A city coach who trained gold medal-winning athlete Allan Wells before his 1980 Olympic triumph is set to make a surprise appearance on one of TV’s top shows.
Bill Walker, a coach at Edinburgh Athletic Club for more than 50 years, will feature on Wednesday night’s edition of ITV’s Surprise Surprise.
The long-running show sees unsuspecting audience members pushed into the limelight by their friends and family for doing good deeds in the local community.
But it took months of planning and a few fibs from the show’s producers and fellow coach Eric Fisher to trick the 76-year-old into travelling down to London for filming.
“They said they wanted me to do a documentary on sport in the community,” said Mr Walker. “I’ve never been so duped in my whole life.”
Mr Walker’s career as a volunteer coach at Edinburgh Athletic Club has seen him train some of the biggest names in British athletics, including Wells, who worked on his starts with the coach in the months before the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, the club had ten athletes competing for medals in some of the event’s top categories.
The coach has been training athletes as young as nine at Meadowbank since 1960.
But even after making the journey down to London last week and entering the Surprise Surprise studio, he was completely unaware of what Eric and the producers had in store.
Mr Fisher said: “Bill said to me he thought we were in the wrong place – that this wasn’t a sports thing. He was chatting to the people next to us telling them we had arrived late and were in the wrong place.”
Mr Walker said his “jaw dropped” when host Holly Willoughby said his name and the spotlight landed on him sitting in the audience – highlighting his achievements and long career.
He was even approached by former athlete Dame Kelly Holmes after the show, as she had recognised him on the screen while in a neighbouring studio.
But he insists the greatest pleasure he gets from coaching comes from helping kids find something they are good at and make something of their lives.
He said: “It’s just getting kids to do well – it doesn’t matter what standard they are at. Sometimes it’s just a kid who’s never done that well at anything and suddenly they do really well at athletics and you see the change in them. They blossom.”