Last night I had dinner with Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry who between them are responsible for the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics (Stephen is in fact responsible for all the ceremonies and Danny specifically for the opening ceremony).
They are two of our greatest film makers – responsible respectively for Billy Elliott and Slumdog Millionaire – and it was fascinating to see how they are coming to grips with possibly the greatest creative challenge the country has ever had. I say that not from a desire to exaggerate, but simply because the opening ceremony is likely to be watched by four billion of the world’s seven billion population.
They are still in the very early stages, but I was encouraged by what I heard: Danny talked about a ceremony which was both spectacular and “with a heart.” Both were acutely aware of the challenge of presenting Britain’s remarkable history, its vibrant cultural present and its future in a way that manages to make us proud without being in any way jingoistic. In other words tapping into that sense of understated British pride which we all intuitively understand but find it hard to put our fingers on.
Seb Coe and Paul Deighton, Chairman and Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee, were also there. They are right to have chosen film makers for this epic challenge – it will need someone with an eye for what will look good on TV screens across the world. Stephen and Danny are the best we have and so if anyone can pull this off they can.