Ed Balls and Strictly Come Dancing
Chris reveals Ed Balls as the first contestant for Strictly Come Dancing 2016. Ed tells us how he's preparing for the highly anticipated celebrity dance competition and how he's kept it a secret with his wife Yvette Cooper. Mike checks in with Beth Peaty, sister of Team GB's first Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Adam Peaty. Plus we catch up with Vassos who's live from Rio, he gives us the lowdown on all the Olympic action over the weekend and what we can expect today.
Chris' Pause for Thought: Jim Harris
Art Historian, Dr Jim Harris
Anyone who watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday saw something extraordinary: thousands of the world's greatest athletes, after four years of training and self-denial, finally in the moment when they get to compete and exercise the skill and prowess that stems from an absolute commitment of time, energy and effort.
Now, in other news, while those athletes were finishing their final training sessions last week, I was on the beach. Mind you, this was not a sun-kissed, Mediterranean beach with warm water and a bar. No. This was a beach facing the cold North Sea on the long, low, bleak sandbank called Holy Island or Lindisfarne. You can’t drive to it. There’s no shelter. Everything you need you must carry. It is, in other words, perfect - but it's the sort of beach that takes commitment.
Frankly, just being on Holy Island, when the wind whistles in from the north and the east, takes some commitment. It's hard to believe that fourteen hundred years ago, some Irish monks actually chose to live there, in community, worshipping together and, more importantly, serving the people of the north.
St Aidan founded a monastery on the island and used the money given to his church to feed the poor and buy back the freedom of those sold into slavery. His example of commitment to both people and the environment they inhabit reflected a God who loves justice and whose creation is not a jumble of parts, but a whole thing, a unity: sea, mountains, beasts, fields, trees, humanity, all rejoicing together. It’s the God we read about again and again in the Psalms.
Which brings me back to the Olympics. The dedication of the athletes wasn’t the only sort of commitment that the ceremony touched on. The 12,000 trees of 208 species given to the athletes to plant, the low-emissions cauldron for the Olympic flame, the poem that Judi Dench read, by the great Brazilian poet, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, all gestured towards the need to commit to re-making a world that St Aidan and the psalmist would have recognised.
The Olympics are one of the very few occasions when, for a moment, the whole world looks in the same direction. I reckon it can only be good if when we look, we catch a glimpse of something better.