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The time for making decisions has arrived

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Roger Mosey | 10:16 UK time, Thursday, 22 October 2009

Here in the 2012 project team we meet countless programme-makers and outside bodies who have proposals about the BBC's Olympics coverage in 2012.

It's a hugely enjoyable part of the job, and almost every day we come across a new thought with potential. But inevitably some ideas crop up more than once.

When I was first dealing with this a couple of years back in BBC Sport the most common pitch was "let's follow a bunch of young people, help train them and then see if they win gold medals in London 2012".

It was usually in the form of a reality show or observational documentary, and it was fine except for one thing. The world unfortunately isn't like that.

Kelly HolmesKelly Holmes won two golds for Great Britain in 2004 after years of training

The people who'll win gold in London will already be in the national team and they may well have made the final or semi-final of their event in Beijing.

The top athletes don't emerge from nowhere, as Kelly Holmes or Steve Redgrave or Chris Hoy will testify. So there's certainly some merit in following the hopefuls - and our Olympic Dreams programme has been doing that - but it isn't possible to convert complete amateurs into medallists in a six-part series for Saturday nights.

Now the most frequent idea we're getting is to do something that will climax in the Opening Ceremony on the 27th of July in 2012.

Could the nation's best amateur dancers shimmy their way into the Stratford stadium? Or prize-winning choirs might sing, or could we somehow involve the brightest and nicest set of young people who've done most in volunteering for their communities?

Many of the proposals on these lines have a lot of merit, but again there are some real-world facts that apply.

First, the ceremonies are run by the London organisers - and they're currently looking for a creative director to lead the planning. His or her vision will be crucial.

Second, at least one promise has been made already - that some of the nation's seven-year-olds will be there.

Last Choir Standing winners Only Men AloudShould prize-winning choirs perform at the Opening Ceremony in 2012?

But third and most important, this is the biggest of all global moments.

A peak-time show in the UK is doing incredibly well if it has 10 million viewers. This event has one hundred times that with a live audience of one billion made up of people in China and Paraguay - who need to find the ceremony as comprehensible as the folk back home in Chester and Plymouth.

So the amusing dancer guys from Britain's Got Talent may not quite hit the mark. Nor will everyone agree with the lobbying on Facebook, but it's possible that for us and for the organisers there's an idea of pure gold that's just around the corner.

And what's giving our team a surge of energy now is that we're entering a period when we're making real decisions.

For a long time we were listening to views, getting the outline plans in place, setting off down interesting avenues of exploration about what London 2012 might mean.

We're still doing some of that but now it's also about saying "yes" or "no" and starting to tackle the detail.

Inevitably that means disappointment for some if their project isn't one that gets the green light; but it also means we can see the shape of what's actually going to happen more clearly.

That's true every single day, and in my next blog I'm aiming to say more about that - as we pass another big milestone on the Olympic journey.


  • Comment number 1.

    The Red Arrows doing some kind of flyover has to be part of it - maybe flying over the stadium at the countdown to 'zero' at the beginning of the ceremony.

    Obviously traditional British cultural dance (the dancing sequence from China & Athens was excellent), so bring out the Morris Men & the Ceilidh Dancers. Throw in a Welsh Male Voice choir because that will make the hairs stand up on the back of everyone's neck.

    The ceremony will need to have a theme that does link back traditional British history - from Richard the Lionheart & Braveheart through to Queen Vic; the second phase needs to relate to the melting pot of British culture showing how the Empire brought the world to the UK and brought people from every corner to make London the multi-cultural city it is.

    Add in the parade of athletes, official opening my Her Majesty and the lighting of the flame by Sir Steve (let's face it - he's got to be odds on favourite) and then we can get down to it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely an event like this should only be opened by London's very own Dizzee Rascal...
    Woss up darlin'?!

  • Comment number 3.

    Does this mean getting rid of shopping/+1 channels on freeview so we can show the Olympics 2012 in all their glory

  • Comment number 4.

