In the hot seat with Dave Gordon


Dave Gordon
Dave Gordon

Andrew Hubbard speaks to Dave Gordon, Head of Major Events for BBC Sport and the man who delivered the London 2012 Olympics to the world.

What was your involvement with the BBC’s coverage of the olympics and what is next for you?

My involvement started back in 2003/04 at a time when London was pulling its bid together. I have been head of major events since 2001 and London was the 10th summer Olympics I have worked on. I was charged with leading the teams. I have been at the BBC for 40 years and, following the success of the Games coverage, I will be leaving the corporation in January. I am on the lookout for new and exciting projects to work on.

How would you say the successful coverage of London 2012 was achieved?

With an awful lot of hard work. There were two elements to the success really. Firstly, absolutely meticulous planning, and secondly, ensuring we had a team with a ‘can-do’ approach. There are always challenges but these were people that weren’t going to melt down when a problem occurred; they pulled together to help us deliver.

What were the biggest challenges for the team, and how were these dealt with?

It was a project with no flexibility on dates, and quite distinctive in that sense. We had a big idea – to offer the nation every session of every sport every day. We were worried about the technology; was it going to come on and deliver? In this respect you really had to trust in the team. To combat the challenges we did a lot of work de-risking and ensured we used the right external partners.

How would you say this has raised the bar of sporting coverage, both for the BBC and for other broadcasters around the world?

The feedback we have had has been wonderful. It has raised the bar on sports coverage; we reached for the sky in London and now have a new baseline. Our audience will be disappointed if we don’t match that in future. We now have to find the funding to deliver on that sort of scale again, which will be a challenge.

What does the coverage mean for the BBC?

It did wonders for the corporation’s approval ratings. We did well by the event and our audience. I read a report that said that 96% of viewers believed the BBC’s coverage of London 2012 had met or exceeded their expectations. This is simply fantastic for us, but we are always looking to beat it and that is the challenge going forward.

What are the lessons learned and how will the BBC embrace them for future success?

We hope people remember the coverage for what it achieved. Now we need to use this technology and project approach for more events in the future. We need to investigate if we can offer continuous multi-faceted coverage of big events like Glastonbury or the elections for example. It has been a game changer for the BBC, simple as that.

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