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BBC to make Opening Ceremony films

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Roger Mosey | 10:30 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2012

This is a summer in which it's just one event after another. From the Jubilee and now into the Euros, with Wimbledon and the Open Golf just around the corner - before we get to the Olympics at the end of next month.

Of all of them, we can predict that the biggest television audience globally will be for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Statistics should always be treated with caution, as I've mentioned here before.

But on July 27th we can expect an enormous live international viewing figure, with getting on for three-quarters of the world's population seeing something of London's ceremony in news bulletins and subsequent replays of the key moments.

So that's why there's such a lot at stake in Danny Boyle's direction of the opening celebrations, about which we've been hearing today.

From the initial "Isles of Wonder" concept to today's disclosure of the pastoral scene that will welcome spectators, we can see the outlines of what's being planned - but there's no avoiding the fact that a lot will be at stake on the night.

That struck me forcibly yesterday as I looked at Olympic Park from a vantage point in Canary Wharf and could barely see it through the rain and murk.

Of course, the Opening Ceremony is organised by Locog and it's Danny's creative vision.

It will be transmitted globally via host broadcast operations. But here at the BBC we want to support as best we can the moment when the United Kingdom presents itself to such a massive audience.

Danny Boyle and model of the set

Danny Boyle surveys a model of the set being built in the stadium

That's why we're announcing today that the BBC is being designated as the "London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies Featured Film Producer" and we'll be contributing two short films to the Opening Ceremony.

I'm not going to give much more away because we want there to be some surprises on the night, however much giddy speculation and rumour there is beforehand.

But Danny Boyle will be using film and other media to supplement the action in the stadium and pretty much the first thing viewers globally will see is a piece of film made by BBC Drama.

That doesn't mean it's a drama: simply that we're using the in-house department most used to doing a specific type of filming. Then another short film will appear later.

The BBC will be involved in the ceremony in other supporting roles too because as the national broadcaster we think it's right that we should support the UK's representation of itself - and, quite simply, we want this to be a great progamme for British viewers to watch along with the the rest of the world.

We've no doubt that opinions will vary about the extent to which that succeeds, but this is one occasion when sitting on the sidelines isn't an option. It's a challenge for the creative sector to show what Britain can do, and we're ready to play our part.


  • Comment number 1.

    I hope that things improve as you now even have managed to transfer Seb Coe into Danny Boyle on your photo
    A BASIC mistake

  • Comment number 2.

    It's to be hoped that the BBC coverage steps up a notch after the appalling transmission that was the Diamond Jubilee.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Roger,
    Glad to see that your preparations for London 2012 and all its features are so well advanced. What are your plans when this summer's riots kick in?

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh no, not again. Just how toe-curlingly embarrassing will it be this time?

  • Comment number 5.

    Caption under the photo is incorrect - Danny Boyle is the second from the right.

  • Comment number 6.

    After the BBC's appalling coverage of the Jubilee, I'm dreading this. Frankly, I don't the BBC can or should be trusted.
    Post Jubilee, I feel the time has come for the license to be scraped and those that want to watch Fern Cotton and celebrity culture unfolding at historic events can pay for it. I can't image the queue would be that long.

  • Comment number 7.

    After the carcrash of the Flotilla - hopes have faded

  • Comment number 8.

    Why don't people wait until after the Ceremony to decide whether they like it or not? No wonder he Aussies call us whingers!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Are you going to follow your Jubilee approach, by having 1 film about Olympic logoed sick bags, and the second about those born on the day?

    Surely they could have found a proper broadcaster to produce the films, rather than lower their standards to using the BBC

  • Comment number 10.

    Please, please don't have John Barrowman in it...

  • Comment number 11.

    Re car crash of BBC pageant coverage.
    Dare I mention that the BBC's most feared competitor BskyB is generally rated to have given good coverage, so what's all this nonsense about Sky's monopoly of the media? Seems the monopoly is with the BBC and look where that has got us......

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm looking forward to the Olympic coverage and hope that any commentary will be well researched, well informed and well presented. Please remember that viewers do have a longer concentration span than the average goldfish. The recent unhappy precedent of the river pageant coverage must be put to one side.

  • Comment number 13.

    The point here is that BBC Drama are producing two films for use as part of the ceremony - (so Jubilee comparisons are irrelevant) - I know you some of you chaps are commited BBC/Olympics -sceptics but try and focus on the actual story...

  • Comment number 14.

    Give the Beeb a break, covering something as tedious as a bunch of boats bobbing along a river at a snails pace, transporting a tourist attraction on her birthday when it's raining can't have been easy. I'd struggle to think of anything remotely relevant or interesting to say about it after ten minutes as well...

  • Comment number 15.

    Picture corrected.

