'Driving Force': Judy Murray meets the top stars of women's sport in her new series
Judy Murray hears from heroes of women's sport in 'Driving Force' on ITV.
Driving Force on ITV will meet those who have achieved tremendous success and broken boundaries in sport. Conversations about sporting greats do often centre around male stars, but tennis coach Judy Murray — mum of past Wimbledon and US Open tennis champion Andy Murray — is challenging all that in Driving Force, a revealing series where she talks to some of our most successful female sporting heroes, including rugby’s Maggie Alphonsi, former Olympic champion and professional boxer Katie Taylor and Olympic gold-winning heptathlete Denise Lewis.
"I’ve seen firsthand how far we’ve come in terms of levelling the playing field for female sports, and yet we still have so much ground to cover," says Judy in the show. "My aim is to look at where we’ve come from and what the future holds."
So here's everything you need to know about Judy Murray's Driving Force on ITV.
'Driving Force' release date
Driving Force begins on Tuesday January 18 on ITV at 10.45pm. It will also be shown on ITV4 from Monday January 17 at 8pm. Each episode of Driving Force will later appear on ITV Hub.
'Driving Force' episode 1 — footballer Eni Aluko
The first week of Driving Force sees Judy chat to former Chelsea, Juventus and England footballer Eni Aluko, who grew up playing football on her estate in Birmingham before joining her school boys’ team.
"I told them to call me Eddie, rather than Eni, because I didn’t want anything to make me stand out," recalls Eni. "Growing up in the 1990s there was no women’s football on TV. The only women’s sport on TV was tennis, so the Williams sisters were my closest role models."
But she says the watershed moment for women’s football came at the London 2012 Olympics. It was only then that top-flight football cubs began investing in their women’s teams and Eni was offered a professional contract at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Eni also opens up about racism and the moment the then England coach Mark Sampson allegedly told her to ensure her Nigerian relatives didn’t bring Ebola to a Wembley game. But the experience has only made her more determined to inspire young female footballers.
"The more we see great women doing great things, the more young girls will say, I can do that. I take it seriously that what I do will inspire other people. It’s a really privileged position to be in!"
'Driving Force'— sports stars appearing in later episodes
In later episodes of Driving Force, Judy will be meeting...
From the world of horse racing, champion jockey Hayley Turner, rugby star Maggie Alphonsi, Netball star Tracey Neville (sister of Gary and Phil Neville), Heptathlete Denise Lewis, motorsport star Jamie Chadwick and Irish Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor.
Denise Lewis says: “If you want to see change, you’ve got to be at the table... For too long, we haven't had enough women doing that... It’s very much about diversity as well. We lose a lot of young girls if they feel excluded and they feel like they’re not as good as everyone else. So they drop off. They look for something else that gives them validation and makes them feel good. So we have to be mindful that we keep as many people in and feeling good about sport as possible.”
Hayley Turner says: “Female jockeys are getting a lot more opportunities now because they’re getting a lot more training to be stronger. They’re getting jockey coaches, they’ve got Peter O’Sullivan houses where they are trained to be strong and that’s not something I ever had. It was a case of just winging it. I will always say you’re going to be good at a job if you enjoy it. I didn’t know about the racing school. I only went because my friend in my year was going and I hadn’t even heard of it and it would be nice if the schools made it a more approachable job.”
Maggie Alphonsi says: “My goal is to make sure people of different diverse backgrounds see people like me or various different types of people and go, I can play that sport and they don't think it’s for a particular person or a particular stereotype.”
When Judy Murray meets Irish boxing star Katie Taylor in episode 2, Katie will be looking back at her childhood, the significance of family, the power of faith and staying true to yourself. We learn of how Katie was a fundamental driving force behind the immense rise of Women’s Boxing, and how she is now considered by many the greatest female boxer of all time.
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.
By Ural Garrett