Film director Danny Boyle brought the world to a standstill with sheer creativity of his spectacular Olympics opening ceremony.
The master stroke had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood production – from the £27-million pound budget to the horde of stars who came out bear witness.
But the show”s success with the 20,000-strong cast, culled from the very people who make British society function on a daily basis. NHS nurses, doctors, social workers and the stars of the future were all given their chance to shine.
To underline the point, the show”s theme, borrowed from internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee”s guiding principle, was beamed to the world, telling them: “This is for everyone.”
In this exclusive report, ! Online meets the men and women who helped the Oscar-winning film maker realise his dream of creating the people”s Games.
Gary Connery, 43, is the parachuting stuntman who was Queen’s body double for her inspired debut as a Bond girl.
“The Queen“s role in the opening ceremony was the best kept secret of the entire show.
“Thanks to Danny Boyle, she agreed to the entire concept without a second thought – she even had aides lend me her favorite black handbag so that the stunt would be as authentic as possible.
“I also met with her dresser Angela Kelly, who worked with the costume department to make me a replica of the outfit she had chosen for the night.
“We did test jumps in the small hours to keep things top secret. On opening night, everything was timed to the last millisecond to coincide with the pre-recorded segment with Her Majesty and Daniel Craig.
“The moment that I opened my parachute and the crowd realised something special was happening, I could hear them roar even from a height.
“People forget the Queen is only human. She leads such a guarded life and I think she relishes the chance to laugh at herself and show that she has a very British sense of humour.
“Personally, my excitement was mixed with fear and anxiety that came from a desire to do her and the job justice. But in the end, I pulled it off!”
Adelle Tracey, 18, is a sprint star in waiting. She was nominated by her mentor Dame Kelly Holmes to be one of the final torchbearers who lit the cauldron.
“Instead of using famous names, Danny Boyle wanted something symbolic and profound. When Sir Steve Redgrave approached us with that flame he was literally saying: “I”m passing the torch to you, the next generation of athletes.” That was the message.
“Me and the six other nominees were very nervous, we had to light the gas on our torches and deal with some minor technical issues. Once that was out of the way, we made our way to the cauldron and lowered the torches in unison, igniting the flame.
“The wall of heat was intense and I had tears in my eyes. My mum was two rows away, watching me, and I could see her and felt connected to her.
“It will be difficult to top that experience. The only thing that could beat it would be qualifying for the next Games in Rio de Janeiro – that’s my next step.”
Adam Dalton, 30, is an education worker and performer who took part in the pivotal Industrial Revolution section, which introduced the dazzling Olympic rings.
“The Industrial Revolution scene was supposed to represent the people who built the Olympic rings. It involved almost every member of the cast in some way.
“We were all engaged in the moment, and, when I looked around from my place on the main stage, people were just in tears.
“Of course we didn”t actually build the rings, but after months of rehearsals and effort, it felt like our work. I was blown away.
Health care assistant Tiago Bravo, 32, is one of the real life National Health Service (NHS) workers who volunteered to celebrate this very British institution at the Games” inauguration
“Sometimes, there is a sense that the NHS isn”t as respected and appreciated as it should be. The Olympic opening ceremony addressed that.
“I performed alongside doctors, nurses, psychologists, and when we depicted the delivery of a newborn, of bringing life into the world, it was so beautiful.
“I felt so proud to be part of this great British institution. Afterwards, we all went out into the streets on a high, still in our uniforms.
“The party atmosphere was incredible and we all bonded. I”ve made friendships that will last for life.”
Kate Popham, 33, a PR director from London danced in the homage to the Internet’s founding father, Sir Tim Berners Lee.
“I was a Seventies dancer, wearing a Ziggy Stardust-inspired costume! The atmosphere while we performed really was thrilling.
“You can”t tell from the broadcast coverage, but a lot of the cast were singing along with the music.
“The LED lights on every seat looked amazing, and for those of us performing they were a saving grace as they blocked out faces in the crowd. I think there”d have been a few more cases of stage fright if we’d been aware of the 80,000 people watching us live.
“Danny Boyle was an inspiration to us all it gave us a boost that an Oscar-winning director was willing to stand outside in a car park in Dagenham (at rehearsals) in all kinds of horrible weather conditions to watch us dance – it showed us that we were the show – not just the unpaid extras!
“It”s incredible that the volunteer performers were complete amateurs and yet we staged an entirely professional ceremony and that’s something that will stick with us forever.”
Breakdancer Olivia Daniell, 24, explains the dark side of the NHS segment.
“My breakdancing “dementor” character”s role was to scare the children in a nightmare section when they go to sleep. This scene included other scary characters from famous children”s stories such as the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and, of course, Voldemort from Harry Potter.
“Eventually we were scared away by dozens of Mary Poppins who descended from the sky.
My particular role was very intense and you have to go full out, so I was 100% focused on what I was doing. It was almost too much to take in really.”
Shaun Botterill, 45, is a photographer who heads up Getty Images” specialist team. He captured all the magic on camera.
“I had been given a very tight brief and was assigned the task of capturing images in 3D, which meant that I could only shoot certain things that would translate well onto camera.
“I was grateful for this as it gave me more time to watch and appreciate the actual show. I noticed the attention to detail on the costumes and props throughout the ceremony was absolutely incredible; more so than any other Opening Ceremony I”ve seen and this is the 12th Olympics I have shot – literally no stone was left unturned.
“It was also a very humorous show,– it was definitely the funniest ceremony I”ve covered, and the organisers did an incredibly job in pulling such a universally appealing show together.”
Interviews and report: Andrea Maltman