The Queen and I don’t agree on a lot of things. We both love dogs, but don’t get us talking about why our young tennis players are failing to break through at international level.
Well, it looks like there is now something else for us to ignore each other over – The Paralympics Opening Ceremony.
I thought last night’s extravaganza was everything the organisers no doubt hoped it would be – visually stunning, classy and truly inspirational.
Why then did Her Maj have a face like a wet weekend in Cleethorpes as she looked down on the unfolding spectacle? Maybe she had wanted to just stop in and watch the live eviction in Celebrity Big Brother over on Channel 5 – or was suffering from Games fatigue after the Olympics?
The spread of that condition among the public has to be a worry for organisers of the Paralympics but, if the curtain raiser was anything to go by, I have another 11 days of compulsive viewing ahead.
The signs were there early on. First to ‘speak’ was the charismatic genius Professor Stephen Hawking who heralded a visually superb representation of The Big Bang, where it all started.
“Look at the stars and not down at your feet,” he said. Kenneth Branagh reciting Caliban’s speech from The Tempest while disguised as Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Danny Boyle’s £27 million Olympics spectacular seemed lightweight, not to mention confusing, by comparison.
Next up was the irrepressible Sir Ian McKellen who also had The Tempest to work with, but spoke Prospero’s inspiring words to daughter Miranda, portrayed by a wheelchair-bound young athlete suspended high above the arena. Who was second on at the Olympics? – Mr Bean!
There then followed a giant apple, representing Isaac Newton, along with an unfolding Universal Declaration of Human Rights book and finally a huge, silvery crystal, representing the most recent of discoveries, the illusive Higgs Boson particle.
I finally got it. It was all about how far Man had come, what he had achieved so far and, most importantly, of what he was capable. In short, the theme was ‘inspiration’. That has to be what the Paralympics are all about.
The raising of the Union flag, the national anthem and the parade of athletes were next and I have to confess I was with the Queen then as fatigue of a kind did set in – you’ve seen one chap walking around with a flag and you’ve seen them all.
Coverage of the opening ceremony stretched on until 11.20pm and I think almost three and a half hours of looking at tracksuits is enough for anyone. Trust me, I once spent just an hour doing it in Matalan and it almost killed me!
I do hope Channel 4 gets it right during the next 11 days. The BBC did a fantastic job covering the Olympics. Will 4 live up to that benchmark?
The half-hour preamble before the ceremony reminded me of one major drawback viewers face – blessed adverts every ten or 15 minutes! They don’t do much to maintain fever pitch excitement.
Also, I’m not sure if sport is really Jon Snow’s bag. The chosen Paralympics anchorman for Channel 4 seemed nervy trying to keep adrenaline levels high.
Maybe he too is somewhat fatigued. He hinted as much when he told us that the oh-so-excited and ‘irrepressible’ Clare Balding was on the TV team, fresh from her sterling work covering the Olympics for the Beeb. “We will be seeing a lot more of her over the next 11 years...uurm, 11 days,” he spluttered.
Never mind, it’ll soon be Christmas, Jon.