Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League – 20 September 2021 – 20/9/2021 – BBC Two

Series 1 Episode 3 of 4 – With a moment of audacious brilliance, David Beckham elevates himself into the national consciousness. His legendary 60-yard wonder goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon becomes the moment that changes his life.

In this episode we explore the rise of the celebrity footballer, symbolised by Beckham in the mid 90s. He’s part of a much-feted new breed of footballers who are starting to resemble rock stars more than sportsmen. When Beckham starts a relationship with ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Adams, the pair are catapulted onto the pages of every gossip column.

But for every David Beckham there has to be a casualty who isn’t quite so fortunate. Keith Gillespie was once dubbed ‘the new George Best’, and yet his journey through the 90s couldn’t be more divergent from that of David Beckham. The pair had been friends and were both members of United’s so-called Class of 92, who went on to form the backbone of their success through the next decade.

After a whirlwind start at Manchester United, Gillespie is deemed surplus to requirements and offloaded to title rivals Newcastle United. While there is no drop in his form, the loneliness of living in a strange town away from the Man United youth team players he’d grown up with leads Gillespie to seek solace in the local bookmakers. In another era, Gillespie might have been able to ask for help, but his gambling habit goes from bad to worse before he is inevitably outed by a tabloid newspaper.

On the pitch, Gillespie and Beckham each have their sights set on their first Premier League winners’ medal. The 1995/96 season concludes with a dramatic showdown – either Newcastle or Manchester United will be crowned champions on the final day.

About Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League

Charting the creation and evolution of the Premier League from 1992 to 2000.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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