Saturday 28 July 2012

Well?...What did we think?

Well? The opening ceremony?
A fantastic celebration of Britishness? Or a mish mash of ideas and themes?

It would be a brave person who criticises the ceremony. Its been well received, as it must always be.
I watched it all and ... well...for me was, erm... 

I thought the forging of the rings was excellent. The rising towers was great, if a bit sinister. Branagh was terrific. I thought James Bond and a parachuting her majesty was a clever and amusing and unexpected.
But then..well..

Today the TVs and Radio are all talking about how proud the ceremony made us.
Not sure it made me proud. It wasn't the usual state choreographed, flag waving nationalism, uniform, march of history, festival of dance and military power.

It was certainly 'out of the box' thinking. Dancing Voldemort, TV shows, Mr Bean, Hospitals and some sort of phones4U number in the middle. I'm still not sure. I THINK I liked it.

The kids definitely did.

What did you think?


Scan said...

Loved Bond and Lizzy (although she looked a right miserable cow) and loved the industrial revolution section. Hated the NHS tribute and the mobile phone...err...bit. Was the flame-lighting the most anti-climactic event ever in the history of mankind?


Malcolm Tucker said...

New York Times:
LONDON — With its hilariously quirky Olympic opening ceremony, a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall, Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is.

Sounds about right..

Phil said...

Oh come on. It was fantastic. And are you really saying that the UK shouldn't be proud of the NHS?

The Queen looking astonishingly grumpy about the whole thing though.

I'm told that if you had satellite, there was a channel broadcasting the footage without the witless BBC announcer voiceovers. No such luck for us Freeview holdouts.

Phil said...

NB. The whole point of the Phones4U number bit was a) to showcase British pop music and b) to lead up to Tim Berners-Lee. Boyle highlighting that Britain was at the heart of the digital revolution.

liberalengineering said...

It was a little confused. Im not sure painting the NHS is a 'shining beacon' of our country is going to help with its already massively over inflated self righteous, sanctimonious, senses of entitlement but none the less the ceremony was different.

I cant help thinking its just a massive side show like the one put on by Kim Jong Ill in Team America. Keep the proles distracted whilst Athens is burning....

Your Government is control people, go back to sleep. Keeping paying the mortgage and the BMW finance and all will be will....

(Sorry for the Saturday cynicism)

Anonymous said...

At least no mohammedans exploded!

ThomasBHall said...

I rated it a 4.5/10.

The good:
The forging of the ring (this was very cool)
The cycling doves
The industrial revolution bit (I think)
The speed boat down the Thames
The intro movie

The bad (or mediocre):
The NHS bit- seriously?
The music 60s-90s bit
The hobbit land at the start
The number of empty seats
The "team GB" jackets (and behaviour)

The Ugly:
Continuous ramming home of PC topics- the interview with the Pankhurst descendents was particularly cringe-worthy
The female announcer's voice
The texting "love story"
The Paul Mccartny finale
The cost

Jan said...

Tooooo loooonnngg!

No wonder the Queen looked p***** off...I was also losing the will to live. (Don't forget she also had to suffer the Jubilee Thames debacle in the freezing cold and wet which was also far too long)

It may be heresy but I preferred the Chinese Beijing one. This was too bitty and disjointed. I watched until the arrival of the athletes and then gave up. They should have had the burning rings as the end.

Unknown said...

I thought it was a history of the UK from a socialist/communist perspective. We had the green and pleasant land where we were all equal - but then the cartoon capitalists destroyed everything and enslaved us. Thankfully we have redeemed ourselves with the NHS as a "shining beacon" to the world.

I would have started with Boudicca and the Romans and lead from there - but then I would have to acknowledge all the good that the UK has brought to the world.

Anonymous said...

Great Ormond Street Hospital is the thing we are proudest of from the last 2,000 years?

Shame Jimmy Saville is dead. Otherwise He could have lit the flame.

Anonymous said...

The thing that I noticed was the massive and emphasized "inclusion" of black participants.

Not however many asian faces though...

Electro-Kevin said...

The experience would have been enhanced had the Queen landed on Cherie Blair's head.

I didn't expect that Britain would find herself represented by the Bisto Family, but it was even more of a multi-culti cluster-fuck than I expected it to be.

Industrial Britain written as an evil, environmental disaster whilst Cool Britannia is depicted through rosey spectacles with no reference to muggings, shootings, litter or illiteracy.

The primary NHS raison d'etre being not to cure patients but to validate the Labour party and provide political cover for it.

The Labour party raison d'etre to change the political language and define 'center ground' way over to the left to lure the Tories into fighting the wrong causes.

