Danny Boyle captured the British spirit as no-one else could in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics last night with his Isles of Wonder spectacular. He took the millions of viewers worldwide through the history of our green and pleasant land via the industrial revolution and celebrated our multi-cultural present, all with a focus on our contribution to science and the arts over the centuries.
Celebrating the best of British through the ages from the industrial pioneer of Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. Embracing our national pride of the NHS and the spirit of independence in the arts, Boyle found the common ground of a nation too often divided bringing in both the Queen and James Bond to the stadium by jumping from a helicopter.
The sheer scale of the theatre was impressive, from the green lands from the middle England of the middle ages, to the transformation to teh industrial powerhouse of the world. And the Olympic rings being forged in steel before being raised and left sparking and glowing in the air, the spectacle was phenomenal.
And then there were the arts. JK Rowling reading reading Peter Pan, Evelyn Glennie leading a thuderous band of percussionists that held the rhythm of the entire show together, a comedy interlude from Mr Bean. But the music, one of our nations greatest exports was where Boyle really showed his skill. No pandering to the stale and forgettable modern pop of X-Factor, instead we had a tour de force of British music from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin to David Bowie to New Order to The Prodigy to The Arctic Monkeys to Dizzy Rascal who performed live and looke to be having a ball. We are a nation of music lovers and our music has defined eras – and Boyle celebrated this with style (see the playlist here).
The closest held secret of the ceremony was who was going to light the Olympic flame, but entrusting the future to the next generation, Olympic hero Steve Redgrave passed the flame to five young athletes who lit the cauldron together in the spirit of future co-operation. No single person represents our nation, but these young people represent our future as they took their torches.
World, welcome to London.