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Jim Thornton

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This Wondrous Isle

Posted: 24/08/2012 01:00

When I sat down to watch the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, I did so reluctantly, and with a terrible sense of foreboding about what was about to be unveiled.

Even though it had been masterminded by Stephen Daldry and Danny Boyle, two of our greatest ever directors of stage and screen, we don't have a great track record of staging these big showpiece events.

And after seven years of meddling politicians, sponsors, politicians, LOCOG and more politicians, it was hard to believe it wouldn't end up another cringeworthy mess like The Jubilee Concert or every Brit Awards ever. It turns out that what I was expecting was the closing ceremony.

The opening ceremony, on the other hand, was quite simply a revelation.

For the first time someone had produced a vision of Britain I not only recognised, but of which I was extremely proud. A Britain that started in 1948 rather than ending in 1945. A Britain that wasn't reliant on pageantry, Churchill, the Empire & the '66 World Cup final as the sole representations of its accomplishments.

A Britain that was created not by celebrity, Royalty, the military or any elite, but by ordinary, nay extraordinary, working people. A Britain for which the soundtrack is drawn from, and inspired by, all generations and genres, not merely thrown together after watching a few episodes of Top of the Pops 2.

A confident Britain. A proud Britain. Above all, a Britain able to laugh at itself and its institutions whilst at the same time celebrating them.

As a production it was nothing short of mesmerising. If it did nothing else (and it did plenty) it showcased the very best of British stagecraft. It was brilliantly choreographed yet felt entirely spontaneous and unstructured. It was wonderfully performed yet featured only a handful of professionals. And it moved from one showstopping set piece to another with barely a pause. It was humble and humbling, imaginative, daring and so, so beautiful.

Best of all, it was truly of the people, by the people, for the people.

It felt to me like Danny Boyle had given Great Britain a very personal gift, a vision of us as a people that reminded us just how Great we can be. It felt like he'd wrestled our cultural and creative heritage back from those who for the last 30 years led us to believe that being creative with money was the be-all and end-all.

The 2012 Opening ceremony lit up the world, then lit the torch for an Olympic games in which the athletes themselves emphasized all the virtues of hard work, team ethic, community, family, humility and excellence that were celebrated in the opening ceremony.

It made me more happy and proud and optimistic than anything I could ever remember. It represented all of the things which make me proud to be British, and none of the things that make me ashamed.

So just as Danny Boyle gave us a very personal gift, the memory of which will last a lifetime, I'd like to give him a personal gift in a similar vein from all of us. A book containing photographs of each person's interpretation of what makes this isle wondrous to them.

It's going to be called 'It's From Everyone'. We kicked it off via Instagram and Twitter three weeks ago and so far have over 1,212 photos posted on Instagram, and many more submitted via Twitter. You can see a lot of them here at http://www.thiswondrousisle.co.uk/

But if it's to truly be from everyone, we need everyone to contribute.

It couldn't be easier: simply tag a photo that sums up what makes this isle wondrous to you with #thiswondrousisle on Instagram, on Flickr, or on Twitter and we'll do the rest.

And of course, if you like the idea, please, please tell your friends and spread the word.

It's a daunting task we've set ourselves, but we like to think that if Danny Boyle showed us anything, he showed us there's no limit to what we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

Thank you,
Jim

Loading Slideshow...
  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Team GB, led by flagbearer Sir Chris Hoy, enter the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Chris Hoy of the Great Britain Olympic cycling team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Actors playing nurses perform during the

    Actors playing nurses perform during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Performers during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The Olympic Rings during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Aerial view shows the people parachuting

    Aerial view shows the people parachuting (upper L) above the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

  • Actors wait for the beginning of the ope

    Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a traditional view of the English countryside during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

  • PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Acto

    PICTURE TAKEN WITH A ROBOTIC CAMERA Actors wait for the beginning of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIN THUILLIER (Photo credit should read ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sheep graze during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    A game of cricket is played by performers during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor tends sheep during the pre-show prior to the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Guitarist Frank Turner performs during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Cricketers play cricket on the pitch during the preshow prior to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • Actors stand under the rain during the B

    Actors stand under the rain during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Danny Boyle speaks during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor walks during the British meadow

    An actor walks during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors play cricket during the British m

    Actors play cricket during the British meadow scene prior the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    The scene during the pre-show before the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Fans shelter from the rain during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • Britain's Prince Charles, left, and his wife Camila, Duchess of Cornwall arrive for the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Industrial workers in a scene during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Q

    An actor dressed to resemble Britain's Queen Elizabeth II parachutes from a helicopter over the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Giant puppets depict villainous characters from British literature during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

  • Actors playing nurses attend to children

    Actors playing nurses attend to children in hospital beds during the Great Ormond Street Hospital scene in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Str

    Actors and dancers play Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital staff and patients during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: A general view of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a view of the Industrial Revolution during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • London Olympic Games - Day 0

    Sir Kenneth Brannagh recites Shakespeare during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: David Beckham passes under Tower Bridge driving a speedboat named 'Max Power' which carries the Olympic Torch with its torchbearer on July 27, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. London plays host to the 2012 Olympic Games which will see 26 sports contested by 10,500 athletes over 17 days of competition. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

  • 2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Children representing the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the NHS and children literature take part in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London

  • London Olympic Games

    The history of Great Britain played during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London.

 

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