click the link to watch the Ceremony on BBC iPlayer
It was always going to be a big one, the #savethesurprise tweets from those who’d attended the dress rehearsals spiked the hype that was already building and those of us who couldn’t attend waited with severe anticipation to see what the fuss was about. I took to twitter less because I didn’t want the surprise ruined. Months of planning, lots of moaning and groaning and of course endless comparisons to the Opening Ceremony in Beijing four years prior, all eyes were on London to see what Danny Boyle could pull off. One thing was clear from the off, we were not trying to compete with Beijing we were just going to do our thing. Still we waited with great anticipation as to what we should expect. Rumours and several versions of stories, the Olympic torch bearer, the hype was endless.
But it was worth it.
Opening Ceremony…Let the games begin.
It was, in one word, FANTASTIC. two; BLOODY BRILLIANT. It was everything truly British and did the nation proud, Danny Boyle deserves a knighthood for the job so very well done. It was a history lesson through the years; it told a story of how Britain came to be Great, from Industrialisation to the suffragettes movement; women who fought for the rights we so freely enjoy today (there were descendants of suffragettes in the stadium too. How cool) to the coal miners, the music through the decades, family life, Eastenders!, the NHS. It featured lots of children from the hearing and non-hearing children’s choir to the segment on Great Ormond Street Hospital… this was Britain at its very best; quirky, unique, fun and so quintessentially British. And in so doing this surpassed the expectation of everyone and in my opinion, outdid the Beijing ceremony. And he agrees with me.
Where Beijing was a show of the glitz and pizzazz, the London ceremony was a show of history, culture with warmth and heart. The journey of the Olympic Torch was in itself a heart-warming event, everyone was involved, the young and old, inspiring people, leaders of the future, Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, that gave me such chills of happiness, Andy Murray, Venus Willaims, Tim Henman, Bruce Foresythe, Eddy and Patsy from Ab Fab, a live segment of the torch passing through the East End in East-Enders…Danny Boyle made the Opening Ceremony, not only about the history of the United Kingdom, including the four corners of the Kingdom; Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Britain, but also the people, this was very much about the people. He made a huge emphasis on children, from the Chaos Signing choir for deaf and hearing children who performed the national anthem, to the tribute to the NHS segment featuring the patients and staff of Great Ormond Street Hospital; GOSH, JK Rowling read an excerpt from Peter Pan, (royalties of the book were bequeathed to GOSH). The segment called, Second to the right and straight on to the morning, directions Peter gave to Wendy to Neverland, played out myths of children going to stay in hospitals, monsters and nightmares, the night light, the fright all before Mary Poppins saves the day, complete with über cool umbrella and handbag, floating in from the sky. Even Lord Voldemort made an appearance.
The music segment was another dazzling part of the ceremony; from Soul II Soul, the Beattles, Prodigy…it brought back my days of raving all night long! Memories. Modern day music talent including Dizzee Rascal who performed his hit single BONKERS. Of course. In a segment capturing the story of the digital age, about how connected we have become to each other, the typical Saturday night at home with the family, British music culture, Grime music which was borne in the East End, etc. tribute was paid to Sir Tim Berners-Lee; founder of the World Wide Web and to whom we owe EVERYTHING in the modern world (btw Al Gore did not discover the internet…I have no idea why anyone would think that but let’s just clear that up) Sir Tim didn’t patent the web because he made it for everyone, he created the first website in 1990. The memorial segment paid tribute to the dead, victims of the 7/7 bombings which took place in London the day after we won the Olympic bid, they were remembered in a splendid and moving rendition of Abide With Me by Emile Sande and choreographer Akram Khan. Dame Evelyn Glennie on the drums, who is profoundly deaf, was nothing short of AWESOME.
This was a showing of Great British past times, culture, traditions and eccentricities, hello Mr Bean. This is what makes the Brits truly unique.
One of the best moments in the evening was David Beckham delivering the Torch to, as I rightly called it, Sir Steve Redgrave. In that speedboat, very 007 with a twist (Beckham for Bond?) Sir Redgrave carried the Torch into the Stadium only he didn’t light the cauldron, he passed it on to a group of young boys and girls selected by athletes and olympians including Daley Thompson, Dame Kelly Holmes etc, each had a torch and after a lap around the stadium, they lit the cauldron. How utterly inspiring. I still get chills just remembering everything.
What I loved the most about the Opening Ceremony in London was its underlying message to the young; to aspire to become someone even they can be proud of, to inspire other generations, to read and to learn. It is what I take away from it and I hope every young person who watched was curious enough to ask questions and intrigued enough to pick up a book, turn off the TV and read.
And for those moaning about the traffic blah, blah, blah… please do us all a favour, book a ticket, get on a plane and go wherever you want to, we won’t miss you I promise. Otherwise be quiet and enjoy! for this may never happen in our lifetime again.
Oh Danny Boyle Oh Danny Boyle I love you so…