Four Billion To Watch London Olympics Opening Ceremony
British countryside theme for Danny Boyle’s much-anticipated extravaganza to open the London 2012 Olympic games.
In a day’s time all eyes will be on London as an estimated global television audience of up to four billion tune in to watch the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Entitled “Isles of Wonder” and taking place in the Olympic Stadium, the Ceremony will showcase the Best of Britain and will feature a parade of all 204 participating nations as well as the symbolic lighting of the Olympic torch.
At 9pm on Friday 27th July the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe will sound to kick off the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Produced by East London’s famous Whitechapel Foundry, the 27-tonne bell is inscribed with a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest – “Be not afeared: the isle is full of noises”.
Although full details of the GBP27m Ceremony have been carefully kept under wraps, artistic director Danny Boyle – best-known for the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire – has told the world’s media that the opening scene will be called “Green and Pleasant” and will see the Olympic Stadium in Stratford transformed into the British countryside.
A cast of 10,000 volunteers will help recreate idyllic country scenes against a backdrop featuring real farmyard animals and miniature versions of landmarks such as Glastonbury Tor. The elaborate set will feature meadows of real grass, fields, rivers, an oak tree and rain-producing ‘clouds’ suspended from wires above the Stadium (not that fake rain may be necessary, of course).
Families will be shown taking picnics, people will be playing sports on village greens and farmers will till the soil. In fact, real farmyard animals will be grazing – including 30 sheep, 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese and three sheepdogs. The Ceremony will also include a special sequence celebrating the best of British services, featuring volunteer performers from the NHS.
Director Danny Boyle said: “Our Isles of Wonder salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people.” Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of LOCOG, said it would be a “fantastic celebration” and would “make our nation proud”.
Besides the intriguing centrepiece spectacle, the Opening Ceremony will include Olympic staples such as the receiving of the Head of State of the host nation, the parade of nations, the speeches (from Lord Coe and President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge), the playing of the Olympic anthem, the entry and raising of the Olympic flag, the oaths, the arrival of the Olympic Torch and, or course, the fabled lighting of the Olympic Flame.
The identity of the former British Olympian entrusted with the task of lighting the Olympic torch is a closely guarded secret that will keep spectators on the edge of their seats until the key moment. Among those thought to be in the frame to light the torch are five-time rowing gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave or twice decathlon champion Daley Thompson.
While spectators can not expect anything as long, ostentatious and overtly expensive or political as the Beijing 2008 Ceremony, they can certainly expect a jolly good show.
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