Beijing shown the best of British
AFTER 16 days of faster, higher, stronger, the Beijing spotlight will today turn to louder, prouder and cooler as the Olympic baton is handed to London.
The organisers of the 2012 Games will unveil their blueprint for the "cool Olympics" with an eight-minute slot at the closing ceremony in China, aimed at showcasing British rock, glamour, culture and sport.
Rock legend Jimmy Page and singer Leona Lewis will lead the way with a new version of the Led Zeppelin classic 'Whole Lotta Love', while footballer David Beckham will also make an appearance alongside Team GB.
The set will begin after London Mayor Boris Johnson receives the Olympic flag in an official handover ceremony, and starts with a red London double-decker bus driving around the Bird's Nest stadium being pursued by Team GB cyclists Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade.
Bill Morris, London 2012's director of ceremonies, said they were not aiming to try to match Beijing in terms of scale at the handover ceremony but that the approach would be "simple and creative".
Morris said: "We will take a London approach and will be different. Our approach is to keep it simple and creative, to make it youthful and diverse, entertaining and fun. It will be London, UK, loud and proud."
A 30-strong cast have been rehearsing for two weeks for the 2.5m show, at a private airfield outside Beijing.
Three dance groups will also be involved. They are the Royal Opera House, including Deborah Bull, who has come out of retirement specially for the event, street dance theatre group ZooNation and CandoCo, a company which specialises in mixing performers with and without disabilities.
After the flag handover, the national anthem will be sung by the National Youth Theatre, and then the bus and the cyclists will appear.
A 10-year-old girl from east London, Tayyiba Dudhwala, who was chosen in a Blue Peter competition, will emerge to receive a football from a Chinese girl, Erika Tham.
The bus then transforms itself and Leona Lewis is to emerge from the roof on a rising column dressed in gold and singing an R'n'B aria. Page will then appear and the first riffs of 'Whole Lotta Love' are to blast out, sung by Lewis.
However, some changes have been made to the song's lyrics, leading to speculation that sexual innuendos were dropped over fears they could cause offence.
In the original, the second verse states: "Way, way down inside, honey, you need it." But this is to be omitted for the closing ceremony. In another line in the third verse "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love," singer Lewis is to swap the words for "every bit" of my love.
Towards the end of the song, David Beckham will be handed the football and will kick it into a crowd of athletes, many of them from Team GB, in the centre of the field.
The bus will then head out of the stadium and TV coverage of the event will have a live link to the handover party outside Buckingham Palace.
Morris admitted he was stunned by the scale and spectacle of Beijing's opening ceremony but said he was not overawed.
He added: "I can genuinely say I did not feel a sense of nervousness that we had to follow that, because London brings other things and it will be a different place and a different time."
Martin Green, London's head of ceremonies, said the key was not to "try to rebrand London in eight minutes".
He said: "We decided to go for a short, sharp shock, something contemporary that celebrates everything that London is."
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe admitted that the handover slot was a tough ask but believes they will pull it off.
He said: "We are not going to win over everybody but it is something that will appeal both to younger generations and to more mature generations such as myself.
"I just love the version of 'Whole Lotta Love' that he and Leona Lewis have done.
"We have been respectful when we have needed to be and I believe this will really show what we can do in London with the talent we have."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west