Ovett and Coe Film Up And Running

The British are coming... by 2012

BBC Films will stoke London 2012 fever by making a film about the infamous rivalry between middle-distance runners Sebastian Coe (skinny, ran fast over long distances) and Steve Ovett (skinny, ran fast, looked a bit like Chris Martin) set during their '70s and '80s heyday.

The as-yet untitled film will be released in 2012 to tie in with the London games - which, of course, Coe (or The Lord Coe, to you and us) was instrumental in winning and planning.

The rivalry between Coe and Ovett - at times fierce, at others cordial - began with a school cross-country race in 1972 and came to a head at the Moscow Games in 1980. It's a great sporting spat that could be pitched somewhere between The Damned United and Chariots Of Fire on the scale of cinematic rivalries.

While no director is on board as yet, sports-loving writer William Davies (Johnny English, Twins) will write the script. He'll adapt sportwriter Pat Butcher's account of the rivalry, The Perfect Distance, which sounds like it might make an ideal title for the movie too.

The Beeb is developing the project with AL Films, for whom Joanna Anderson and Vicky Licorish will produce. “You were either an Ovett person or a Coe person” says Licorish. “That’s what makes it such a great character piece as well.”

So should Michael Sheen start dusting off his runners to play a latter-era Coe? Who would you pick to play the athletics greats?