    Meanwhile, it's nice to have some new contributors to the blog - even if they appear a touch monothematic... But we've covered Olympics for television since 1948, so we'll be maintaining the traditional values - free to air for tens of millions of viewers.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dear Beeb, With all your power and influence - please don't let Sir Paul McCartney 'sing' more than one song at the end - Just tell him the programme has overrun on the telly time! :')

  • Comment number 17.

    Are the BBC showing the Olympics? It's not as if they've been giving it undue prominence and shoe-horning it into every news bulletin no matter how tenuous the association for the last couple of years. I mean, you don't see them banging on about the torch relay every day while other broadcasters largely ignore it do you? Oh, wait, hang on a minute...

  • Comment number 18.

    "Isles of Wonder" why they did that?

    Love a good laugh! Can't wait.

  • Comment number 19.

    Let us just hope that the BBC's coverage etc will be better than the rubbish they presented over the Diamond Jubilee celbrations

  • Comment number 20.

    I can't believe the amount of negativity here. When did we turn into such a bunch of miserable whiners? I'm even doing it whining at the whiners. Come on Britain, get a grip! Where's the old spirit we used to have?

  • Comment number 21.

    Come on. Look ahead to a feast of sport and a great celebration of the Olympic tradition. Onwards and upwards so to speak.

  • Comment number 22.

    Re 15 - free to air??? Do you realise how sanctimonious you sound? Just to remind you that the BBC is funded by a compulsory license fee (or tax). People expect quality when they have to pay for it and this is exacerbated, rather than diminished, when the payment is mandatory.

  • Comment number 23.

    The sad negative people on here really make me sick....the Olympics are coming, the BBC will do a great job and I for one feel really proud of our country. The rest of the world can never understand why the British are always putting themselves down so much !!

  • Comment number 24.

    I agree free to air is meaningless particularly by applying DRM by the back door and encrypting the EPG to limit recording.

    Last Olympics bbc coverage could be sumarized as too much talking heads and not enough action. I will be watching it on Eurosport.

    I dare you to put Fern Cotton in the films.

  • Comment number 25.

    @trevorjharris in #24: you'll have up to 24 BBC channels full of Olympic action in 2012.

    @Greg in #22: I believe we do deliver quality - whether it's the Proms and Today or the Six Nations and Horizon. In polls, people in this country support public service broadcasting.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm somewhat perturbed by My Mosey's interventions here. Frankly, trying to defend in any way the utter mess the BBC made of the jubilee is staggering. I heard Mr Yentob on R4's Media Show trying to do the same.
    Mr Mosey - please accept that you made a hash of it and the people that pay for it - ie: me, are not willing to accept this dross.
    Can you reassure us that the BBC output of the Olympics won't be, as I fear it will be,a politically correct, celebrity driven, unfocused, poorly researched, poorly presented mish mash.
    Whats the story here? It's the Olympics - not the presenters. I couldn't give a monkeys about Ms Cotton or that laddy Jake Humfry - bring back Mr Dimbleby.
    The world's eyes will be on us - don't muck it - again.

  • Comment number 27.

    No doubt the BBC will fill the coverage with 3rd rate personalities rather than treating it as a serious event. I've lost confidence in the BBC coverage after the fiasco with the flotilla. I hope some other media organisation covers it in a serious way or the BBC shows it on one of its 24 channels uninterrupted so I can watch it where it where hasn't been dumbed down.

  • Comment number 28.

    English Countryside 2012. Where's the 600 new build homes and townie campsite?

  • Comment number 29.

    Maybe I'm the only one but I'm really looking forward to the opening ceremony and from the details in this article I think it will really surprise people what Danny Boyle and his team have come up with. It was a good decision to get a film director involved from the outset as he should have a good sense of how to create something spectacular on this scale.
    My only concern is having Paul McCartney sing. While that seemed appropriate for the Jubilee as it reflected the various acts that have been popular during the Queen's reign I think the Olympic ceremony should showcase Britain as it is now and looking forward. Not harking back to someone who was popular 50 years ago.

  • Comment number 30.

    @26, 27: We announced our presenter line-up at the end of last year, and it hasn't changed -

  • Comment number 31.

    I am sure the the BBC will give good coverage to the Olympics, including the opening and closing ceremonies. But, as the puerile coverage of some aspects of the Diamond Jubilee showed, the BBC have become complacent, maybe arrogant, not only with its poor coverage of the Jubilee, but its apparent reluctance to accept it made a right mess of it, despite large numbers of complainants. Mr Mosey, don't swamp your coverage with 'D' list celebrities, who know little, and offer even less to the event. Drop the arrogance with your, 'The BBC knows best' listen to the public for once.

  • Comment number 32.

