Saturday, 28 July 2012


A hundred Mary Poppins' floating down to drive away the nightmares of scores of hospitalized children
Kenneth Brannah as Isambard Kingdom Brunel over seeing the rise of the Industrial revolution with his Bradly Wiggins' sideburns
and Pogo-ing punks with giant heads dance around a normal British detached house during a family party.

Danny Boyle has produced an original, visually stunning and sentimental free Olympic Ceremony.
Some parts I absolutely loved ( the rise of the great factory chimneys, the tribute to the nhs,the celebration of Childrens' literacy  and the lighting of the flower like petals of the Olympic cauldron by seven teenagers) and some parts such as Paul Mc Cartney, James Bond and Mr Bean, I was not too sure about.
But in retrospect, I think Boyle's quirky, intensely personal, and up to date alternative to the excesses of the Chinese production was a wise choice, as it gave the world a chance to see  British sensibilities that are a million miles away from Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Judy Dench.
To me it managed the impossible. It summed up today's Britain... which is patriotic, parochial, wry. self effacing and f*cking bonkers

I would be interested to hear how  others thought of it all?.


  1. We don't have TV,so we've missed it all.
    Jane x

  2. Just watching it now and am not spellbound like I was at the Beijing Olympics. Maybe trying to do too much here and worried about leaving anybody out! So far, way to youth oriented and not because I am old!! lol
    I will give it more time....if I stay awake.

  3. Watching it here in the US right now and I LOVE this opening! Simply wonderful - Danny Boyle did a fabulous job!

  4. I'm with Jim on the opening ceremonies -- it seems rather unfocused. And very noisy.

  5. Barely five minutes into the opening, and I was crying like a baby, "Jerusalem" has that effect on me.
    I was mesmerized by the beginning timeline, so innocent and beautiful, the raising of the smoke stacks in the Industrial Revolution and the forging of the Olympic Rings....brilliant.
    I got somewhat lost after that, the athletes are making their way to the stadium right now, so hopefully more to enjoy later.

  6. Watching the athletes parade in now. Absolutely wonderful. I know you Brits will do a great job.

  7. I did admire the creativity of the led lights in the audience to light up in a variety of patterns. I also like the "cycling doves. (I missed the very first part.)

  8. Just home from the market in time to see the lighting of the cauldron which I thought was brilliant.
    Mary Poppins, that so so English nanny, was written by an Aussie did you know ? (
    Thought Beetle Paul, though well loved, was out of tune and out of place... and how Hey Jude fitted in mystified me.
    I'm sure it was all brilliant. The British are so good at all this. I'll catch up on the replays later.

  9. Anonymous5:12 am

    My highlight? Danny Boyle telling Meredith Viera (NBC) afterwards: "It was all chickety poo." (Did I hear that right?)


  10. I didn't like the singer before the opening proper. The chimney's were terrific, the Mary Poppins's wonderful, and all those BEDS! I couldn't stay up for all of it (1 he ahead here), so maybe we'll catch-up with the bits we missed later. 9/10.

  11. I loved it, I tried to stay up for all of it, but sleep caught up with me at the start of the athlete parade.

  12. I loved it. All the little references, the children singing at the beginning, the childsnatcher, the Archers, Abide with me, the couldron all of it. The kids and I watched it from start to finish and were well pleased with it.

  13. I liked most of the entertainment but thought that many people around the world who do not know our history must have found it baffling! The forging of the steel rings was a great idea. Agree with "Helsie" Paul McCartney's voice is now beginning to show age!!!

  14. It was fabulous, loved every minute and Gary Lineker summed it up for me at the end saying 'It was bonkers and British'....couldn't agree more.
    Jo xx
    PS Yes, I did get emotional.

  15. I thought it was blimmin' marvelous, and I felt very proud to be British as I blubbed through the blubby bits and drank chammy through the remainder!

    I didn't understand the Abide with Me section, giggled at Mr Bean although it seemed slightly disrespecrful, gasped when they played Relax- a shot in the eye for Mike Read who had it banned from the radio (was that REALLY such a short time agao!) and thought how times changed that the Sex Pistols were once such rebels...

    Pleased to see Wallander looking a little less miserable.

    It was a spectacle that all ages could relate to and despite all the bickering, I have to say WE DID IT PROPER and I can't wait now til we go up to watch the dressage

    Yay for Blighty!!

  16. Absolutely brilliant, a surprise comment from an old cynic like me!

  17. Loved it. Loved the real music, by acts who'd worked at it rather than talent show chancers, loved the National Anthem being sung by a children's choir as opposed to Lesley Garret's cringemaking appearance on the Champs Elysees.

    But the best bit was the house party flying away to reveal Sir Tim Berners Lee at his desk.

