V-CC Sunbeam Used in Television Documentary

by | Sep 17, 2023

It all started with an email forwarded by Adam Pride. This was from a London film production company wanting a Sunbeam bicycle for a documentary presented by Jay Blades about the industrial heritage of Birmingham and the Black Country. I am custodian of the club’s 1913 Royal Sunbeam and I agreed that I would take the bike to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium. The bike is very largely in original condition and still regularly ridden, so was suitable for their requirements. Molineux had been chosen for the filming because, or course, Sunbeams were made in Wolverhampton and before the stadium was built, Molineux Park was used for bicycle racing.

My wife, Joy, and I arrived at Molineux uncertain of the arrangements for the day. We met the film crew and were delighted to find out that we would be able to watch the filming. Jay Blades arrived a little later, and I was worried when I was told he would be riding the bike. He is 6 foot 3 inches and I am 5 foot 8 inches, and, although the bike is a little big for me, it was very small for Jay. However, I raised the saddle and fortunately Jay proved to be a very adapt rider coping admirably with the small frame. He enjoyed riding the sunbeam so much that he said he was going to buy one!

The filming took the whole morning. Jay was filmed, from a customised tricycle riding slowly in front of the Stan Cullis Stadium. A rather slight female production assistant was pedalling and behind her a rather larger man was filming because a sound recordist was walking alongside. Numerous takes were necessary because people and lorries arriving at the stadium were getting into the shot. Then Jay was filmed turning the corner and riding into the stadium. This was filmed from a conventional tripod-mounted camera. In the stadium Jay rode up and down the touchline, filming was from a normal camera and from an amazing drone. the drone was able to hover completely still, despite the blustery conditions, or to zoom along filming Jay riding at speed.

Jay Blades was as charming in the flesh as he is on television. He was happy to greet passers-by, pose for photographs and to chat to his many admirers. The Wolves Seniors Club members were holding a meeting and several of them engaged Jay in conversation and he said he would come and see them later. True to his words, after filming finished, he went to their meeting and made a presentation for them. He remarked to one of the staff in the stadium that all this fuss would probably only amount to a few seconds of the programme, hopefully it will be longer than that, but probably not that much longer. The series will be broadcast by Channel 5 next year.

Bill Ardy

First published in News & Views No 416 August/September 2023