Cue the increasingly creepy Paul McCartney to assist with the persistent, insidious and corrosive undermining of our Monarchy and society and the reinforcement of the pot addled, refuse-to-grow-up, rob-it-from-the-younger-generation domination by the boomer generation ...

Fuck. Any healthy kid worth his salt should be rebelling against this spoilt, sacharine filled, mahogany topped usurper - and any bald Tory worth his salt should be using this cheap rubber-doll look-alike to make having hair unfashionable.

Otherwise I'm neutral on it.

Nah. The Tories got fucked over again.

This was a Nu Labour triumph and the NHS (particularly Great Ormond Street) was used to keep the Tories in their place and to shove one up Beijing (masters of mass syncronisation, masters of the mass killings of kids.)

Worst of all young white boys have been rowed out of family life. Nowhere are they represented as worthy fathers. Least of all in this presentation.

The only acceptable interracial combination is white girl with black guy.

It is no coincidence that most of the white boys at the Olympics come from private schools.

This was a pile of Leftist crap. Not much more than a load of techno and uncoordinate raving.

Well you asked for it.

Electro-Kevin said...


Anonymous said...


Happy expat said...

@Phil: We expats were lucky that we had alternative non-BBC channels (as we did for the Jubilee river procession too).

I watched (most of) it on ESPN in HD so was able to see all the gory left wing multi-culti garbage in magnificent detail. The coloured fraternity seemed a tad over-represented (but then I suppose many/most of them came from that part of London so that is perhaps understandable). The only decent bit was the forging of the rings, which in my view should have been the climax of the show.

ESPN is a sports channel, and this is actually a sporting and not political event, and their commentators were excellent, keeping silent for much of the time and letting the pictures speak for themselves without constant irritating - and usually irrelevant or misinformed - interruption which seems common on news channels with their so-called "experts". I agree with others that Macca should be put out to grass and that spectators should demand a refund for that awful unintelligible (c)rapping twit. I further agree that HM looked all evening as though she would rather have been elsewhere. Maybe she had seen a preview and knew what she was in for, but over the years I have seen her open many events and she has invariably always without fail cheerful and smiling, but for this one she was so obviously off-hand and couldn't care less I was a bit surprised and said as much to my better half. Maybe she was trying to convey a message to Doyle and Coe.

Demetrius said...

Oh dear, must have missed it. Will there be a repeat?

Anonymous said...

I did not see any of it so I cannot really comment, with all the problems that face the economy it puts remind me what a roman said of Caeser, giving the people a circus to divert their attention, nothing has really changed in over 2,000 years, it would have been exactly the same under B'Liar and Broon. Pleased to see that some enjoyed it, others did not like it mainly for political reasons. If Dirty Des or Murdoch had arranged it there would probably have been more exposure of the feminine variety.

Winton House said...

I agree with most of the above, but it did still make me proud to be British. We were never going to be able to compete with Beijing on scale or grandeur, but we show-cased what we do pretty well.

I've poo-pooed these games through the build-up, but have come to think that with our unsurpassed ability to watch sports, it might turn out to be good.

andrew said...

yes there were bits were overrepresented(nhs)and some bits got left out (empire) and some bits got underrepresented (invention) but you could equally say that your view of the uk is different to someone elses
i liked the deliberate movement away from massed synchronised movements to a more small group loosely co-ordinated level and trying to provide the narrative at an individual level. using atkinson like that worked v well
the ring worked well and
the seed thing worked v well for me
if you want to know why the chinese are ambivalent about modern art, that is a good example.
all in all the ceremony was good but i wish the commentators would stfu

Bill Quango MP said...

Scan: Pretty much agree. I didn't hate the NHS bit, just thought it was a bit odd for the Olympics. Was waiting to see what was next. British Gas and North Sea oil? The Coal Board? A giant giro being cashed a Post Office to represent 70 years of unemployment benefits?
Not a lot of sport in our sporting tribute show.

Malcolm Tucker:All the US papers have a generous 'unique, spectacular and oddly weird show.'
Which is very fair. French press have been very complimentary too. I can't read German or Chinese so have no idea what they think.

Phil:The NHS features in modern history as the crowning achievement of Post war Britain.
Not sure it was a topic for a celebration of sporting, artistic and cultural heritage is all. Still, seeing how little I liked the music bit, given the abundance of talent and success we have in the music department, maybe the NHS bit was better.
Globally, i doubt anyone knew what the hell was going on except an extended Mary Poppins routine.

And Phil, yes I understood the digital media bit, but don't you think it was sooo like a phone advert? All they needed to add at the end was "upgrade today and get 100 free minutes and unlimited texts"
Mr Berners-Lee was the best thing in that segment.

