Roger Bannister four minute mile drama from Andrew Davies heading to BBC

Prolific scriptwriter once dubbed TV's Mr Sex, is writing a serial about the athlete and scholar's incredible 1954 run

Scriptwriter Andrew Davies is working on a BBC drama about Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile record run, can reveal.


The writer says that the drama is likely to be in two or three parts and will chart the extraordinary story of Bannister’s world record run in 1954.

The drama is due to be made for the BBC by Downton Abbey independent producers Carnival Film and Television and has not yet been cast. It is not yet clear what channel it will air on, though it is likely to be BBC2. The Corporation stressed that the project was just in development and had not yet been formally green lit.

If it does get the go-ahead it is expected to focus on the months leading up to the record, with Bannister determined to run the mile in under four minutes after his disappointing performance in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

This spurred him to the record which he eventually broke on May 6 1954 at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, with a run of 3 min 59.4 sec.

Bannister’s record only lasted 46 days but was extraordinary mainly because he reached it with so little training and while he was practising as a junior doctor.

However the athlete, who went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993, said he was more proud of his medical work than his record run.

In his interview with, Davies added that he is quite relieved that he is no longer called “TV’s Mr Sex”  – a moniker he earned after his raunchy adaptations of small screen classics like Pride and Prejudice and Fanny Hill. “That seems to have died away – thank God,” he said.

Davies’ next work is A Poet in New York, a BBC2 film about poet Dylan Thomas’ last days alive which is due to air on BBC2 Wales in April and in the rest of the UK in May.

Tom Hollander plays the poet in the film.

Davies is also finishing off an epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s Russian epic War and Peace for BBC1. The six-part adaptation is due to begin filming in August for broadcast next year, said Davies.