1966 FIFA World Cup Final (partially found original colour film of international football match; 1966)

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Poster for Goal! The World Cup, which contain the only known clips of the colour film.

Status: Partially Found

The 1966 FIFA World Cup Final was the conclusion of the eighth FIFA World Cup, an international football tournament conducted every four years. Hosted in England, it saw the Three Lions win its first and to date only World Cup by beating West Germany in the Final 4-2 after extra time on 30th July. The tournament and the Final itself are considered culturally significant and a symbol of sporting pride in England to this day, and the Final itself was fully televised by both the BBC and ITV. But while the full black-and-white recordings that were shown on television sets remain accessible as of the present day, the original colour film intended for a football documentary is now considered permanently lost.


The 1966 FIFA World Cup Final was heavily televised in the United Kingdom by both the BBC and ITV, in an attempt to ensure that the competition was covered extensively. The Final featured a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst, a controversial third goal for England where debate on whether the ball crossed the line still occurs,[1] and England's final goal that sparked commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme's famous phrase "They think it's all over! It is now!",[2] saw an overall total viewership of 32.3 million viewers in Britain, which is still the largest British television audience ever.[3]

Because of its clear significance, the black-and-white film the BBC recorded of the game was never subject to the organisation's wiping policy that affected many of its early programmes, including Doctor Who, and remains a culturally significant film that has been routinely re-broadcast. This usually happens in the build-up to a World Cup or European Championship that England has qualified, as a source of national pride, and for charitable causes.[4]

The Colour Film

One of the limitations of watching the game from television instead of at Wembley Stadium was the lack of colour. Indeed, colour television was still in its experimentation phase, and would not become a regular staple until 1967, when that year's Wimbledon Tennis Championships became the first to be regularly shown in colour.[5] However, as England and West Germany competed on the pitch, another camera crew was situated at the Stadium. It was led by Octavio Senoret, who had produced the official 1962 World Cup film, and was inspired to produce a subsequent documentary. Senoret's vision for the film was that it went beyond just an account of the 1966 World Cup. Having analysed Tokyo Olympiad, a colour film documenting the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Senoret wanted to have his film capture the full experience of the matches instead of just a bird's eye perspective of the game.[6]

Thus, his documentary entitled Goal! The World Cup would prove enticing for cinemagoers when it was released on 13th January, 1967 for two main reasons. Firstly, it would allow the audience to view the emotions of the World Cup, including North Korea's surprise run and Pele's injury that led to Brazil's unsuccessful title defence. Secondly, it would be the only instance where viewers could see matches, including the Final, in full colour. With 117 cameras, 46 hours of footage was recorded on 35mm film. Because of the expense and storage space required, only key moments in the earlier games were shot. However, when it came time to film the Final, multiple cameras were situated in various areas and captured extensive detail, including at the goalmouths and one exclusively capturing crowd reactions.

According to filmmaker Ross Devenish, it was assumed that the match would conclude after 90 minutes. However, following an 89th minute equaliser by West Germany's Wolfgang Weber, the match finished 2-2 in normal time. This created tension among the cameramen, as extra stock to store the film had to be quickly rushed out. Additionally, Devenish's team had missed filming one of the goals unlike the other crews, putting pressure on them to capture additional highlights without running of stock. England's third goal would be the crucial highlight they needed, capturing it in detail that Devenish described as "if it had been scripted by a master". Devenish and others would be just as thrilled when the game ended as the English supporters were, with their advanced high-speed cameras capturing the crowd's eruption.[7]


Goal! The World Cup was not intended to exclusively showcase the 1966 World Cup Final. Thus, to ensure the film was focused on capturimg the drama of the Final, the footage was edited down to only 20 minutes. Goal! The World Cup was critically acclaimed, and would win the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 20th British Academy Film Awards.[8]

These 20 minutes are the only known remnants of the original colour film. For many years afterwards various individuals sought to find the uncut footage. This included the team that produced Final Replay '66, who travelled to search the archives of the English and German Football Associations, the National Football Museum, the BBC and ITV, British Pathé, the British Film Institute, FIFA's vaults in Switzerland, and the documentary's distributors Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles. Ultimately, not only did none of these organisations hold a copy, none could help determine the film's location. After meeting Devenish in South Africa, it was concluded that the film is now permanently missing,[9] with Devenish's theory being that it was destroyed so that the silver nitrate the film contained could be recovered and reused.

Nevertheless, while the original colour film may be permanently lost, a project entitled Full Colour ’66 has worked to produce full colour coverage of the Final. The team behind Final Replay '66 utilised the black-and-white film as the base for this project, and the surviving colour highlights as vital references for the restoration.[10] With their expertise, the footage was restored and colourised over a nine month period.[11] Full Colour' 66 aired on Channel 4 on 10th July, 2021, a day prior to England's match against Italy at the 2021 UEFA European Championship Final.[12] As a result, the entire England-West Germany game is now available to view in full colour.


Full Colour '66 trailer.

British Pathé highlights of the Final in colour.

See Also

External Links


  1. An example of the debate over the third England goal, with Sky Sports claiming via technology that it was a goal. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  2. BBC video detailing the famous "They think it's all over! It is now!". Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  3. BBC detailing how it and ITV televised the Final, and its significant moments. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  4. Channel 4 stating it would re-air the 1966 World Cup Final in 2020. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  5. BBC detailing how the 1967 Wimbledon Tennis Championships became the first to be regularly shown in colour. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  6. England and the 1966 World Cup: A cultural history detailing Senoret's inspiration for producing Goal! The World Cup. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  7. Daily Mail article reporting on the lost colour film, including detailing how the Goal! The World Cup cameramen captured footage, it being cut down to only 20 minutes, and Devenish's theory that it was destroyed so the silver nitrate could be recovered. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  8. BAFTA noting Goal! The World Cup won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 20th British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  9. The Full Colour '66 Crowdfunder page discussing the remaining colour footage and concluding the colour film is permanently missing. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  10. Maniac Films detailing how the black-and-white film and colour highlights were used to create Full Colour '66. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  11. Final Replay discussing the Full Colour '66 project. Retrieved 30 Oct '21
  12. Daily Star article reporting that Full Colour' 66 would air on Channel 4. Retrieved 30 Oct '21