The BBC told Rider they could see the value in RPM’s offer to search its archives, but that, in Rider’s words, “the contractual implications are simply insurmountable and it would take a mountain of paperwork to climb “. Faced with such intransigence, “We pitched the same idea to ITV who said, ‘Yes, fantastic.’ We entered into a three-year agreement.
“What they [the BBC] have in their possession is something that can really contribute to the landscape. And not to stress that too much, the British public paid for it anyway. There’s such a lack of imagination now, and nervousness. They see threats around every corner.
They don’t imagine these threats, I suggest, given that the Culture Secretary wants to scrap licensing fees. “If they just sit there and say it’s too complicated to research and monetize their own records, they deserve to have some threats,” Rider says.
“I hope we will have a bit of cooperation. It’s not just Formula 1, there’s a lot of stuff in the BBC archives. I think because of the current attitudes and philosophy, it means nothing to anyone, it’s too much like hard work.
We meet at a pub in the village of Thames Valley, within walking distance of Rider. Still the pro, he suggests we move the tables to a sunny garden for the sake of my recording, away from a bunch of lay guys looking at him for the long haul. For the record, Rider orders a pint of IPA without hesitation at 12:30 on a Monday. It was rude not to join him.
It is clear that his quest for access to the archives is not purely altruistic. Formula One Management has owned everything since 1980 and if Rider’s company can consolidate most of what exists before, F1 might be tempted to pay for it and take full control of its past. But I have no doubt that this is a passion project for Rider, which is why he is so disappointed in his longtime employer.
“I’m not saying the old spirit was the right spirit, but we had a great time, and I have no idea what’s going on right now. I went up to [BBC Sport HQ] Salford a few weeks ago and I was shown around. I said ‘where is the bar?’ “We don’t have a bar”. Every production meeting for Grandstand was in the bar.