    I think they should do a map of the UK with dancers/singers from each area. The olympic flame is lit when the red arrows fly over

  • Comment number 5.

    I hope that whoever sings "God Saves the Queen" at the Opening Ceremony does a spectacular job with it. In 2000, at the opening ceremony in Sydney, "Advance Australia Fair" began with local boy band Human Nature, followed by Julie Anthony and a choir. Julie Anthony is to "Advance Australia Fair" what Whitney Houston is to the "Star Spangled Banner". Hopefully, London will have something similar for the world.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have a dream... Paul, Ringo and the sons of John and George will sing God save the queen... and the last flame into the hand of Sir Steve

  • Comment number 7.

    Is it London, England, or London, Britain that is being represented?

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks as ever for the comments.

    Captainlazytim in #7 - it's a good question. The ceremony is run by London as the host city, so it can choose what it represents.

    Hyperstar in #3: we're working on a distribution plan, but our promise is that we're making all 5000 hours of Olympic sport content available to our audiences. More detail will follow.

    On the other suggestions - interesting. I know our colleagues at LOCOG sometimes have a look at this blog (I read theirs too) so you can consider everything to be duly fed in.

  • Comment number 9.

    I've read various ideas regarding the opening ceremony all of which are good. My idea would be to combine a few of them together. The idea regarding a choirs sounds good. Sir Paul MacCartney involvement is a must for us oldies. The 2012 games was won on the idea that it would leave a legacy for the young and for the future of sport in this country. My idea would be to get Sir Paul to rewrite the words to 'All you need is love' and rename it 'All you need is sport'. Get a gospel choir to sing it to a regga beat and get a bunch of seven, eight and nine year olds to dance and perform acrobatics to the music. What do you think.

  • Comment number 10.

  • Comment number 11.

    I guess the need is to focus on what the aim is:

    1. Showcase London and the UK to the world in terms of a visual and audio extravaganza.
    2. Hopefully make everyone go 'Wow!' at something, in just the way the archer lighting the flame did in Barcelona.
    3. Remembering that the audience will be of all ages, be that children, youth, young adults, mums and dads as well as grandpas and grandmas. From all over the world.
    4. Remembering that a diversity of taste will be found in that audience, so a Rolling Stones Concert isn't the aim!
    5. Linking the artistic display to the events which are to come....

    Here are a few things London and the UK have to offer:

    1. The World's Premier Pianoforte competition - the Leeds International Piano Competion, whose next cycle will be in 2012. It might be wise to find out from Dame Fanny Waterman if the next winner will be known by then or whether the 2009 champ, a young lady from Russia, might be interested in a short number? Perhaps Brazil might send their finest to compete in 2012, eh? [6 - 8 minutes]
    2. The finest oratorio ever written was composed in London, admittedly by a German, Georg Frederic Handel - the Messiah. It so happens that the astrological configuration over the world in 2012 will include Neptune at Pisces 3 and Uranus just going into Aries. What better time to transition warlike aggression into sporting endeavour and to usher that in by singing the Hallelujah chorus, eh?? You might like to sign off the closing ceremony with Amen as well...both in D Major, a nice, happy key to sing in and in keeping with a joyous celebration of youth. Choirs such as the Halle, Huddersfield Male Voice choir, probably some from South Wales, not to mention the BBC Singers could be augmented by the thousands who've jollied the night away in the Albert Hall sometime singing the whole shebang. I'd sing Hallelujah immediately after the flame is you do that might involve the Reds......
    3. The finest composer these shores have produced in recent years is Sir Simon Rattle, currently resident with the Berliner Philharmoniker, who got his chance as a young man with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. You think Angela Merkel would export him back to London for a week for a one-night reunion? I'm sure we could bung/cajole/encourage her with a gala performance at the Proms for the BP in 2013 if that would be helpful......perhaps a few numbers from 'the Water Music' might go down well to get the Canoeists, Swimmers and Sailers revved up?
    4. I'd get Elton John to sing a number -I"m not sure what, but he grew up in Watford, didn't he? Something light, something happy - he'll have some ideas, won't he?
    5. How old are the Quo nowadays? I still think them opening Live Aid was the best piece of scripting ever. Rockin' All Over the World goes down well anywhere, doesn't it?
    6. Clearly the Liverpudlian genius McCartney will be needed to revive his ailing soccer teams....'It was 20 years ago today, Barcelona told the world to play!' or something of that ilk.....they did win at Wembley in the European Cup final, after all......if he can revive some 'London 2012's Lonely Hearts Club Band', I'm sure his application would be viewed favourably.....
    7. How about some Scottish dancing: there's no limit to the numbers who can participate in that on an infield and the pipes on a glorious summer evening always go down well.....
    8. I'm not quite sure what the children of Newham should do - that's probably up to them and their teachers to come up with something, but I'd definitely want 5000 of them coming on to show the world a show.....the world's melting pot, the east end, after all......
    9. Modern dance - it's not something I know that much about, but it's always good for an extravaganza if you get really hip music to go with it......
    10. Opera - showcase Covent Garden and the ENO - please not Peter Grimes, it's really depressing! Ask Fabio Capello what he'd go for.....I"d go for something in the Magic Flute meself, but then again....
    11. The Royal Ballet - I suspect a Russian number, what with our large resident population nowadays....

