London 2012: Olympic Stadium to be transformed into British countryside for opening ceremony

A “traditional and idyllic” view of the British countryside will greet audiences on entry to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Games.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) today announced that the field of play in the Stadium will be transformed into the rolling British countryside for the opening ceremony, which is titled Isles of Wonder.

Work has started on installing the set for the opening scene, called Green and Pleasant.

The set will include meadows, fields and rivers, and feature families taking picnics, sport being played on the village green and farmers tilling the soil whilst real farmyard animals graze – including 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep, and three sheep dogs.

Each of the four nations will be represented by their national flower – the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and flax from Northern Ireland.

To coincide with the announcement Danny Boyle, artistic director of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, paid tribute to the ceremony’s 10,000 volunteers, cast and crew rehearsing.

He said: “The ceremony is an attempt to capture a picture of ourselves as a nation, where we have come from and where we want to be.

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“The best part of telling that story has been working with our 10,000 volunteers.

“I’ve been astounded by the selfless dedication of the volunteers, they are the purest embodiment of the Olympic spirit and represent the best of who we are as a nation.”

There have already been 157 cast rehearsals for the ceremony, with volunteer performers giving up evenings and weekends to take part in 37 rehearsals at the new site in Barking and Dagenham.

At 3 Mills Studios, the production base for the London 2012 Ceremonies Team, work is being completed on 12,956 props. Staff in the costume department are working hard to produce 23,000 costumes for all four ceremonies, including sewing 24,570 buttons onto the costumes for one of the opening sequences of the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Work will soon begin to install the lighting for the ceremonies, which includes 1,100 automated lamps, 1,000 conventional lamps, 500 LED fixtures, and 32 follow spots.

This will be accompanied by a million watt sounds system using more than 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of associated sound gear.

Seb Coe, LOCOG chairman, said: “With only 45 days to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony one of the biggest sets ever built for a show is beginning to develop in the Olympic Stadium.

“With a worldwide TV audience of a billion people and a cast of over 10,000 talented volunteers, I’m sure that Danny’s ceremony will be a fantastic celebration that will welcome the 10,500 athletes from around the world and make our nation proud.”