John Norman: Producer who filmed Sobers' sixes

The cricketing world owes a huge debt to John Norman for his dedication to duty 40 years ago. For, despite having been told by the producers of Grandstand to shut down the cameras at the Glamorgan v Nottinghamshire county championship cricket match at St Helen's, Swansea on 31 August 1968, he kept them rolling.

Rather than take the easy option of having a cup of tea, Norman and one of his cameramen, John Lewis, decided to focus on the great West Indies all-rounder Garry Sobers, at the crease for Notts.

The game appeared to be going nowhere that Saturday afternoon until Sobers decided to make his mark in history. Five minutes of mayhem ensued and arguably cricket's most viewed and highly prized piece of film was captured.

Having broadcast some of the game to BBC Wales viewers earlier in the day, one of the production team from the BBC's flagship sports programme, Grandstand, had rung Norman at 4.45pm to say the camera and commentary crew could "stand down".

"We were told to go home by Grandstand, but John Lewis, the cameraman and a keen cricketer, asked if we could keep the camera running because he wanted to take a look at Sobers through a fixed lens," Norman recalled. "I rang Derek Griffin, the recording engineer in Cardiff, and told him to switch the tape on, just in case. It was all really a chapter of accidents."

The rest, as they say, is history. Malcolm Nash got thrashed all over Swansea as Sobers became the first man in cricketing history to hit six sixes in an over. The final shot went out of the ground and it didn't take long for the news to travel. "Fifteen minutes after it was all over, the Grandstand producer who had told us to stand down rang back and begged me not to spill the beans," Norman said.

The film that Norman and Lewis had shot, voiced by the commentator Wilf Wooller, made the national news and by the next day had been sold to 15 countries around the world. The bat that Sobers used that day was sold at auction in Australia for £54,257 in 2000, the ball that flew out of the ground for his sixth six raised £26,400 at Christie's in London two years ago and the current going rate to use the five-minute film at the BBC Wales archive is £18,000.

Born in Cardiff in 1928, Norman was a real-life "Sporting Sam" who became a Nigerian rugby international in the late Fifties when sent by the BBC to work as Head of Nigerian Broadcasting. He had joined the BBC in Cardiff as an engineer shortly after leaving the RAF in 1955. He had an electrical qualification and went through every engineering department learning every facet of broadcasting.

But sport was his great passion and he spent time in London working on Match of the Day and Grandstand, alongside the great commentators, David Coleman, Kenneth Wolstenholme and Harry Carpenter. He eventually returned to become an assistant producer within the newly created Sport Wales department in Cardiff and was responsible for bringing many sports to air, including baseball and bowls.

A dedicated follower of the fortunes of Old Illtydians RFC in Cardiff, he retired from the BBC in the late Eighties but was always in demand for freelance work.

Rob Cole

John Norman, television producer: born Cardiff 26 December 1928; married; died Groes-faen, Rhondda Cynon Taff 29 July 2008.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power