A new programme co-produced by the BBC and The Open University (OU) explores broadcaster, Charlie Webster’s journey to uncover the truth about her past, when she and her friends from a Sheffield running group were abused by their coach.
The programme follows Charlie, now 38, a broadcaster and journalist who joined an all-girls running group when she was 12.
Running became her passion and escape, and the girls in her running group were her best friends. Outwardly, it seemed like a dream. In reality, Charlie and her teammates were being abused by their coach, yet Charlie never spoke to her friends about what she was going through.
During the programme, Charlie reaches out to her old running group in the hopes of piecing together what they all went through and how it was allowed to happen.
Simon Rea, WELS Media Fellow, commented on how the abuse Charlie faced had affected her life and passion for running, and her devotion to uncovering the truth:
“This is a powerful story of how one girl’s love of running and desire to be the very best was soured by the actions of an abusive coach that she had fully trusted. Not only did it impact Charlie’s love of athletics but how she lived her life afterwards.
“It has since come to light that she was not alone in her horrendous treatment, as this coach was abusing other runners in her coaching group.
“Within the programme, we see Charlie’s determination to find out the full story, passionate search for her old friends and, unfortunately, the devastating discoveries she makes.
“Charlie’s journey is a tragic yet vital examination into the abuse she and other young girls faced years ago.”
Charlie has channelled her experience into highlighting mental health difficulties faced by athletes, creating and hosting a podcast titled My Sporting Mind and writing about wellbeing and wider social issues for BBC Sport.
Find out more
This programme was commissioned by Broadcast and Partnerships and is supported by the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, with particular relevance to:
- Q76 – BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching
- W07 – Diploma of Higher Education in Sport and Fitness
- T05 – Cert HE in Sport, Fitness and Management
Visit the OU’s new Broadcast site to read Academic Consultant, Professor Ben Oakley’s piece about How everyone can contribute to safer, child-centred sport experiences and Sporting aspiration: where power meets vulnerability.
- Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships
- Academic Consultant: Prof. Ben Oakley
- Media Fellow: Simon Rea
- Broadcast Project Manager: Matthew Ray
- Broadcast Platforms and Public Engagement Manager: Chris Belson