Facts You Didn’t Know About The London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Before I start, this BuzzFeed article had 50 amazing facts to it. 50! That on it’s own highlights what an incredible job Danny Boyle did back in 2012. Here we’ve picked our favourites ahead of tonight’s Opening Ceremony in Rio.


1. According to Danny Boyle, the link between all of the segments in the opening ceremony is “the idea that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.”

2. Nearly all of the 10,000 performers in the opening ceremony were volunteers who rehearsed in their spare time and had no previous dancing or acting experience.

3. The bell you hear at the very start of the ceremony was made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which is the oldest manufacturing company in Britain, dating back to 1570.

4. The bell is inscribed with the words “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. These words were read at the ceremony by Kenneth Branagh, who was playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Olympics / youtube.com


5. Relatives of notable suffragettes were invited to be in the audience for the sequence.

6. The pause during the Industrial Revolution sequence is supposed to reflect all wars in all countries throughout the world, not just World Wars I and II.

7. A team of performers were underneath the rings when they collided, and there were concerns that they would be burnt. They were told to shake the embers off.

8. If it had rained, the flames falling from the Olympic rings would never have happened.

9. For the next sequence, “Happy and Glorious”, in which the Queen met Daniel Craig, Danny Boyle and his team were planning to cast a double if the monarch said no.

10. The Queen agreed before Craig did, due to complications in his schedule.

11. They managed to film the Queen sequence at Buckingham Palace in two takes, in the room where she normally meets prime ministers.

12. The Queen was not supposed to say anything in the film, but she asked if she could.

13. The Queen and Bond were originally supposed to land in the stadium itself, but due to concerns about the overhead wires, Boyle decided they should land outside.

14. A BBC documentary on the Olympics claims that health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was then the culture secretary, wanted to reduce or cut the NHS sequence entirely. A spokesman for Hunt denies this and says that he was only concerned about the show’s length so that people would get home safely

15. Nearly all of the volunteers for the NHS sequence were doctors and nurses. Many had gone straight from night shifts to rehearsals.

16. During the ceremony itself, nine patients from Great Ormond Street children’s hospital were invited to appear on the hill in the stadium and watch the sequence.



17. The giant house in the middle of the stadium [above], was also inflated seconds before the sequence took place. A second house was made of foam.

18. When Tim Berners-Lee was unveiled under the house typing on a computer, words saying “This Is For Everyone” were published on his Twitter account.

19. There were great concerns that the Athlete’s Parade was going to be too long because it cannot be rehearsed.

20. The drummers from the Industrial Revolution sequence became marshals and were asked to bang to the drums to keep everyone moving.

21. The tote bag the mother carried when she opened the door in the “Thanks Tim” sequence was the same pattern as the outfits the marshals wore during the Athlete’s Parade.

OBS / Via youtube.com

Courtesy of Jamie Smy

22. The confetti that fell when Great Britain marched out was in 7 billion pieces, supposed to represent every single person on Earth.

Afp / Getty Images

23. Each of the 204 countries that participated walked out during the Athlete’s Parade with a copper petal. The petals were then secretly taken underneath the middle of the stadium to be attached to the Thomas Heatherwick-designed cauldron afterwards.

24. The cauldron had to be extinguished not long after the ceremony so it could be moved to the edge of the stadium for the athletics, but a flame was kept in a miner’s lantern and the cauldron was then relit by a torchbearer from the 1948 games.

25. The cauldron sequence was rehearsed many times in middle of the night so it wouldn’t be spotted by volunteers and newspaper photographers. There was a no-fly zone imposed above the stadium during testing.

26. Overall 27 million people watched the opening ceremony in Britain. More than 19 million people were still watching the ceremony passed midnight.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Incredible performance. Incredible backstory. Simply magical, Rio has a lot to live up to tomorrow evening. If you dream of putting on a performance anywhere close to the magnitude of Danny Boyle’s masterpiece, then look no further than our Production courses here at The Sheffield College. Click here for more.


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