    The BBC has lost its way in terms of TV presentation. The sound recording in studio settings is particularly sloppy of late. Besides this, the Olympic Opening ceremony is yet another misrepresentative, idealised and wholly ridiculous view of what the UK is actually like today, it beggars believe anyone would recognise the theme it conveys. An utter waste of licence payers money too, just like the £180,000,000 squandered on FA television rights.

  • Comment number 33.

    Those who attack the BBC have the right to their view but I don't understand why some want to "have a go" all the time. The press generally are looking for constant trouble with the Olympics but unfortunately for them the venues have been built on time, over 6 million tickets have been sold and Team GB might win a few medals. Too many good news stories for some?

  • Comment number 34.

    Archimedes Screwed - I'm not sure why you're describing the content of the opening cermony as a waste of licence payers money.
    It's being paid for by LOCOG.
    The BBC role is to broadcast it to its audience and to produce two films, for which it is presumably being paid by LOCOG.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh dear. There is growing confusion here. For those of us without tickets to Olympic events we shall be relying on good TV coverage to enjoy world class sports. Mr Mosey quite rightly defends some excellent Olympic coverage from the past. That was then.
    Expectations are high and the ways in which the Jubilee pageant was presented trivialised something watched by millions; possibly the same millions who will be watching the Olympics on TV.
    I am looking forward to informed and insightful presentation of a major event. As the BBC announced their presenters on 2nd December last year I am assuming that they will all be busy making sure that viewers get good value for their (licence) money. In addition I hope that the broadcasting dimension of the Olympics will be something that will augment the high standards of the ways in which we present the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to the world.

  • Comment number 36.

    Generally the BBC does a brilliant job and, ignoring the monopoly etc, we really should be grateful (have you watched TV in other countries?). The problem is that we have become used to such high standards. I was totally baffled by the BBC's failures during the Jubilee weekend, especially the River Pageant, but also the Concert as well (who's idea was it to run the credits over the end of the firework display?). It would be a big help if the BBC would simply apologise for a massive error of judgement by the management, and not try to pass this off onto the hapless studio presenters. Hopefully everything will return to the customary superlatives for all future major events...

  • Comment number 37.

    So, 4 or 5 weeks to the Lympics and the BBC Director is spending his afternoon blogging. I hope, for your sake, your time is well spent. If, as you claim, it will be world class production values and professionally presented by knowledgeable people, I will be the first to congratulate you Mr Mosey. Until then, I reserve judgement.

  • Comment number 38.

    the BBC isn,t putting on the opening ceremony only transmitting to the world.
    Its going to take place enough of this whining get used to it and embrace it.You might be surprised

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Roger,
    I commented on a few blogs back in March asking about whether the BBC were going to waive the licence fee for Olympics events in local communities - I'm still chasing the answer and wonder if you've got any further.

    We are looking to put on events to gather the local community to watch the opening and closing ceremonies and have a community fun day on Super Saturday with the Olympics being screen in the background. We want these to be free events and ideally would like to not have to organise a licence just for these events.

    I know last year the licence fee was waived for the royal wedding to encourage community groups to gather and celebrate a major occasion in British history - the main Olympics events would seem to me to fall into the same category of historic moments for our nation.

    I'd be grateful if you could get back to me on this as we are fast approaching the opening ceremony!

  • Comment number 40.

    @danpooley in #39: the guidelines are here

  • Comment number 41.

    free to air for tens of millions of viewers.
    Please dont patronise us. ITV and Sky News are every bit as free to air as the BBC, but they didnt turn the national celebration of the Jubilee into a world wide joke.

    The least the BBC could do is show some humility following recent events, given you dont have the guts to apologise

  • Comment number 42.

    If there is someone else I ought to be asking this question please feel free to point me in their direction...


  • Comment number 43.

    Not too surprised the Jubilee coverage has shaken peoples faith in the BBC's ability to cover the ceremonies. I'm sure it'll all be fine in the end but you only have one chance to get this right so must take note of the feedback from previous ceremonies and the events last weekend and allow the pictures to tell the stories, instructing all commentators to keep their input to an absolute minimum. The general feelings about Huw Edwards after Beijing and Delhi have been ignored so if you're not changing the personnel, you have to at least instruct them not to ruin the event.

    It's no good the BBC just passing off complaints by pointing out people can watch without commentary on the red button as the vast majority will watch it on BBC1 and actually want some input from commentators, but at the appropriate points, not a continuos running commentary.

    As for the ceremony - I wish they'd kept today's announcement under wraps really. It's frustrating as I really do want to know what it'll include, what the cauldron will look like and how it will be lit - but know full well that the more I know the less I'll enjoy it on the night.

  • Comment number 44.

