THE COUCH POTATO: A great show, but the Queen brought magic
2:41pm Friday 3rd August 2012 in News
After careful consideration and much soul-searching, I now feel ready to deliver my hard-hitting review of the Olympics opening ceremony.
Wow. Just wow.
So much was so good, but it’s not hard to single out the JFK moment.
As crisps mogul and renowned TV critic Gary Lineker concluded amid his endless puns the following evening: “The Queen saying ‘Good evening, Mr Bond’ is the best television moment in history.”
A double bluff to end all double bluffs from the warped genius of Danny Boyle that genuinely had me punching the air in delight.
THE ACTUAL PROPER QUEEN!
Up to that point I’d been impressed but not overwhelmed.
Kenneth Branagh turning up as Harry Enfield to usher in what appeared to be an extended 1980s advert for McEwan’s lager was an interesting turn of events, and it was a shame to see how much Sue Perkins, on the timpani drums, has really let herself go, although Huw Edwards was referring to her as “Evelyn Glennie”.
Then four words and a twinkle in the eye from an 86-year-old woman to a bloke pretending to be a fictional spy and boom! Something magical happened.
The tone was perfect – nurses dancing to swingtime like a Dennis Potter dream sequence, Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo, David Beckham managing not to drift halfway to Holland while waiting hours on that boat, the extraordinary nations-coming-together-as-one cauldron.
And the humour was quintessentially British, from Mr Bean to some subtle crackers – kids on beds being wheeled into the arena to the theme from The Exorcist, Fiji entering to The Bee Gees, and Palestine, a nation created by the PLO, coming out to ELO.
In fact the only thing to wipe the collective smile off our faces would have been the BBC completely pitching the commentary wrong during the athletes’ parade.
And there he was, funereal Huw, sucking the joy out of the occasion: “Libya, still plagued by violence and armed militias.”
“Niger, a country grappling with drought and refugee problems.”
“Liberia, known for a long-running and deeply damaging civil war with so many people killed.”
“Angola, a country which suffers terrible poverty.”
Pass the razor blade.
Alongside Huw, Hazel Irvine was flicking furiously through her Big Book of World Facts: “Kyrgyzstan, one of only four countries whose name contains a single vowel.”
That is, until she got her encyclopaedia in a twist as early as the B’s: “Barbados’s Obadele Thompson won bronze in the 100 metres behind Maurice Greene in the 2,000 metres,” and, “Hicham El Guerrouj, a national hero in Morocco who won two golds in Athens and nowa member of Monaco’s Olympic Committee.”
Yet he remains a national hero in Morocco.
And, frankly, she can stick her “seething tableaux of people” narration claptrap where the main symbol on Kiribati’s flag doesn’t shine.
But the oddest choice was Trevor Nelson, a rabbit in the headlights too dazzled by what he was seeing, too busy looking out for members of his own family (“My cousin is in this scene somewhere,” “There’s my sister at the very back waving right now”) and just too BBC bland to make any meaningful contribution.
The Beeb almost found a way to ruin it. The only reason it didn’t was because the undeniably brilliant opening ceremony was even more bonkers than the commentary.
And, let me tell you, that’s saying something.
Thank you, Danny Boyle.
Olympic TV quotes of the week
- Gary Herbert at the rowing: “Britain are hanging on by the skin of their necks.”
- The One Show’s Alex Jones to a Korean Olympic TV breakfast show female presenter: “You’re the Welsh version of me.”
- Hazel Irvine: “A huge percentage of GB’s gold medals have come in seats in which you sit down.” (As opposed to those in which you don’t).
- BBC News’ Dan Roan: “Lizzie Armistead’s cycling silver could just be worth its weight in gold.”
- And Adrian Moorhouse after Britain failed to qualify in the freestyle relay: “Well, I don’t know what happened to the guys there. But what happened was after the first leg those poor guys were literally behind the wave from the other lanes and would have been bashed around all over the place. That would have really impacted that swim.”
So he did know then.
Olympic Couch Potato Spudulike gold medals go to:
- Every single one of Team GB’s heroic medallists.
- Chubby South African dad Bert Le Clos’s moment of selfawareness when he pulled his shirt over his belly in that hilarious and touching interviewwith Clare Balding after his son Chad won gold in the 200m butterfly.
- Mexico’s diving coach forgetting he had a flip-up chair and landing squarely on his backside.
- Gary Lineker’s reaction when Stella McCartney told him the most challenging Olympic outfit to design was: “TomDaley’s little thing.” Lineker: “Surely not!”
- And, despite my greatest fears, the total absence of the likes of Fearne Cotton and John Barrowman fromour screens. Tremendous work, BBC. Have a medal.