The Olympic Opening Ceremony: From Queen To Bean

By M@ Last edited 69 months ago
The Olympic Opening Ceremony: From Queen To Bean
Some animals are on the pitch, they think it's all clover. It is cow.
Some animals are on the pitch, they think it's all clover. It is cow.
Lords of the Rings.
Lords of the Rings.
Rings of Fire.
Rings of Fire.
The stadium structure grows in fireworks.
The stadium structure grows in fireworks.
On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service.
On Her Majesty's Not-So-Secret Service.
Tim Berners-Lee. Hero.
Tim Berners-Lee. Hero.
Sir Steve Redgrave awaits the Olympic flame, which seemed to get lost on Bow Back Rivers.
Sir Steve Redgrave awaits the Olympic flame, which seemed to get lost on Bow Back Rivers.
Queenie checks her nails.
Queenie checks her nails.
The Olympic flag, carried by the great and good.
The Olympic flag, carried by the great and good.
Thomas Heatherwick's cauldron.
Thomas Heatherwick's cauldron.
Ooooo, ahhhhh.
Ooooo, ahhhhh.

The rambunctious Opening Ceremony to the XXXth Olympiad began with a sylvan vista of faux fields and pastiche pastoral. From there, Danny Boyle's epic retelling of British History weaved in our smokey industrial heritage, the great cultural output of the 20th Century, and the technological present.

It was an evening filled with highlights, oddities and cameos; here are a few random thoughts:

  • QUESTION: Who would win in a fight between Voldemort and Mary Poppins? ANSWER: The NHS.
  • On reflection, Bradley Wiggins was a better choice to ring the Olympic Bell than Jeremy Hunt.
  • Brunel, Tim Berners-Lee and a balloon launch to the edges of space...this was the Opening Ceremony where science, technology and engineering took equal billing with the arts.
  • The Beatles made a telling contribution to the Industrial Revolution, it seems.
  • The Queen already has an IMDB page, but should now get an entry as an actress and extreme sports enthusiast.
  • Although the TARDIS could be heard at one point, there was no appearance for Doctor Who. Danny Boyle has apparently altered a fixed point in time, jeopardizing the Universe. Beat that, Rio.
  • Daniel Craig cemented his place as one of the great James Bonds, but was almost upstaged by David Beckham's speedboat antics.
  • Still cool: The Red Arrows, Dizzee Rascal, Arctic Monkeys, Michael Fish.
  • Still the coolest: Muhammad Ali.
  • Danny Boyle and Thomas Heatherwick are shoe-ins for knighthoods.
  • Rowan Atkinson is still funny, if only in small doses.
  • Paul McCartney is still an entertainer, if only in small doses.
  • The Ceremony received 27 million views on BBC1, the largest audience in modern times.

What were your highlights?

Last Updated 28 July 2012

nick price

good Opening Ceremony for London 

James B

Drumming and marshalling in the ceremony - all because of an article in Londonist asking for volunteers. A once in a lifetime experience. Ta!


The 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony was a significant
moment for London. This was not because it marked the opening of one of the
world's most prestigious sporting events, not because it marked the first time
a city had hosted the games for a third occasion. Bizarrely, the significance
of the opening ceremony lay in the fact that it managed in one four hour show,
to scope, affirm, celebrate and bring to London, Britain and the world's consciousness,
the astonishing contribution that Great Britain and London had made to popular
music, over the last half century. That this occurred owed nothing to foresight,
but instead to the serendipity of the ceremony directorship being handed to
Danny Boyle, a man well read in popular music and determined to demonstrate
Britain's contribution; coinciding with the fiftieth birthday of the birth of
permissiveness and liberalism, during which time popular music was born and
since when an awesome variety of musical genres and styles have been created
and exported around the world.


To ensure the show paid homage to the immensity of Britain’s
contribution to popular music, and to the diversity of the styles created, Danny
Boyle recruited the band Underworld, iconic figures of 1990s dance culture, and
collaborators with Boyle on previous cinematic and theatrical soundtracks, to
pick the music. Homage was paid throughout the opening ceremony, but perhaps
the first and most significant contribution, came an hour or so into the show,
when the show turned to the journey made by a group of teenage girls, who went
through a tour of British musical culture. The tour started with the Beatles
and Rolling Stones in the 60s, moved to the Sex Pistols and punk rock in the
70s, onto the new romantics, acid house and dance music of the 80s, via the
trance of Underworld and the techno of Prodigy in the 90s before finishing with
a live performance by Dizzy Rascal, contemporary purveyor of hip hop and dance
fusion. But this wasn’t all. As the athletes entered the stadium their steps
were accompanied and encouraged by a montage of high tempo dance and indie
rock. During this time the Bee Gees’ Night Fever greeted the entrance of Fiji,
a rhyming coincidence, and besides that touching, given the death of member
Robin Gibbs, some months before. Then, once the athletes were ensconced inside
the running track, and everyone was expecting the ceremony to take on a
spiritual harmonious feel, the Arctic Monkeys a furious rock band from
Sheffield, who came to prominence midway through the first decade of the new
millennium, appeared to everyone's astonishment. From a platform situated high
up in the stadium they blew an electric storm into the audience’s faces,
thrashing out their anthem ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’. And
finally, and fittingly, after the Olympic flame had been lit, the world and
athletes were engaged, arm in arm, swaying and singing to the chorus of ‘Heh
Jude’ led inevitably by the septuagenarian, Paul McCartney, front man for
Britain’s greatest contribution to popular music. By this time the true scale
of the achievement was beginning to dawn on Londoners. Seeing Paul McCartney
egging the crowd reminded one of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, only this
was a Golden Jubilee. In effect the opening ceremony constituted Britain
presenting a lifetime achievement award to itself, a gold medal if you like,
smugly, but with enough warrant for it to be done confidently, in front of a
global audience. It was truly a moment to be proud of.