1 9 7 2 – 2 0 0 1 (UK)
116 x 25 minute episodes
Record Breakers was a juvenile TV version of the Guinness Book of Records, whose founders, Norris and Ross McWhirter, appeared in the early episodes. The former athletes were always identical in blazers and flannels.
Most of the record-breaking antics took place in the studio, under the watchful and always enthusiastic eye of host Roy Castle – himself the holder of tap dancing and parascending records, and singer of the You Need Dedication theme song.
Castle hosted the show for over 20 years until his death from lung cancer in 1994.
He was succeeded by presenters including British athletes Kriss Akabusi and Linford Christie, and Ron Reagan Jr, son of the US President, who reported on the tallest, smallest, greatest etc for a season Stateside.
Largely studio-based for the first few series, from 1974 the series annually travelled as far as California, Canada, Hawaii and Australia.
Alan Russell, who produced the show for many years, was responsible for many spectacular events including a – now-famous – mass tap dance in the courtyard of BBC Television Centre in December 1977 (pictured below).
Ross McWhirter was shot dead by IRA gunmen outside his North London home on 27 November 1975. He was hit at close range in the head and chest and taken to a local hospital but died soon after being admitted.
McWhirter had recently offered a reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers.
Norris McWhirter continued to edit the Guinness Book of Records until 1985 and presented Record Breakers until 1994. He died in April 2004.
If you’re the wildest, the mildest, the cleverest child
If you’re the strongest, the longest, you’ve never been wrong
If you’re the latest, the greatest, then you can state
That you’re a Record Breaker!
Ron Reagan Jr