London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Bronze ***
Olympic Stadium, Stratford, London E15
27th July 2012
The watching world was promised a spectacular opening ceremony to the 30th Olympic Games and London 2012 certainly delivered that last night. It was never less than visually entertaining, spectacular and watchable. We had great fireworks, dancing, comedy from James Bond (Actor Daniel Craig) with Her Majesty The Queen in Buckingham Palace, Mr Bean (Actor Rowan Atkinson), great scenes – Mary Poppins, music from Dizee Rascal and the Arctic Monkeys, Angels, dark satanic mills, speedboats and helicopters in the sky.
I loved seeing David Beckham too driving in a speed boat along the River Thames, bringing the Olympic Torch to the Olympic Stadium. Lord Seb Coe’s speech was wonderful and the finale, the lighting of the torch, the end to the guessing game of who would light it was finally revealed – as 7 young, upcoming athletes jointly lit the Olympic flame and opened the games.
That was all well and good, but for me much of the show made no sense at all. TV Commentary helped a little bit, but the Commentators didn’t seem to have that much insight to shed light on what they and the viewer (all 26.9m of us in the UK) were watching. DJ and local boy (Hackney) Trevor Nelson could barely disguise his frustration and underwhelment. He seemed happiest spotting his family members in the show – represented by some of the St Lucian athletes.
It’s meant to be a welcoming party, not a history lesson and just too much was simply irrelevant and non-sensical and if us Brits found this to be so, I dread to think what the watching estimated TV audience of 4 billion felt. For the majority of the time the show was strange, disjointed, disconnected and dumbfoundingly confusing. We were promised something unique, but it was the usual mass of dancers, colourful images and marathon long show.
Personally I think opening ceremonies are a total waste of time and money. I cannot see where the so called £27m budget was spent. Maybe there was a £23m “management fee” for Producer Danny Boyle and £4m spent on the spectacle. I wouldn’t deny the athletes the right to enter the Olympic Stadium parade, proudly representing their respective countries, but then did the timing really assist them? For many, the answer was obviously no. We were told that the Games were designed with the athletes in mind first and foremost yet most of the recognised names were not there – either as they were competing this week-end or weren’t even in the country!
It was mightily annoying that not only does the parade go on well past midnight but that the alphabetical order didn’t include Team GB and the viewer had to endure watching every other nation enter the stadium. Then, what made it worst here were only about 3 recognisable GB athletes – GB flag carrier and 3 time Olympic Gold Medallist Sir Chris Hoy (pictured below), Tom Daley and Zoe Smith. Many were still at the Team GB Portugese training camp. Most cyclists like this week’s newly crowned Tour De France Champion Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were probably getting a good night’s sleep preparing for today’s Cycling Road race (28.07.12). Maybe it would be better to hold the Opening Ceremony 2 days before the first major day of competition if it means we get to see more of the Olympic stars. I thought that was what this was all about after all.
The musical segment had great potential but was extremely disjointed and irritating in the extreme. We ‘d have little snippets of great songs from The Jam, Pet Shop Boys and co, then it would cut to another song, like the worst annoying DJ at a club. They even did that to Dizzee Rascall and he was signing in the Stadium! The best musical highlight was Emile Sande’s (pictured below) moving rendition of ‘Abide with Me’ and the Arctic Monkey’s.
Hey Paul. Take a great song and make it bad
The “rule book” that presumably exists and states Sir Paul McCartney must headline and close all major events needs amending. ‘Hey Jude’s a great song and terrific anthem, but Sir Paul simply didn’t do it justice at all – he missed a full note early on – the missed beat so glaring you could have driven a London Bus through it. Overall the vocal quality just wasn’t there, added to which the drumming on it was so lacklustre it was un-true. Some might say, ‘Let it Be’, but I’d say it’s more of a case of ‘Let it go’ Sir Paul.
The Queen’s welcoming speech was so disappointing – brief and to the point. All that wait and then all she said was “Welcome. I know announce the Olympic Games are open.” Then sat down!
1. Cut the length of the show from it’s current 3.5-4 hours (I’m not sure if it finished at the stated 12. 30am as I’d had enough and went to bed before even seeing Team GB enter the athletes parade) to around 2-2.5 hours maximum, featuring a few good length 20-30m sets from big name and quality lesser known bands and singers to showcase the best of British music.
2. Have current musical stars or if insisting on old Rockers, then at least pick those who can still carry a tune and sing. A reformed The Police or Sting solo would have been preferable. Adele. Take That. Ed Sheeran.
3. Feature more of the sport’s biggest names, even non-athletics stars e.g. footballers.
4. This is a great sporting and political occasion. How about having a 100m race between President’s and Prime Ministers? Between Sports Ministers.
5. Play on the royal connection. Have an Olympic 110m hurdles or 3,000m steeplechase featuring all the leading royals, The Queen, Prince Philip, Charles, Camilla, Harry and William etc..
6. More comedy. It was sorely lacking, yet it’s one of our great industries. Surely a role for some of our leading lights could have been found e .g. Michael McIntrye or Jimmy Carr?
I hope LOCOG and the International Olympic Committee are taking notes. I’m not sure if we’ve another opening ceremony to come for the Paralympic Games, or perhaps the closing ceremonies to come present early opportunities to put these ideas into place.
Tiemo Talk of the Town
28th July 2012