They were the sports stars who defined an era, the daredevil bravery they employed on the track taking them to the very top of world motorsport, and their hell-raising antics keeping them on the front and back pages of the international press.

ITV Sport has produced a new documentary looking at the lives of 1970s motor racing legends Barry Sheene and James Hunt - and it will be shown tonight. When Playboys Ruled the World examines the close relationship between the two British world champions who, despite their different disciplines and backgrounds, became like brothers.

F1 star Hunt, who won the 1976 world championship, and Sheene, who claimed motorcycling world title glory that same year and the next, were crowd favourites and national heroes. As famous for the party lifestyle they led away from the track as their achievements on it, they embraced the playboy tag given to them.

When Playboys Ruled the World contrasts public and media attitudes towards the private lives of Sheene and Hunt in comparison with the heavily-scrutinised lifestyles of today's multi-million pound sports stars.

Produced by the team behind ITV Sport's Grierson-nominated documentary Clough, When Playboys Ruled the World mixes original interviews with Hunt and Sheene with exceptional archive footage and new opinion from friends, family members and industry experts. Contributors include Barry's widow Stephanie Sheene, James' brother David Hunt, Sir Stirling Moss, Max Mosley, Murray Walker, Max Clifford and Kelvin MacKenzie.

"James Hunt and Barry Sheene were the last of a generation whose lifestyles, as much as their huge success on the track, made them sporting heroes," remarked ITV Controller of Sport, Niall Sloane. "This new documentary tells the fascinating story of two of Britain's greatest motorsport champions, and looks at a way of life and a friendship which probably would not exist in the modern sporting and media world."

When Playboys Ruled the World is an ITV Sport production and will be broadcast on ITV1 tonight (Monday) at 10:30pm.