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London 2012 Festival takes centre stage

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Roger Mosey | 18:46 UK time, Wednesday, 20 June 2012

When we started the BBC 2012 website many moons ago, we were counting down on the front page to three events: the start of the Torch Relay; the first day of the London 2012 Festival; and the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Well, after today it's two down and only one to go.

The torch is almost half way through its journey and the festival is officially under way.

I'll be christening it in what's expected to be a suitably rain-sodden British way in Stirling tonight, when the BBC will be broadcasting the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in a project that unites some of the world's best musicians with young people from a tough part of town.

It's another inspiring story in a year that is already showcasing great performances and the human beings behind them.

It seems like the festival itself has made huge strides from the little-understood "Cultural Olympiad" with which the arts contribution to London 2012 began.

People understand the idea of a festival; they like the events that offer free tickets and it's another way in which the whole of the UK can feel part of the Olympics.

There will be something near you and it has a decent chance of being good - or in some cases, to use one of the favourite cultural words, "extraordinary".

Here at the BBC we've long supported the Cultural Olympiad and now the London 2012 Festival across many of our platforms and services. And the best is yet to come.

Picture of girl rehearsing for Simon Bolivar Orchestra concert

Rehearsals ahead of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra concert in Stirling

That may sound ambitious considering the critical success of "Britain In A Day", but after the Simon Bolivar Orchestra's concert in Scotland we move to London for Radio 1's Hackney Weekend - the biggest event in the station's history, and probably the most star-studded line-up for any concert in the world this year.

Then from July 13th there's the BBC Proms season, which again promises global talent and incredible moments, and live every night on Radio 3.

In drama, the highlight of the Shakespeare season will be the BBC's epic films of the 'middle histories' - Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V - which are coming soon to BBC Two.

And our London season, about our capital's history and culture and people, has been drawing appreciative audiences with Julien Temple's film celebration of the city another likely high-spot.

Many of these events will be on the BBC Big Screens - our official Live Sites partnership with Locog, city councils and other partners.

Stirling is a particularly good example because there'll be a live relay to the Big Screens ahead of the BBC Four broadcast later in the evening.

This commitment to the arts is designed to complement the sport we're looking forward to from the end of July, and it's part of the simple promise we made: we want to offer something for everybody inspired by London 2012.

Most people will thrill to the 100m final, but if you don't, there's Barenboim or Hiddleston or Rihanna.

Or best of all - try something new, and see if you enjoy it. This summer is about opportunities that may not come by again.


  • Comment number 1.

    The Cultural Olympiad doesn't seem to have had much attention of yet, and indeed as someone who has followed the games build up very closely I didn't know of this "Festival" until I saw a report earlier, and didn't know it was UK wide until I read your blog. Does seem though to just be regular events tagged with the London 2012 logo rather than anything of particular note.

    And how popular are these Big Screens - can't think of anything worse than trying to watch something in a town square packed (or possibly not) with other people when you could be in the comfort of your own home with full control of the remote!

    P.S. I think you need a word with The Sun - Reggie Yates now another "presenter" of your coverage. There seems to be some crossed wires somewhere. I also don't get why Team GB feels it needs 12 "celebrity" ambassadors, like Reggie Yates and Davina McCall - as we all know the true ambassadors of the games are the athletes - Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington, Jess Ennis etc. etc. etc.

  • Comment number 2.

    Brekkie: Reggie Yates has been announced some weeks ago as one of our reporters for the Olympics -

    On the London 2012 Festival, this amazing concert shows the potential of the idea:
    I'd particularly recommend the last hour; or, if you don't think you like classical music concerts, the last 10-15 minutes.

  • Comment number 3.

    Roger sorry to bother you with an off-topic question but please can I ask you about John Inverdale, is he going to be the stadium atheltics presenter on television? Just because from the press packs it only refers to him presenting the rowing. Thanks.

  • Comment number 4.

    Agree with you David,John Inverdale is class, head and shoulders above most presenters, lets hope the press packs contain errors.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes, John will be covering the athletics as well as the rowing.

  • Comment number 6.

    Great news, cheers as ever Roger.

  • Comment number 7.

    Roger do you think the Olympics will get similar ratings as Euro 2012? The ratings for the footy have been fantastic, literally every match has had 7 million plus viewers, England vs Italy alone averaged 20 Million viewers, i dont think the Olympics will come even close.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Opening Ceremony possibly has the best chance of the highest ratings but it's length (9pm-1am, plus a pre-show at 8.12pm, plus the BBC build up - hopefully from 7pm) means I don't think it'll match the England v Italy ratings, though still do very well - probably average 12-13m, peak 17-18m. Then again the reaction to the torch has been much bigger than most people expected so who knows.

    And Roger - is there a chance the main promo for London 2012 could debut this Sunday as around the Euro 2012 final seems the most logical point to do it just a little over three weeks out for the games.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well it just goes to show the power of football, i always thought the Olympics and the Football World Cup would be the top 2 Sporting events, but i think the Olympics is surely relegated to third behind the World Cup football and the Euros!!

    Come on BBC get your finger out, and give us some more live Football!!! Radio 5live have got live rights to all the big football tournaments, yet BBC TV are scraping the barrel, the Euros is their saviour!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    The point about the Olympics is it has high audiences from first thing in the morning to last thing at night over 17 days. So no, I wouldn't expect the same kind of peaks; but the highest overall BBC1 share and hours performances in recent years have been for Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

    Brekkie in #8: you may not be wrong there, and I'd keep your eyes peeled from tomorrow for a flicker of what's to come.

  • Comment number 11.

    Roger have got any comment regarding the Guardian article

    BBC's Olympic rights under threat from new TV deal

    It seems with most Sporting events the BBC is keen to share the rights with other broadcasters, it seems like the olympics are going the same way, which is a shame because no one does Sport as good as the BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ahh the old chestnut:

    BBC insiders say that it is desperate to hang on to the Olympics, recognising their value as the sort of major event that binds the country and burnishes its public-service credentials. But it is also operating on a tighter sports-rights budget, having endured a 20% cut in the wake of the licence fee being frozen.

    Hmmm Roger 1 of your minions has been talking to the Guardian methinks.

  • Comment number 13.

    Really hope the BBC hold the rights - and considering you put in a bid (and pulled out of) the rights for 12 Premier League games, despite ditching Championship/League Cup games as too expensive, it is one area where I hope that the BBC will pay a little more to secure a contract.

    There is talk of a similar deal to other countries where a company like Sky has the multiscreen rights and the terrestrial partner gets 200 hours of free to air coverage (100 of the Winter games), which although adequate for one channel I think after three games of multiscreen coverage BBC viewers expect viewing options during the Olympics.

    P.S. Is there a list anywhere of the Freeview boxes which will carry the BBC Sport app?


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