TV Cream

TV: R is for...

Record Breakers, The

"Allo, something's up!""The micro-engineering suggests Blake's 7, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was Galloping Galaxies, hahaha!"LONG-RUNNING PROMOTIONAL campaign for the Guinness family and, for most of its existence, the only place you’d see 80-year-olds on children’s telly. ROY “OOPS! ANOTHER SOFT CENTRE!” CASTLE was your tapping, trumpetty host, with NORRIS (and, originally, IRA murder victim twin brother ROSS) McWHIRTER as the Book-compiling know-it-all foil. Never-changing menu: sketches, reports, McWhirter-retention testing ‘Norris on the Spot’ round (which always went: ROY: “Have you got a question for Norris?” KID: “What’s the biggest fish?” NOZZA: “Well, I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you that there’s a leopard in Africa that can run faster than a motorcycle”) and closing performance of Castle’s ‘Dedication’, replete with parping jazz tapestries of sound. Everything linked by twangy-ruler sound and pop art animated stings. Numerous obsessions included Precious MacKenzie (miniscule car-lifter), that Rhodesian bus that bent in the middle, and endless domino toppling attempts in a Japanese warehouse (Cue Roy: “The next morning the team returned to a horrific sight. All the stacking they had done the day before had collapsed due to a small earthquake in the area. Japan is noted for its frequent earth tremors…”) with waterfalls, rockets, Mona Lisa reproductions etc. Roy essayed numerous record breaking attempts of his own, including wing-walking across the English Channel (eh?), throwing himself off the top of Blackpool Tower and hoofing around Television Centre (see THE ALL-STAR RECORD BREAKERS). Show went downhill the minute assistants and sidekicks started showing up, including FIONA KENNEDY, MARK CURRY, CHERYL BAKER, KRIS AKABUSI and worse of all RON REAGAN JUNIOR, the Gipper’s very own son. Death knell sounded in 1998 when another moaning athlete took over and immediately insisted it be rebranded – for shame! – Linford’s Record Breakers.

Roy drops in to Norris and Ross's record, er, recording bijouetteNot sure what was being 'broken' here; surely Norris should have been Ollie?











  1. tomnamoon

    July 23, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Is there a relic left anywhere of that song by Roy Castle about Robert Pershing Wadlow?

  2. Glenn A

    December 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Oh there was one awful ditty Roy did about the world’s fattest man called Fat Man, sung to the tune of Batman. It was otherwise a good show, but ruined by Roy’s awful songs.

  3. Richard Davies

    December 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    When I went to the London Guinness World Record Museum in 1986 there was a display about Robert Pershing Wadlow, with a looped song about him.

    I can’t remember if it was Roy Castle’s one or not.

  4. andy s

    June 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    “Norris, which one of your mates at the Freedom Foundation is the biggest nutter?”

  5. fuz

    August 11, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project meant the seven segment flippy display and an in-studio attempt

  6. Tom Ronson

    March 31, 2022 at 2:59 am

    I met Roy Castle at a garden fete circa 1981 when he was at the peak of his Record Breakers fame. I was seven years old and suitably impressed by the dazzling star in my midst. I approached him for his autograph, and yes, he crouched down to speak to me.

    He said ‘Son, you can stick that pen up your arse and play Swanee River.’

    Roy Castle? Roy GHASTLY more like.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    May 21, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    @ Tom Ronson, Castle came across as a bit false and too goody goody for me, and I can remember him drifting into radio comedy in the early eighties with the underwhelming Castle’s On The Air. Record Breakers was quite a good show regardless and Norris Mc Whirter’s knowledge of facts always amazed me when I was about ten years old. Also liked the American feature with Ronald Reagan Junior.

  8. THX 1139

    May 21, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    Hope you’re joking, Tom, Roy had a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the business.

    The segment I always remember is the cow chip tossing, where rural Americans competed to see who could throw dry cowpats the furthest. I don’t know if they still do this, but I hope they washed their hands afterwards. Can’t be much to do there.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    May 21, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    It’s regrettable Roy Castle would say that, but you can’t knock what a great show Record Breakers was and the Christmas specials were fantastic. The cow chip tossing competition sounds bizarre.

  10. Richardpd

    May 21, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    I remember plenty of new records being set in the studio, sometimes quite bizarre ones. One was rapper Daddy Freddy setting the record for the most syllables in one minute.

  11. Droogie

    May 22, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    I recall Victor Lewis-Smith recount meeting Roy Castle at a BBC function and describe Roy as being a drunk mean-spirited person. Saying that, Victor Lewis Smith is a bit of a sociopath, so wouldn’t take his account too seriously.

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