On the 27th July 2012 London’s West End closed its doors, there was only one London ticket worth having: The Olympic Opening Ceremony. From the 80,000 capacity stadium in East London, a 1400 strong volunteer cast under the direction of Danny Boyle showed the rest of the world what the United Kingdom is about; and what a show it was. Here are our top ten moments, do you agree?
10. Flags On the Mound
Credit has to be given to every country taking part as each contributed their flag to the hillside, a spiralling work of art in itself once completed. Along with the raising of the flags, it just goes to show that some of the simplest moments proved to be the best, providing relief amongst the backdrop of such a spectacle.
9. NHS – Nurses Hijack Spotlight!
The only medicine the NHS nurses had to offer at the ceremony was a bit of good old showbiz; possible side effects included tapping of the feet, bopping of the head and a jazz hand or two! Breaking into a Charleston and any other dance in which frantic kicking of the legs is encouraged not only celebrated the opening of the games but the work the NHS do for our country on a day to day basis.
8. Mary Poppins takes down Voldemort.
Boyle’s recognition of children’s literature made sure children around the world were engaged; once again good met evil as the bedtime stories of our childhoods were celebrated.Featuring a reading from J.K Rowling herself, staff and patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital tried to save the Great Ormond Street baby from nightmares in this fight against He Who Must Not Be Named who was aided by the horribly wicked, horribly styled Cruella De Vil. Add an army of umbrella wielding nannies to save the day and we would all sleep soundly again.
7. A Unique History Lesson
Forget wikipedia! Danny Boyle gave us his own summary of British History, transforming the heart of the city into the green grassy hillsides of the English countryside for English gentlemen to stroll across, reciting Shakespeare and Blake…only to be disrupted by the Industrial Revolution. A timeline of past events bringing us straight to the present with the celebration of the digital age; this directional move clearly a success with the millions tweeting, facebooking, texting (and anything else that doesn’t involve actually speaking) about the ceremony.
6. The most public PDA of all time?
With the help of social networking, the messages shared with those at home, a teenage pair meet to exchange a lost phone and a quick kiss. Another example of how this performance was as much about the small, intimate moments as the remarkable, large scale choreography.
5. Bond and Her Majesty – what a pair!
The ‘Queen’ arrives in a helicopter accompanied by Daniel Craig and parachutes into the Olympic Stadium while the use of film appealed to the television audience, the importance of which was clearly recognised by Danny Boyle. Again, bizarre but therefore fantastic. There was a sense that this was somewhat a British joke and in the words of India Knight, ‘No other country would do this. We’re amazing.’
4. Bean with the London Symphony Orchestra
Rowan Atkinson must be the only person who can hold the attention of one billion people by simply playing a keyboard with a blue umbrella. This rendition of the Chariots of Fire theme, in homage to British film, was eccentrically brilliant much like the rest of the ceremony.
3. Five Gold Rings
With this being the third time Britain has hosted the Olympic games, we were going to have to pull out all the stops to impress. Welders working to complete the fifth ring as it was hoisted into the sky joining up to create the famous symbol surely qualifies as something special; members of the stadium audience claim to have been able to smell the actual cordite of the furness.
2. Tributes to the fallen.
Modern dance and haunting musical composition removed the need for words as the stadium fell quiet to remember the Britain’s lost during the two world wars and the 7/7 bombings, the latter which struck just one day after the UK were chosen as the host city for the 2012 games. The connection between a small child and his father captured the stadium in the closing notes of Abide With Me, poignantly sung by Emeli Sandé.
1. A Beacon of Britishness.
As each country was welcomed into the stadium, speculation surrounded the purpose of those copper petals. Representative of the English Rose? A frivolous accessory? But as the next generation of athletes made their way to the Cauldron it all became clear. Cleverly designed by Thomas Heatherwick, over 200 copper petals burned bright rising to form one flame; a perfect symbol for the coming together of nations over the next few weeks.
Kiran Benawra and Lauren Wilson
All Images Courtesy of Nick J Webb