames!
UPDATE! There’s been some discussion in the comments about the “most number of people tap dancing at a time” record that was organised by the programme. Several of you took part in this, and I can now add an image of the record taking place courtesy of Joanne. Thanks Joanne! You can click on the image to view it at full size.