Sunday, 10 August 2008
HOW I MISSED THE BEIJING OPENING CEREMONY (clue: I waited for highlights on the BBC)
I'm afraid I missed the opening ceremony from the Beijing Olympics. Or the next closest thing: I watched the BBC's edited highlights package that evening at 7pm. It opened with a five minute intro to Olympism by British medal heroes Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, and Michael Johnson (?) then proceded to a barely 20 minute edit of what was probably the most spectacular opening ceremony in history. Full credit to the Chinese, and the IOC: totalitarianism has always been the best way to go for Olympic games (which reminds me, it was nice to see that old Francoisto, HRH J.A. Samaranch, in the VIP section, enjoying the largesse).
The ceremony made up about half the edit, followed by the entrance of teams, which included Iraq, at which point the Chinese proved they have a sense of humour by cutting to the King of Iraq, George Bush, as the Iraqis entered. Thanks to the BBC for leaving that bit in! They showed the US team, but not the moment when the flag-bearer passed the reviewing stand, to see if he'd dip it or not. They also bothered to show the Australians (though not the Kiwis, Canucks, South Africans, or any Europeans apart from Greece, who march in first) because of that strange masochism that seems to annoit Aussies as honorary Brits unless they're actually winning the Ashes or the rugby, or whatever.
Having cut the actual ceremony short, we were then treated to the aesthetic reactions of Colin Jackson and Sharron Davies, which reminded me of the celebs drafted in to comment on the Macy's float in the Thanksgiving parade 'I hear they spent $2 million on it, Colin, nice intit?' followed by exciting highlights from the earliest of the Olympic events.
Now call me crazy, but I would have thought that to please your 7pm audience, which would have a high concentration of those non sports fans whom the Olympics usually attracts, and who prefer the ceremonies to the sport, you would've shown AS MUCH OF THE CEREMONY AS POSSIBLE and as little of the sporting stars trying to become commentators, much less the relatively minor events scheduled before the opening ceremony. I'm a pretty big sports fan, but I still wanted to see AS MUCH OF THE CEREMONY AS POSSIBLE.
I've worked at nine Olympic games. Favourites: Montreal and Barcelona, Lake Placid and Sarajevo. Least favourite: Moscow and Atlanta (the Moscow of the South). I regretted missing Lillehammer. I'm pretty blase about ceremonies, especially after watching all the rehearsals while I worked in the Coliseum in LA, but I will confess the closing ceremony in Barca was suitably OTT. But I did catch a couple of minutes of the Beijing ceremony live in passing, and was actually looking forward to seeing more. I remember over the years missing the volleyball final because Britain's show-jumpers will be in a seventh-place playoff match, or suffering through ancient athletics commentators telling me what a lovely shot some ten foot gimme is in basketball (in fairness, John Amechi provides some good analysis in this year's tourney--though the edit of the USA-China game oddly omitted the bit where the lead changed hands in favour of the US extending their lead), but I really did expect that the opening ceremony would be fitter grist for BBC highlights mill.