Paul Saville, client services director at brand experience agency Ignite London, reviews the Olympics Opening Ceremony, which drew a UK TV audience of 26.9 million.
In the words of Lord Coe ‘One day we will tell our children and grandchildren that when our time came, we did it right’. He couldn’t have been any more precise in his description.
Please take a bow Danny Boyle for creating a show so wonderfully apt, surprising and inclusive that it surely must have silenced and swayed the sceptics. For me, it signalled that London really is ready for the Games. This was not about showing off, this was an awe-inspiring yet humbling salute to our nation’s rich and eclectic history; there really was something for everyone, a celebration of all things that make our nation proud.
From the get go, the show was clearly designed to celebrate and involve generations past, present and most importantly future. The final breath-taking moment of the ignition of the Olympic cauldron was proof of that, with the inspired choice of entrusting the breath-taking task to our next generation of Olympians. We were told that London 2012 was always about the legacy and there could have been no better way to kick it off.
The opening scenes of rolling countryside were serene and understated, forming a living and breathing tableau of the British Isles, before the stadium transitioned into a multisensory history lesson, fusing fairy-tale and fantasy to recognise some of our nation’s greatest achievements. The spectacular transformation of the stadium through the Industrial revolution, in particular the forging of the molten Olympic rings was a personal highlight.
The show embraced popular British culture from children’s literature, film, music and technology. It was involving of the audience, with 3D glasses and handheld LED pixels that turned the stadium into a living and breathing video screen. The music was a magical playlist, a celebration of our rich history of musical brilliance; it was the sound track to most of our lives, which I will shortly be downloading from iTunes.
The use of Mr Bean, James Bond and in particular the tongue in cheek entrance of the Queen was hilarious, inspired and for me, only underpinned the inclusive nature of event. There to, could have been no better way to end than a sing-a-long to Hey Jude with Sir Paul!
There are few things that you can fault. The athlete entry sequence may have been a bit long, but there isn’t much that could have been done about that as there are lots of them. Arguably the narrative in the opening sequences may have puzzled an international audience, but the dynamic execution more than made up for that.
This wasn’t necessarily the most flamboyant show on earth, it didn’t have to be. It was however perfectly befitting of the occasion, it was diverse, vibrant, cosmopolitan and true, and will no doubt have made the nation, as it has me, feel very proud to be British.