5 Great British Underdog Stories

Posted on 01 Aug 2016 by Anna Scott
Last week saw the announcement that this year’s astonishing Leicester City Premier League victory is going to get the Hollywood treatment. It will be interesting to see what they make of the rise and rise of Jamie Vardy, but let’s face it, this should come as no surprise because everyone LOVES a British underdog story and they’ve certainly not been immune to the cinematic treatment in the past. To get you in the mood for the future release of a Leicester City-themed movie (hopefully they’ll all pronounce it properly), here are a few more British underdog stories, some that have already be adapted into movie magic and some that deserve to be…


Eddie the Eagle

Eddie 'The Eagle' EdwardsA film based on the life of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was released earlier this year, but anyone who was born after 1980 might not have been familiar with his achievements, or lack of. Famous for finishing last in 2 ski jumping events at the 1988 Winter Olympics, Edwards was actually a highly rated downhill skier before he tried his hand at ski jumping because of the lower costs involved. His lack of success endeared him to audiences all over the globe and he continued to forge a media career in the years following the event. Admired for his representation of the Olympic spirit as someone competing in spite of the odds stacked against them, the Eddie the Eagle story was classic British underdog material and even though the film took a few artistic liberties with the story, its success is testament to the affection we still have for the sportsman as well as the character.


JK Rowling

J. K. Rowling Most British underdog stories tend to focus on unlikely sporting achievements, but the success of author JK Rowling is worthy of classic underdog status as much as any of those other achievements, perhaps even more so. Rowling’s story is often used as an example of a classic rags to riches tale as she was living in virtual poverty as a single parent when she finished writing the first in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Since its publication in 1997, this book and subsequent titles in the series have gone onto to become worldwide bestsellers now ranked in the list of best-selling books in history and she was named ‘The Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors in 2010. So when are we going to get a JK Rowling biopic then?


Graeme Obree

Graeme ObreeAnother underdog story that’s already been adapted into a film, you might not be as familiar with the achievements of this Scottish cyclist as others in this post. Hailed by Sir Chris Hoy as a genius, technical know-how and sheer determination saw Obree break the world hour velodrome record in astonishing circumstances in 1993, missing the mark by nearly a kilometre before coming back the following day to try again and succeed. This begun a long rivalry with fellow cyclist Chris Boardman who broke his record less than a week later (Obree then went onto knock Boardman out of the world championship pursuit a few months after). Graeme is almost as famous for his bike-building skills as his titles, with his bike ‘Old Faithful’ made using the bearings from his washing machine, but he was also very influential on the eventual decision for cycling authorities to lift a ban on new changes to bicycle shape and riding position. The film based on his autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, was released in 2007.


The England Ashes 2005 Team

England Ashes Team 2005Ok, so they weren’t strictly speaking ‘underdogs’ at the time of going into the competition (the England team were ranked second in the world just before the start of the series), but they hadn’t won the title of the Australian side since 1989 and many people were starting to believe it would never actually happen. The day after its conclusion, the BBC declared it ‘the most thrilling series ever’, being closely fought right up until the last test at The Oval in September. When it was finally declared a draw, the Ashes were returned to England after 16 years and 8 series.


The London 2012 Games Makers

London 2012 Games MakersThere were many heroes made in the summer of 2012, but perhaps the best underdog story was that of the volunteer games makers, a group of people who gave up their spare time to make the 2012 Olympics one of the nation’s happiest memories. As the recent BBC documentary ‘One Night in 2012’ showed, the dedication of those who took part in the memorable Opening Ceremony left a huge mark, so perhaps we can look forward to more on-screen celebrations of their achievements in the future.


You can make your own underdog story by learning a new skill with Of Course promotional codes, or perhaps take up a new sporting hobby with Sweatband discount codes. Or of you want to pay tribute to many other British heroes, why not take a museum trip using Little Bird promo codes? There are many are many local and national heroes up and down the land, some more obvious than others, so why not seek one out and discover their story…



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