23/08/2012 13:17 BST | Updated 23/10/2012 06:12 BST

This Wondrous Isle

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

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,


Olympic Opening Ceremony