I’ve just finished watching the Olympic Opening ceremony on Sky Plus, as last night I had to watch the pictures without sound, while I was hosting LBC’s Olympic opening ceremony programme. Why no sound? Well, because the BBC had the broadcasting rights, we were not allowed to be in the stadium or give a running commentary. Instead we had to describe anything after they happened, not while it happened. I have to say it was the most challenging programme I have ever hosted. We were on the balcony of the MWB Sky Bar which overlooks the Olympic Stadium and the entrance to the Olympic Park. It got particularly interesting just as I was about to start at 7 when the technicals all went awry and I had to start dry, with no intro, no jingle and no news bulletin. The perils of outside broadcasts, eh! And then after twenty minutes the heavens opened and I found myself broadcasting with a very moist back and sitting in a puddle of water. Not nice.
OK, so what did I make of it all? Was it, as the Tory MP Aidan Burley put it, a load of leftie, multicultural rubbish? Or did it represent Britain at its finest?
It was certainly a spectacle, and overall it reminded me of a giant West End musical. I kept thinking ‘Les Mis’ during the Industrial Revolution scenes. Musically, I thought it was fantastic, especially in the early part. The music montage bit later on was absolutely superb. It held my attention and I enjoyed the passage through various aspects of our more ancient and then contemporary history. You could quibble with some of the things Danny Boyle chose to depict, but that’s what it would be – a quibble. Overall it hung together and at times it was visually astonishing.
I had my reservations about the whole thing beforehand. I thought it might be buttock –clenchingly embarrassing, but my fears were misplaced. It was quite the reverse. OK, I thought the NHS section was a bit odd and went on too long, but if that’s my worst complaint, it’s a very minor one. Actually, strike that. It isn’t my worst complaint. That accolade goes to Sir Paul McCartney. Dreadful. Awful. Out of tune. Leave the stage. Now. Having said that, I’ve never liked him or his music.
Last night I speculated on his well this would travel internationally. Bearing in mind there was a worldwide audience of more then 1 billion it seemed a little odd to include some very esoteric Uk-centric references. For a UK audience there was something for everyone, but would people in Seoul, or Delhi or Singapore have understood references to Michel Fish or GOSH? Perhaps it didn’t matter. No doubt tomorrow papers will report how the world viewed it.
Something which many people probably didn’t know is that US TV didn’t carry it live. I was bombarded by emails from people listening to LBC in the USA complaining that NBC weren’t showing it until 00.30 our time.
So as you can see, I certainly don’t agree with Aidan Burley’s analysis or opinion. But that’s all he offered – an opinion. The way the world has descended on him you’d have thought he’d suggested a slaughter of the first born. Yes, after his previous misdemeanor (the Nazi salute) you might think he’d be more careful in venturing to offer controversial views via Twitter. We do actually have free speech in this country and it’s not yet against the law to offend people. Burley may be a fool, but that’s all.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it and it got the Olympics off to a cracking start. Now let’s collect a record haul of medals!
And perhaps Aidan Burley can get a life.