Series 13 - 1. Full Throttle: The Glory Days of British Motorbikes

Radio Times
Review by:
Gary Rose

Just like its subject matter, this history of British motorcycling revs along at quite a pace. Talking heads and archive film reveal how proto-biker Lawrence of Arabia's high-velocity demise in 1935 led to the compulsory use of helmets, and how pre-war TT racing brought about improved reliability.

It's rock 'n' roll's integration with bike culture during the 50s and 60s, however, that provides the best moments. Erstwhile scary bikers, café racers and "ton-up boys" tell how their exploits, fuelled by caffeine and inspired by Marlon Brando in The Wild One, shocked the elder generation. "It weren't just about being yobs and having fights. I mean... we was and we did" reveals one reformed rocker.

About this programme

1/7. Documentary exploring the history and culture of motorcycling in Britain - from army officer TE Lawrence's passion for the vehicles in the 1920s, to the key role they played in the Second World War, and the perceived `golden age' of the 1950s - when the lifestyle associated with motorcyclists began to attract social disapproval and conflict. Narrated by John Hannah.

Cast and crew


John Hannah


Andy Hall
Andy Hall
Series Producer
William Naylor