    General order of service if it were up to me: get the young ones transfixed early with their kind of dance, music etc. The oldies will fondly remember their lost youth as they patiently wait for their turn. Then have the children of Newham, both to get them off to bed at a proper time but also to root the games in Stratford from the off. Then interlink the thrusting and throbbing vibrancy of male desire with the fleeting piquancy of female allure and grace before the climax comes with the lighting of the flame and the expression of joy going into the night sky and all around the globe........

    You don't need to post this if you don't want to.....but you can send it to the Mayor if you want!

  • Comment number 12.

    Can the bagpipes play the opening bit of Rocking All Over the World, by the Quo? If so, I've got a plan forming in the back of my brain ...

    Throw in the BBC Concert Orchestra (or how about a massing of *all* the BBC Orchestras) and that should sort out the musical backdrop you need.

  • Comment number 13.

    Rjaggar in #11: some good ideas and some good jokes. Trouble is, I'm not completely sure which are which. But I'm seeing the ceremonies people tomorrow so I'll make sure they consider your throbbing vibrancy.

    JordanD in #12: I was going to say "I'd like to hear it" - but then...

  • Comment number 14.

    How about an honest ceremony, where we follow the US and various other Nations around, technically in the same event, but not really competing most of the time? Or we could just find a really over-rated sprinter, put them in the middle of the stadium, and throw cash at them.

  • Comment number 15.

    Short odds on Scottish pipers, a Welsh male voice choir and morris dancers for the opening ceremony but as long the closing ceremony features the Olympic flame going out to the sound of Ray Davies singing Waterloo Sunset, I'll be reasonably happy.

  • Comment number 16.

    Chas and Dave doing a cocney melady, Pearly Kings and Queens waving to the crowd, Status Quo Rockin singing 'All Over The World', Bag Pipes playing a highland fling, Welsh Chior and Tom Jones Belting out 'What's New Pussy Cat' Danny O'donnal singing 'Danny Boy' Sir Paul MacCartney singing 'Everybody's Gone Dance Tonight' with some of the profesional dancers from 'Strictly' dancing to his music. The latest X Factor winners doing their thing. All things British including 'The Red Arrows' shown at their best. One thing that would be welcomed by lovers of London would be a group of young people singing 'Maybe Its Because I'm A Londoner'. That sort of brings us back to Chas and Dave again. What ever is chosen, I only hope they get it right, or we are going to look pritty foolish.

  • Comment number 17.

