All posts tagged 'Danny-Boyle'

Olympics shows love for NHS runs deep

by The Codgers' Club Friday, August 3 2012

by Peter Cook

I turned on the telly last Friday night fully expecting to be bored stiff by all the Olympic ballyhoo.

Instead I was completely blown away by the opening ceremony. Weren’t we all? It was a truly magnificent spectacle.

Greater minds than mine, if any such there be, have analysed the show. But too much analysis destroys the magic. It’s best to be swept along on a tide of Danny Boyle wonder.

Reaction from overseas has been mostly positive, although parts of the extravaganza must have been baffling to alien minds.

For example, a Los Angeles Times correspondent could not understand the National Health Service sequence, claiming it was equivalent to eulogising some well-known American healthcare company.

This, more than anything else I have read, demonstrated the gulf between our attitude to healthcare and that of right wing Americans, or even right wing British.

OK, the NHS frequently lets us down. We can all quote stories of when it has not lived up to expectations.

Most of the time, however, it works well. And who has not been glad and grateful for its existence in times of emergency?

But it’s Bevin’s central principle of providing free healthcare for everyone that is so important. Just think how much worry that removes from those of us who would otherwise be plunged into poverty.

OK, you can buy health insurance. But if healthcare is paid for out of general taxation, it means the well-off pay that little bit more, helping out those on smaller incomes. You would need to be utterly selfish not to see that as a reasonable ideal.

Since 1947, we in this country have taken free-at-the-point-of-access healthcare pretty much for granted. We often forget that in many countries if you can’t pay you die.

The NHS has become a sort of quasi-religion in Britain. It goes to the very roots of our belief in fairness and equality.

What Danny Boyle achieved with his NHS sequence was to demonstrate just how deeply felt is our love and affection for the healthcare system in this country, despite its many imperfections.

Politicians who monkey about with it will do so at their peril.

What we need to do now is to build a social care system that works as well as the NHS.

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Categories: Moans and groans | Olympics

Opening ceremony will be a stunning show

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, July 27 2012

After 84 months of waiting and planning, it’s Olympic bonanza time.

At least it’s a bonanza for most. Sponsors, athletes, spectators, Danny Boyle, outlets selling fish and chips for £8.50 and a 175ml glass of wine for £5.20, a pint of lager at £4.60 and a bag of Cadbury’s (the official Treat supplier) chocolate sweets for £1 - £3.

It’s been good too for the University of Kent, which expects to make £1.3m from Olympic-related hospitality. Eurostar will be bringing thousands of spectators from the continent to make up for the dip in business travel.

Soldiers drafted in to cover for the G4S fiasco (will they ever win any more government contracts?) may not be so happy. And motorists held up by Zil lane BMWs (they have sensors that automatically change traffic lights from red to green) will be fuming.

But tonight’s opening ceremony will be a great advert for Britain. I saw it in rehearsal earlier in the week and it’s stunning. For all the cynicism and allegations of left-wing bias, it’s a great show, an amazing blend of rural idyll, with cricket as well as sheep on show, and some amazing images depicting the Industrial Revolution.

And, of course, there’s the customary modern dance sequence that aims to show off Cool Britannia. A complex show involving thousands shows that it’s not only the Chinese that can do great opening sequences.

It’s easy to be critical of Locog political correctness and decisions that seem taken straight from a Twenty Twelve script. But let’s face it, the “deliverance” body (ODA), the architects, construction companies and suppliers that make it possible have done a fantastic job.

What a shame that all those Kent firms that won Olympic contracts have not been allowed to promote the fact. Hugh Robertson, Olympic minister and Kent MP, estimates that the Games have been worth more than £30m to our county’s businesses. They should be allowed to talk about it without fear of the brand police.

It’s been a great feat of organisation and leadership, especially by Sebastian Coe. What a Boys Own Hero. What a case study for business inspiration.

Despite the G4S debacle and the odd glitch over the wrong North Korean flag - didn’t the Twenty Twelve scriptwriters think of that one? - it looks as though it’s going to be alright on the night.

The security at the Olympic Park was just like Heathrow, but with plenty of military people and volunteer Games Makers around, it was reasonably quick. Let’s hope there are no incidents over the next few weeks.

The park complex is a fine transformation of derelict land - a great example of regeneration.

But let’s hear it for the volunteers. They were all smiles and eagerness to help. 70,000 are giving up their time, a lot of expense and annual leave to do it. I spoke to some of them at the rehearsal and they were so keen. They also knew the answers to questions from the public. Along with the remarkable Torchbearers (the relay was a great show too that enthused a nation), they are the real heroes of these Games.

I hope I can live up to their example when I’m a Games Maker at the Paralympic Games.

Let the show begin - and savour the next few weeks of sporting achievement that most of us will never see on our doorstep again. And, if it helps tourism and encourages inward investment, as David Cameron desperately hopes, it’s all good for GB Plc and its dynamic Kent subsidiary.

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Categories: Olympics

Time to sort Gold anthem

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Tuesday, March 6 2012

The first nationwide countdown to London 2012 started over the weekend.

Music Nation saw more than 100 live events across the UK and featured more than 10,000 people and 18 new works.

It was a cultured start to the festivities, but I have just one question – where’s Spandau Ballet?

Log onto the official 2012 website and they’ll tell you all about the must-haves: the parade of athletes, the speeches, receiving of the head of state, the oaths, the anthems and the raising of the flags. All grand stuff and traditions that should not be missed.

But what we really want to know is how the Olympic Cauldron is going to be lit (who can forget Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo, who shot an arrow into it at Barcelona 1992) and who’s headlining the big bash.

There’s been plenty of speculation, but nothing’s been confirmed, although Sir Paul McCartney did reveal he was in talks to do “something”.

What we do know is that film director Danny Boyle, who’s leading the creative team, pans to incorporate a 27-ton bell, nurses – to celebrate the NHS – and 900 children among a cast of 15,000.

What I want to see is someone back flip their way down the stadium, land on a trampoline and somersault their way over the top of the cauldron, lighting it with their outstretched hand as they fly over the top. And all to the strains of Spandau Ballet belting out “Gold” from the top of a London bus.

You cannot have an Olympics without them. Ever since the BBC used it in their coverage of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, you can’t watch an athlete run around the track without inwardly singing, “Cos, you are gold (gold); always believe in your so-oul, you’ve got the power to know, you’re in-de-struct-able, always believe i-in......”

Amazingly, it only got to number two in the UK singles chart, pipped to the number one spot by KC and the Sunshine Band’s Give It Up.

So now’s the time to put that right. Get Spandau Ballet to number one and have them perform at the opening ceremony. It’s about time the rest of the world had that song buzzing around their head all day, and not just us.

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Categories: Olympics

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