Yes..I understood the clever double meaning of his famous "THIS IS FOR EVERYONE" flashing round the stadium. - The internet and the Olympics.
That was good. {just saying could have had a little more of that and a little less of the BT home-hub Hola ad stuff}

{And no Oasis or Blur? Spicegirls, Stone Roses, Garbage .. no britpop?}

liberalengineering: The NHS bit being political is Cameron's own fault though. He spent 5 years reasuring everyone 'safe in our hands, no more 'nasty tories'.
Within days he undid 5 years of PR with Lansley's over the top reorganisation.
Imagine Dave had told him to sit on his reforms until 2015. The Tories would be taking credit for their belief in the NHS, as showcased at the Olympics.
Silly boy, Dave.
{But yes. I did not much like that segment. Very weird choice of topic.}

Anonymous:We can only pray Munich is a thing of the past.

ThomasBHall:4.5 seems a little low for me. 6.5. But I might be being swayed by the twitternazi. To deviate from 10/10 is social death.

Jan:HMQ did look bewildered and bored. If the camera had been on her when McCartney showed up you'd hacve seen her mouthing to Phil.."Oh great..20 more choruses of Hey Jude!"

David Gillbanks:Its a tough one. The industrial revolution was oppressive. No question. Yet life expectancy and individual wealth and comfort have risen to levels never ever attained before. The top 1% of the planet. I think he was sort of striving for that. Well I'm going to say he was even if he wasn't.

Anonymous: And no Simon Cowell either? We could have texted in our choices for medal winners already.

Anon{2}:Most inclusive games ever. I did immediately think, Is this supposed to be Kent or South Carolina? But what the heck. Does it really matter? Its not history, its art.

Bill Quango MP said...

EK: So, not a fan then?
Good post EK. very amusing, I liked it.

In fairness it is the LONDON Olympics. And London is entirely multi-cultural. You work there sometimes. you know that. Now, maybe where we live in the SW 99% of the population is not just white but white English, not even colonial immigrants, the melting pot looks incredibly distorted.
In my daughters school of 80 there are exactly 1 black and 4 Asian kids.
That might represent a lot of the UK, but not London. And it would be unheard of to find numbers like that in an East London primary school.

Multi-culti may be a load of lefty crap, but is also something we have somehow managed to do as a nation pretty well. In the USA, despite the best endeavors of their mixed race families on TV for the last 30 years, its really uncommon to see mixed race couples.
I doubt there is as much inter marriage/relationships in Africa.

May not like it, but compared to many countries we are a nation of tolerant, liberally enlightened souls.

Christie Malry :Twitter is a weird place. Having an opinion outside the herd is quite dangerous. I wonder if Mr Berners-Lee , when he decided to make the internet free he would one day get a tweet from an unkown person calling him 'A F££ing commie *8ithead'?

Happy expat:No Trevor Nelson commentary? Lucky you. It was right up their with the jubilee for garbage. Even though they'd all clearly been told to keep it solemn and reverential.
And Liz didn't look too happy.
I still think one of the best bits was her with Daniel Craig.

Demetrius:You can visit the BBC shop or press the Commie Red button for all the propaganda you missed.

{ wasn't that bad. Just a little odd and a little political}

Anon: The way things are going I hope the government have stashed enough money for a whole range of circuses. Stave off the revolution for a bit.

Winton House
I really don't care for the Olympics. I only watched a few minutes of all of the China games. But its here. And people are talking, so I'm interested slightly.

On cost the opening ceremony cost £27 million and was watched by £27 million people just in the UK.

So we paid a quid each for the whole 5 hour show.

I think I got my pound's worth.

Bill Quango MP said...

Andrew very aware that its very much an individual's view. That's why i was curious to see what others felt.
On the more right wing sites its being mercilessly slammed as propaganda and brainwashing and on the left wing as a triumph of socialism.
My main concern was its a ceremony and shouldn't be either.

In our household I was the least happy with it, and I thought it was mostly OK.

It was probably the total contrast to the Chinese games that threw me.
I was embarrassed at Mr Bean. I thought, Oh, no. This is what we have come to? Mr Bean? I was fearing Sid James and Kenneth Williams lookalikes showing up next for a 'carry on running' being chased by Benny Hill and Hill's Angels.

But on reflection, so what?.

I always liked Mr Bean.

{says an ex-keyboard player who used to have to play that 5 minute note.And the repeating tubular bells sequences.}

Anonymous said...

"Its not history, its art."

It's not punctuation, either.

As for the opening ceremony, that was neither history nor art, but merely leftist multi-culti propaganda. Not surprising that the Queen looked bored and miserable.

Is this really what has happened to her country ?

Nick Drew said...

