London Olympics: 10 points about the opening ceremony

By Claire Heald
BBC 2012

Image caption,
Danny Boyle's ceremony has a "green and pleasant land" theme

With less than 48 hours to go until the real deal, final rehearsals for the Olympic Games opening ceremony have been held.

The contents, like the stadium, are under wraps, so what can we reveal about it?

1. Even in the Twitter age, you can keep a secret.

When details of the opening ceremony started to leak out at the beginning of the month, in the press and on the internet, Olympic Games organisers Locog had a brainstorm, then a brainwave: Bring in the demographic most likely to be unable to contain the information and make it a matter of national pride with a #savethesurprise hashtag. It was broadcast on the big screens throughout the rehearsal.

2. In the land of the Pantomime Tradition, the 80,000-strong audience are up for participation.

Sure, there's the excitement of being part of the crowd, they will have wanted to be here and paid up to £2,012 for the privilege. But they're prepped by warm-up instructors, involved, intrinsic to what takes place.

3. Directors as trailblazing as Danny Boyle can stick to the adage of "leave the crowd wanting more".

At the dress rehearsal, some planned gaps were left in the programme. If you read every article, scoured Twitter, interrogated anyone who was there, surprises - such as how will the cauldron be lit? - will remain come "curtain up".

4. He uses smoke and mirrors, light and shade.

There are dark parts in these Isles of Wonder as he said there would be, on his journey from green and pleasant land through to industrial legacy.

5. Tasking a film director with an Oscar-winning pedigree (for Slumdog Millionaire), brought rave music and film together with Trainspotting's soundtrack and live theatrical staging for Frankenstein makes a stunning mash-up of live performance, film, and gig.

6. Danny Boyle said he would be honoured if his ceremony was compared to Sydney's "people's Games" and it is populist in its casting, using volunteers, but with pomp and punk.

The NHS element, with real-life nurses, is there. And it feels very British. But it is still an "opening ceremony" constructed in definite segments.

7. The 204 competing nations will parade, as is non-negotiable in an Olympic opening ceremony.

Each team following their national flag - which, fingers crossed, should be right on the night . A small number of athletes, including those from South Sudan, will march in under the IOC's Olympic rings flag. It will take 1 hour 29 minutes.

Set to Underworld's mix of music of many beats-per-minute, in the hope that the athletes will step to it.

8. LA84 opening ceremony, you can keep your jet pack flying men.

Beijing, hold fast your stadium wall-walking gymnasts . The cables that span the rooftop and were included as part of the stadium build for celebration ceremonies are used to great effect.

9. It's a £27m "spectacular". And it is an aural and visual treat.

At times, it smells great, the lights are fantastic. But, at time of writing it is still not a sell out, with tickets in the £2,012 and £1,600 price bracket still available.

10. Maybe it was the evening stadium breeze, maybe the anticipation of what's to come in the sporting arena during the next two weeks.

But in living rooms across the country, turn on the surround sound, fire up the massive TV. And grab a jumper. There are goosebump moments. Throughout.