  18. Absolutely loved it all (except Maccers!)Made me realise how much we on this tiny Island have crammed into a relatively short space of time. Well done Mr Boyle and well done Dizzy Rascal for summing us up so very well - Bonkers xxx

  19. I have loved it. But a thunderstorm has prevented me to watch the last thirty minutes. Love from France xx

  20. Loved the chimneys, loved the birds on bikes, thought the petals and torch were awesome but the rest was a bit muddled I thought.
    Paul McCartney.......I actually turned the tv of at that point, I just couldn't bear to watch him it made me cringe.

  21. We missed the first half, started watching when half the athletes had already entered the arena. We gave up and went to bed when Paul McCartney started - when did he get to be so wrinkly?

    I thought it was great, considering the potential for serious calamities with all those people and all the different elements - looking forward to watching the bits I missed on iplayer hopefully. The lighting of the cauldron was inspirational.
    I felt very sorry for Muhammad Ali and it reminded me very sharply that old age can be no fun and you never know what the future holds, even if you have had a glittering career of some sort or other.

  22. Well it just goes to show that you cant please all the people all the time but "Our Danny" seemed to get it mostly right. Not my cup of tea though I must admit, but at least he didn't use it as another excuse to bang on about winning "The War".

    The years of effort, pain and sacrifice the sports men and women have gone through to achieve their goal of reaching the Olympics, is it overshadowed by the fluff that is the opening and closing cereMONEY? does it cheapen there monumental efforts I wonder?

  23. Maybe it wasn't easy to televise, but I loved it - I loved the history and the literary references and I found it entertaining and imaginative. There was no way to have topped the amazing spectacle of the Beijing Olymic ceremony, so instead 'Danny' came up with something different and uniquely British. I add my bravo!

  24. Oh god, I went too bed early and missed it.... oh well, I'm sure I'll be able to catch up with it sometime.
    By the way, just saw your Rabbi sign on the side and laughed my arse off.

  25. I didn't get it at all, it just seemed to be a mix-and-match assortment of Britishisms with no discernible message apart from "Aren't we all jolly eccentric?" Perhaps I should have put on my rose-tinted specs....

  26. I loved it all John ...... Beijing may have been spectacular but I thought it got a little boring and samey, and we weren't going to compete with the billions that they spent, but last night was brilliant ...... very British, a bit barmy, loved the Industrial, dark satanic mill's bit and the the lighting of the fabulous cauldren and thought that it was a wonderful party atmosphere ( apart from Paul McCartney !!). I loved the way that it was about the young and that the seven young athletes lit the cauldren. It wasn't obvious ..... it was human, we laughed at ourselves and that is why we are so good at things like this..... touching, chaotic but great all the same ! XXXX

  27. I've only just written a review on my own blog - and having now read your own straight afterwards I don't think we're really that far apart. It was so different it'll certainly lodge in the memory longer than other past opening ceremonies - oh, I see I've already forgotten about them, well maybe apart from that flaming arrow archer in Barcelona and those 84 grand pianos in L.A.
    But London managed to produce a fun night - at least I thought so.

  28. I thought it was brilliant - missed the beginning (working) so came in at the rise of the Industrial revolution, those smoke stacks were incredible. The torch was stunning, Mr Bean was well, Mr Bean. It seemed the parachute jump made Her Majesty quite grumpy, and Sir Paul should have stayed home. But I guess we always have to have a sing-along.
    Na, na, na, na, Na na na na Hey.....

    Can't wait for the closing ceremonies - tell me please there will be Land Of Hope And Glory!

  29. "If our international guests are left with the impression that Britain is contemplative and daft, self-deprecating and clever, organised and whimsical, controlled and rebellious - then the ceremony has done its job" - Mark Easton, BBC

    And that was why I felt it to be just right, and why I identified with it personally. Slightly left-field, with a Northern character which nodded to the South East (and not the other way around, as one might expect). A great job.

    Ups: Chimneys, steel rings, musical production, I could go on....but too much to say.

    Downs (if pressed): Sebastian Coe (an unfortunate necessity), and the BBC commentary from Huw Edwards and company - pointless and sometimes intrusive, as for me the presentation needed no 'explanation'.


  30. I fell asleep and missed it all!

  31. Thought it was overall fab. Sir Paul, not fab. Punks were excellent as were chimneys, rings, bicycling doves and the music montage. Oh, and the drumming.

    Lighting of the flame(s) was a brilliant touch :-)

    Am tired here, today ;-)

  32. Loved the chimneys too, hated the loudness and confusedness of it all... loved the setting of the fire... that part was perfect.

  33. Interesting comments
    McCartney generally was a poor choice
    or so people here have said and there is some negative comment about the noise and confusion which I suspect was something Boyle envisioned.
    I am glad most people enjoyed it

  34. We enjoyed the Opening Ceremony, but it was almost ruined by the very poor commentary. NBC tape delayed the show over three hours, but they had no clue who Tim Berners-Lee was. The commentary during the procession of athletes was cringeworthy, it was suggested that one team should be told that not every team wins a medal.

