Recently, @Ford put out a call for all those employees, agency/contract as well as retirees with a connection to the Olympics, Paralympics and Senior Olympics. Over the coming days, @Ford will share our Blue Oval Olympian stories. Click here for the first installment, which includes an Olympian’s parent, a drummer, a diver, a long distance runner, and more.
Below is a report from Ford’s David Brighton on his experience in the Olympics’ opening ceremony.
Oscar-Winning Director Danny Boyle came on the radio and said they were looking for men for the Olympic Opening Ceremony – no artistic talent required. “You fit the bill perfectly,” says my wife, so I applied, confident of my ability to dad-dance as badly as the next man.
Summoned to an audition at an East End film studio I felt like I'd stumbled into a students' union. I wasn't quite the oldest person there but when we started talking Olympics there were few who remembered Seb Coe in Moscow let alone Mark Spitz back in 1972! I wasn't going in completely cold as I'd had lessons in jazz hands from my colleagues at Ford and to my surprise I was called back for a second audition. This was as a drummer, doubly surprising as the last time I'd picked up a drum was, er, never. The run of surprises ended when I got mailed saying, “Thanks, but don't give up the day job.”
Months passed, and I'd almost given up musing on what the ceremonies could have been if only they hadn't screwed up the casting, when I got a call saying that if I could start straight away, I had a place in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Two days later, after cancelling my summer and begging time off for the 23 rehearsals, I was at my first session at a secret location in a disused car plant next to the A13 in Essex. I was playing catch-up as most people had already been rehearsing for a month - good job I wasn’t a novice then.
I can't reveal the details of the Olympic ceremonies. This is partly because we've rehearsed our bits in isolation, but mainly because, if I did, Danny Boyle would hunt me down and do something painful with my non-disclosure agreement. I can say that the vision of a green and pleasant land is both green and pleasant and I think it was a truly memorable show. As for the costumes, there were no inflatable Beefeater suits as my colleagues had hoped, but suffice to say I won’t be wearing it down the pub.
The role also involved marshalling the athletes during through the parade. Apparently they are wont to stray off course and dilly-dally. We were told we could only use stern looks as a means of control. Any incident with an athlete could result in our Prime Minister apologising to their Prime Minister!
Rehearsing in the stadium at night, with the 1 megawatt high-fi as accompaniment, is positively breath-taking – it was an incredible experience. If you’ve seen my TV debut, in front of 4 billion people, listen for the 499 “boshes” followed by a single “bash” then spot the old looking guy in the inflatable Beefeater suit!
Story submitted by David Brighton