    When the countdown reaches 0, the stadium lights are turned off. For one moment, the Olympic stadium is dark and silent. Then Big Ben (which is, to be honest, our best known landmark) strikes 12 times, and on the 12th strike, the red arrows fly above the stadium trailing red white and blue. As Big Ben chimes (obviously the sound played into the stadium), the words London 2012 are lit up by flame, hanging on wires above the centre of the stadium.

    The opening ceremony has to reflect on our greatest moments of history. Nothing controversial, obviously, but think what the chinese did, celebrating their history tastefully. Find our greatest moments - sailing to the new world, crystal palace hosting the world fair at the height of the empire, the construction of the london eye, and have these wonderful images projected onto the rim of the stadium

    As for music, we need a blend of classic with modern. Something played by a string quartet as the flag goes up the flagpole will bring a tear to the eyes of the Brits. Involve the armed forces, they know how to put on a decent parade, especially for raising the flag. Maybe no goose stepping this time. I personally want the instrumental part of 'Layla' to be played by Elton John (He has to get involved somewhere) and Eric Clapton as a finish to the entire ceremony.

    Just some ideas, hope they help! Just make us feel proud to be British

  • Comment number 18.

    Just none of that years x-factor singers. We don't need some wanabee singing who in a year after the games will be completely forgotten about.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Red Arrows are the thing we do best in the world, and the most admired British institution wherever you go in the world, so they are a must along with pop music and together they must take centre stage and play a large role in proceedings. Doing the comic turns and low key stuff at the closing cermoeny in 2008 was fine but this is a different ball game.

    After the Red Arrow open up with their fly-past, We need a roundup of every all-time great British performers who are revered around the world still gigging - Rod, Bee Gees, Stones, Police, Elton - each doing a two or three mintue turn

    We also need marching bandsmen -you can't have a british sporting event without them - some sort of passing tribute to Shakespeare and maybe some sort of sketch which touches on the Blitz spirit which is the only reason the western world is still alive an kicking and able to stage Olympic games! It can be a comic turn but we ought to honour those brave londoners somwehow

    And finally we have to celebrate the London pub culture somehow - its what we are known for. Can Chas and Dave be persuaded out of retirement?!

  • Comment number 20.

    How about including 'Consider Yourself' and 'Who will buy' from the musical Oliver as you could fill the stadium with singers and dancers and as these songs are well known you could put the words on the scoreboard so the whole audience could take part.

  • Comment number 21.

    The best and most memorable Olympic Ceremony moments are usually the small ideas done on a great scale. I'm thinking

    - Barcelona and the archer lighting the cauldron
    - Atlanta and the silhouettes of the Greek athletes
    - Sydney and the young girl meeting the old Aborigine
    - Athens and the pool of water with the paper boat
    - Beijing and drummers beating the countdown and the scroll unfurling in the centre of the stadium

    I'd like to see something related to the British maritime history - maybe utilising a ship in the middle of the stadium - and how that relates to the commonwealth (focusing on the good bits obviuosly) - and then translating that to the cultural diversity of Britain and London.

    Whatever it is, we need to make sure its a new twist on something familiar. Given that the logo managed to do this quite well I'm hoping we continue in the same vein.

    Just make sure the lasting image isn't b-b-q doves like Seoul.

  • Comment number 22.

    Again, thanks for all the contributions. I agree with JamesCo1972 in #22 about the power of those kind of big moments.

    But on music - I mean, I love history and I listen to a lot of music. But in London in 2012 shouldn't we be a bit more contemporary than the 1960s and the Cockney angle?

  • Comment number 23.

    In Beijing they had a variety of culters from different parts of their history as well as being more up to date. I think with London 2012 we should all that has made Britain Great from the past to the present. From entertainment there should be famous actors/actris's from film and thearter. From music there should be music from the 50/60's up to modern times. Marching Scotts band would go down a treat. There should be displays from the world of dancing with bala and possibly a group of our Strictly profesionals going through some routines. Famous tv presenters: David Frost, Michael Parkinson and our Brucie could be wheeled round in their bath chairs. Only joking. But they could be a part of the opening show.