I am with TBH @ 12:54, the forging of the ring was fine, and several other strokes Boyle pulled

we shouldn't rule out that they'd focus-grouped it across the globe & knew their audience: for example, Mr Bean is quite astoundingly popular absolutely everywhere

summing up:

good - the confidence it conveyed: we have more iconic continuous history than any nation-state on the planet, plus we are entirely happy to laugh at ourselves long and hard in public (which no other major-league nation has ever dared to do)

bad - the weakness of Shakespeare: great ideas, treated brilliantly at first but drawn out artlessly and interminably, long after the point is made

(suppose that Macca had just sang The End, no more: that would have been really neat)

Electro-Kevin said...

BQ - Thanks for the response.

There is much I miss having moved from London and one of those things is diversity.

Why the regrettable representation of the industrialists in this production ?

In all honesty I thoroughly enjoyed much of it. I found the music section rather bitty and tedious though.

James Higham said...

Didn't see it, Bill but read many comments. It did seem a lefty dream to me but that's just me and a few million others.

The Beeb needs to extract the digit though.

CityUnslicker said...

My smidgin of knowledge is that Robbie Williams was supposed to sing let me entertain you at the end, but pulled out as his wife is about to drop - would have been much better than macca.

What happened to the editing, like most I found the whole NHS bit rubbish, bhut it was so long..editing that piece and it would have been amazing.

yes Beijing was better, but they spent 200 million and 200 odd people died building their stadium too - such is the pressue of a communist state.

Overall not bad, and not as bad as it could have been. Have to agree though, it was a lefty-diatribe. Perhaps more worrying is how much the twitterati etc love it - shows how left wing the Country is.

Anonymous said...

I liked the realistic representation of the typical modern British family - middle class professional black dad, pretty white mum, United-Colors-of-Benetton catalogue model kids.

To make it a tad more representative I think Dad could have left home three years ago and all the kids could have been Muslim ...

But just before the video/music/typical British family section, they should have depicted the factories being demolished and turned into housing estates and retail parks, then the mighty container ships coming from the East, disgorging their cargo of Ipods and 32" TVs into the eager hands of the population, none of whom know any more how they work or how to make one...

Guardian commenters loved it - the drug references, the lesbian kiss, the ethnic overload. The whole thing was more aimed at a UK than a world audience. I imagine the Chinese politburo will have reports on their desks to the effect of:

"According to the script, the UK was a miserable country where people worked in industry and made things. Then people arrived on the Windrush and now they dance, **** and take drugs - but they don't make anything and THEY DON'T CARE".


Anonymous said...

Forgot to say - thought the dancing nurses were infinitely more embarrassing than a morris dancing display would have been. Had a bit of a Munchkin feel to that bit.

dearieme said...

I had guessed that it might involve Popular Music so I gave it a swerve.

Anonymous said...

Kids loved it, I liked it. Was worth the £1.50 I contributed to it. Some wierd bits, but liked the crazyness of it - so non-Chinese. Would have liked more Brit showbiz and less NHS. Where was Adele, Kat Winslet, Daniel Radcliff? Industrial revolution bit was well done but too much Dickens and not at all Brunel (please do some reading on Brunel and the GWR Mr Boyle - he'd make a great film).

My kids didn't like Dizzy Rascal on it but I did! Funny that. Loved Rowan Atkinson and James Bond. Loved the mini too - made in Swindon! Would have liked to see some mad dance routine involving Dyson vacuum cleaners.

Anonymous said...

Anon - is the Mini built in Swindon? I thought it was Oxford.

Swindon = small Hondas.


CityUnslicker said...

Finalnote, aftetr the industrail revolution, the wars and the NHS in 1946 - came the era of Banking and London risin to be the world finanacil capital - funy that bit got missed out?

Anonymous said...

Panels for the mini are from the BMW factory at Gypsy Lane Swindon. They also make some panels for BMWs and allegedly Audi at the same factory (although I think Audi like to keep that quiet....). There is also a Honda factory at Swindon as you say.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it isn't just small Hondas. They also build the Honda-CRV 4 x 4 at Swindon. It is the only factory in the world that exports Japanese cars to Japan.

Both factories are doing rather well at the moment, with BMW expanding production at Swindon and Honda in a huge investment programme.

Anonymous said...

"the BMW factory at Gypsy Lane Swindon"

Is that the company formerly known as Pressed Steel Fisher, or is it a new build?

Phil said...

@anon Mini is Oxford & Swindon. Assembly is in Oxford & the petrol engines come from Brum IIRC.

@nick Mass display is always going to be a bit long and drawn out, it's the nature of the beast.

@Bill Quango. Mr Bean is *huge* abroad. I have no idea why, but that's the way it is. (Something about the universality of mime / clowning in general? I could handwave to my hearts content but I don't actually know why: it would just be speculation.)

& yes the Phones4U bit was like an advert, but I can't say it bothered me: too busy spotting all the cultural references perhaps.