  35. I liked most of it but Sir Paul McCartney was superfluous and a bit of an anti-climax!!!

  36. To me it was all too much. They chucked everything in. I hope that in Rio in 2016 they just have a colourful carnival parade and spend the unused production money on replacing sections of the city's worst slum housing. I think Paul McCartney should apply for sheltered housing and stop trying to sing. For me the best bit of the show was when the fiery rings merged together above the stadium.

  37. I have to say it left me a bit cold. I imagine it was much more heart-warming for the home town crowd, but I imagine those in the stands must have wondered what exactly was going on down there. The long shots on TV just looked like a bunch of people milling around.

    That said, I must admit the Queen's collaboration with the parachute jump won me over entirely. I don't care how big her handbag or clunky her shoes, she's a clever, fun gal and I love her now. I also thought the 100-foot Voldemort was cool, and did enjoy the recap of British music, but overall it seemed a bit diffuse. I also had to go to bed before the lighting of the flame, so I do want to see if I can catch that on the internet.

  38. I thought it was very good indeed John. The idea of going through from an Agrarian society, through the Industrial revolution and into the silicon age was brilliant and so well done. I wish the Queen had smiled and I wish somebody would tell Paul McCartney it is time he retired. Other than that - perfect. I know what you mean about Mr Bean too - a friend said she would have preferred to listen to the music without him. I do love his kind of humour, so found him funny.

  39. Alison
    I know what you mean..... some of this is "messy look" I think was down to a somewhat lacklustre tv coverage.....the filming of the nurses/monsters etc was particularly bad

  40. I agree with you, John. I think it made a change to the in your face excesses of the Chinese olympics and it will get people talking about it more (see we are doing just that!) I think that Paul McCartney's bit absolutely spoiled the lighting of the cauldron. It was such a weak drivelly ending to what was an innovative and powerful display. I actually liked Mr Bean, but I am not sure how appropriate it was. I also thought the tribute to the victims from the 7 July bombings was a bit grim and sinister - not very pleasant for their families I wouldn't think. Did anyone else think something was up with Her Majesty - she seemed very lacking enthusiasm?

  41. lily
    she's a knackered old 86 year old lady
    (and it WAS a bit late)

  42. Absolutely had to miss the first half . . . Snowdonia National Park was on Beeb two! beautiful.
    Saw the second half and cringed at Paul, sorry "Sir" Paul Cartney's singing (!)
    Good fireworks and "torches together" though.

  43. bugerlugs
    watch the mary poppins bit!

  44. Loved it! Forging the ring possibly my favourite part. And no to The Beatle, as most of the above have said. Brilliant cauldron.

    And I think Branagh looked like Abraham Lincoln. Brunel was a famously little man. Could have had Ronnie Corbett for a fraction of the price.

  45. So glad you liked it...I got my three seconds of fame on TV...I was in the industrial revolution section...and loved every moment of it...the atmosphere was electric...

  46. Having now watched the beginning on i-player, I think the green and pleasant land turning into industrial bedlam was the best bit of the whole thing. The rest was technically brilliant but rather bomkers.
    BUT I was really impressed by how professional all those who took part seemed to be. Amazing.

  47. I loved it, I thought it was original and very British. He did us proud, and I now have Olympic Fever

  48. I loved it, I thought it was original and very British. He did us proud, and I now have Olympic Fever

  49. Anonymous10:00 pm

    Hey John--I read this post the day after the ceremony but was too swamped to comment at the time. I've been thinking about it ever since though and I love reading what everyone else thought about it.
    I'm always fascinated by opening ceremonies as they reveal so much about the host country/city. For me Boyle tied together different pieces of your history that I was familiar with but didn't really "get" before. Like we had an agrarian/industrial age shift too but it's not a big factor in our national psyche the way it seems to be in yours. (We tend to identify more with the early westward expansion/pioneer/rugged individualistic part of our history.) Also, I think Britain's history is to our country kind of like what the Old Testament is to the's the first half, where our fundamental language and judicial system, etc. originally took shape. (Not quite sure where I'm going with that...just thoughts.)
    I loved the staging of agrarian to industrial (the chimneys rising felt so ominous and breathtaking) and I was kind of blown away how much of my beloved childhood reading material came from British authors. I guess I knew that but I'd never put it together before.
    But oddly, the part I found the most moving was the tribute to the NHS. So much of the propaganda over here is that Brits hate their "socialized medicine" and wish their system was more like ours. I don't think there was anything that could have gone farther towards dispelling that myth than it actually being honored in the Olympic opening ceremony! I'm so GLAD you all appreciate what you've built over there!
    So overall I loved it. And I've REALLY loved how many gold medals you're winning over there!!! Bravo and well, well earned.


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