    As well as British sports stars that are taking part in the Olympics, we should show off some of our sporting greats from the past. Geff Hurst, Daily Thompson, if his still alive Henry Cooper, Nigal Mansel, Ian Botherm, Seb Coe himself, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Tanya Grey Thompson, David Beckham (he should be retired by then), Sue Barker and Tim Henman. There's possibly loads more that others will think of that I haven't mentioned. Most of the above are faces that the world would know and recognise from our past.

    We have so much we can be proud of in this country and they should all figure in some way in both the opening and closing ceromony's. But I think the politicions should be kept well out of the way, specially Boris. Lets show our country off to its best and show the world what we can do.

  • Comment number 24.

    Last night I pressed the bbc's red button and watched most of Dame Shirley Bassy at the Electric Proms. Most of her songs I knew, some I didn't. But there was one of her oldies that she sang that flicked a light switch and made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

    Dame Shirley sang 'What Now My Love' which was one of her old hits, but it was done slightly different than I remembered it. About a third of the way through four military drummers appeared and beat a slow marching beat to the tune of the song which increased in volume till the end. Wow. Very effective and it went down well with the crowd. I first thought it would be a great contender for the theme tune to the bbc's Olympics coverage. Then on second thoughts, the words of the song would not be compatable to a sporting event.

    I missed the first 15 minutes of Dame Shirleys concert so I don't know what she sang before I tuned in. But, I remembered that one of her earlier hits was an inspirational song called 'Climb Every Mountain'. Now if you could set that same slow drum beat to 'Climb Every Mountain', you would have the ideal music for the bbc's coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. I'm sure Dame Shirley would love to go into a bbc studio to record such an inspirational song.

    There will be lots of the worlds sports men and woman that will be trying to climb there very own personel mountain as they come into the 2012 Olympics. I also know that Dame Kelly Holmes new found hobby's and sport is mounting climbing. To acompany the words of Dame Shirley's 'Climb Eevery Mountain', you could also do some filming of Dame Kelly doing her mountain climbing and at the end show Dame Kelly collecting her two gold medals at the Athens Olympics.

    For a previous football World Cup, someone in the bbc came up with the inspirational idea of playing 'Mesen Dorma' by Pavaroti for their theme tune for the coverage of the World Cup of that year. A great success which is still spoken about today. I believe a slow drum beating version of 'Climb Every Mountain' by Dame Shirley Bassy could be another bbc success. What do you think?

  • Comment number 25.

    I know there were people from LOCOG at Dame Shirley's concert...

  • Comment number 26.

    The Liverpool Signing Choir are amazing and without a doubt should perform at the opening of the Olympics. The choir recently featured on BBC North Wests Inside Out and consists of 96 hearing and deaf children - truly amazing. Here is the link to the programme.

  • Comment number 27.

    London is the host city, but Britain is the host nation - few opening ceremonies are representative of the city alone. I doubt the audience will recall 1948's opening (probably Vera Lynn holding a sparkler), but some of these suggestions sound great for a possible 1974 opening - Shirley Bassey, Elton John, Rod Stewart and the Bee Gees (Australian)? The younger of the people suggested had their moment at Live Aid, the rest 30 or 40 years ago.
    "Without a doubt" we need a spectacle that wows or is at least visible from hundreds of feet away. Watching someone play piano from that distance is not it, as anyone who's seen Mr Dwight at Wembley can testify. THE LIVERPOOL SIGNING CHOIR? And what would David Beckham and Henry Cooper do - sing?
    Some things are timeless. British history takes in everything from Shakespeare and the Raj to the Blitz and a century of maritime domination. There's got to be some material there. Unfortunately if you make it "topical", you get soaps, Big Brother, Lily Allen, Middle East occupation and Mr Cowell's latest exploitee with a Kleenex shelf-life. No thanks.


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