    P.S. And on the "celebrity driven" topic I've read an interview today about the BBC signing up Davina McCall as a presenter for the Olympics and her saying how she'll have to bluff her way through some pieces about cycling. Now I'm assuming her role is in some kind of build-up programme and not within the games itself, but after jubilee sick bags I think such things need clarifying.

    P.S. A Twitter amnesty for the fortnight would be great too.

  • Comment number 45.

    @Brekkie in #43 and #44: Davina is not a presenter for the Olympics. As I said earlier, we announced our line-up at the end of last year and it hasn't changed.

    As for Huw Edwards, I know we're not going to agree - but we thought he did a great job in Beijing; he won a BAFTA for the Royal Wedding coverage; and some critics thought there should have been more of him around the Jubilee. So I have every confidence in his role for London 2012, and he and the production team will aim to deliver something that works equally well for this different style of ceremony.

    On the revealing of details - I agree with you, but in practical terms the building of the set would have been visible (not least from the air) so probably better to have a 'controlled' announcement?

    @danpooley in #42: that is the official guidance...

  • Comment number 46.

    I just checked the link you posted and seemed to get through to the One Show.

  • Comment number 47.

    On my final posting here, I'm looking forward to the Olympics. It really ought to be a wonderful spectacle and has the potential to wonders for the UK.
    However, from the BBC's point of view, you have a huge responsibility. Someone suggested that the BBC isn't putting on the opening/closing ceremonies and of course that perfectly correct.
    Neither did they put on the River Pageant, but the general consensus is that they made a mighty mess of it. I sincerely hope that lessons have been learned. It seems that I'm not alone in being fed up of celebrity culture. The Olympics have nothing to do with this and therefore so called or self styled celebs have no place in presenting the Olympics. I'm sorry to see, however, that the One Show non entities have been lined up already. Oh Dear.
    It's my opinion that if the BBC haven't learned from past errors - rather mistakes - the British public won't forgive them on this occasion. If the BBC keeps making the same mistakes, something has to change - fundamentally.
    It's my opinion that the BBC are constantly pandering to the lowest common denominator and seems to take pride in dumbing down wonderful opportunities. At the Olympics, the BBC will be drinking from the last chance saloon.

  • Comment number 48.

    I look forward to the opening ceremony and the BBC's coverage of it. The BBC can cover big sports events exceptionally well, and the presenters and commentators of Olympic sport - such as Jill Douglas, John Inverdale and Steve Cram - are first class and provide real insight.

    I do have concerns however that the interests of genuine Olympics sports fans will be secondary to making the coverage (supposedly) appeal to the broadest audience possible - and in effect be presented in a fashion that revolves around lightweight features, social media interaction and the continual reporting on how the nation is watching The Games.

    The big British sports (e.g. athletics, cycling, rowing etc) should be covered with the same attention to analysis and informed discussion from an expert team as is the norm with football. As can be demonstrated from the response to this blog, there are a great number of people (probably the majority of viewers for The Games) who want the sport to be covered in serious manner.

    I appreciate this is a unique event and the need to cater for a wide range of BBC viewers, but what can you say Roger to re-assure sports fans that the BBC coverage will deliver informed discussion and analysis of the sport (& Britain's success!) at the heart of its coverage - second only to the live action?

  • Comment number 49.

    I know it's only red button but it's well known the 5 Live alternative commentary is fairly popular - but I doubt anyone wants Moyles in the corner of their screen. It's another example of television unnecessary attaching a celebrity to an event which just doesn't need it.

  • Comment number 50.

    49. I think the popularity of the Chris Moyles commentaries would prove you wrong. As was shown at the World Cup, there was a huge audience in terms of viewers/listeners.

    On your second point, it DOES need it, as the normal BBC commentators are nigh on unbearable.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Tim2012 in #48: we'll aim to cover the Games to the same standard as we've done for more than 60 years. Sport comes first, second and third!

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi - re the opening ceremony. Still taking in the fact that our contribution to Olympic history is an opening ceremony consisting of grass! Brilliant, inspired. Is it later going to be entered for the Turner prize?

    Sorry to be a tad cynical but I've just seen on TV that we may also be blessed with a rendition from the Sex Pistols. I am moved beyond words....

    If I have to watch grass grow for an hour listening to them squawking away in the background I shall simply turn the set off and change nationality.

    Thank goodness that no one has suggested Morris dancers!

  • Comment number 53.

    I hope that the communications companies are taking note of the blackouts on the webcam.
    I live in North Durham, near Consett. The webcam was out in all the North Durham areas, until you got to Durham.
    Today I have been trying to watch the North Yorkshire cam, and missed the whole of North Yorkshire, through the Moors. It's not to do with how many other people are using their mobiles, as the torch was on the train and the torchcam was on the bus. It's been out for most of Scarborough, too. What it means is that the North East does not count as far as the mobile phone companies are concerned.


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