Ovett versus Coe script complete
Back in February 2010 we heard that William Davies was writing a script based on the novel by Pat Butcher called The Perfect Distance: Ovett and Coe: The Record Breaking Rivalry which documented the rivalry between the two runners.
Now two years later an audio clip from BBC Radio 5 reveals that there's a new writer on the script and the idea is still going strong.
Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe presided over the golden era of British athletics. Between them they won three Olympic gold medals, two silvers, one bronze, and broke a total of twelve middle-distance records. As far apart as possible in terms of class and upbringing, their rivalry burned as intense on the track as away from it. The pendulum swung between the pair of them-each breaking the other's records, and, memorably, triumphing in each other's events in Moscow in 1980. The Perfect Distance is both a detailed re-creation and a fitting celebration of the greatest era of British athletics.
As I wrote before the two runners were great rivals and there are some great facts about them such as in a period of ten days the two swapped the world record for the mile between them some three times or that Sebastian Coeheld the world records for the 800 metre, 1500 metre and the mile at the same time with Steve Ovett becoming the mile world record holder at the same time as the 1500 metre.
During the 1980 Olympics both Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe had their favoured distances, but they traded wins between them during the events, Ovett beating Coe at his favoured event and then Coe beating Ovett at his. This seems to be the time period that the film will close on according to the audio clip and the new writer.
"They were fantastically different athletes and different people. And they rarely met... apart from on the track - but not very often, even on the track...
...Before Moscow they'd only raced against each other twice, and once was in a schools' Cross Country event...
...They deliberately kept as far apart from each other as they could, even though they were running [t]he same event."
He also revealed that although Coe was eager to give an interview, as he always was, and was media conscious Ovett was almost the opposite and even refused to be interviewed to assist in the writing of the screenplay.
Beaufoy also talked about the problems of adapting real life stories to film especially when the people involved are still alive but he acknowledged the problem that things have to be moved a little in order to get the drama of the story to the audience.
It seems particularly tricky to do in this case considering that the two athletes hardly ever met face to face.
The article says that the film will either be titled Second is Nowhere or The Perfect Distance but there is no word on director or casting as yet.
Simon Beaufoy has previously written Slumdog Millionaire (Filmstalker review), 127 Hours (Filmstalker review) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, he has the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire script under his belt as well. Those are promising scripts but the question is whether this will get a big production or whether it will be a much smaller British film. Will the story break out of a British only audience?