Joe Utichi is Deadline’s London contributor:
Maybe you waited for NBC’s tape-delayed primetime broadcast tonight of the London Olympics Closing Ceremony orchestrated by executive producer Stephen Daldry and artistic director Kim Gavin. The duo promised to put on an unforgettable party showcasing British icons and British creativity – but the live show couldn’t quite pack the same punch of Danny Boyle’s opening night. In the U.S., NBC‘s live webstream of the show – heavily branded by Olympics sponsor Coca-Cola – struggled to keep up with Eric Idle singing “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” from the iconic Monty Python movie Life Of Brian and cursing on the song lyric, “Life’s a piece of shit when you look at it,” which made its way into the stream. That was edited out by NBC for primetime. Blogger Matt Drudge watched the spectacle live and tweeted that it was “easily top most moving media event of year so far. Watch NBC butcher it.” UPDATE: Tweets from NBC viewers on the East Coast say Ray Davies of the Kinks performace of “Waterloo Sunset” and the dance piece to Kate Bush music were edited out of American broadcast of Olympics Closing Ceremony.
The London Olympics was another cheeky but also emotional spectacle as once again Olympic Stadium was transformed “into a giant jukebox of British pop and pizazz” for the wrapup ceremony. The Spice Girls and The Who were among the acts enticed to perform 30 British hit singles from the past 5 decades. Playing their own music, George Michael, Annie Lennox, the Spice Girls and Queen’s Brian May joined current chart favourites One Direction, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz. But rumor had tipped appearances from Elton John, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones. The biggest names on the bill didn’t even appear. A recorded David Bowie medley led into a celebration of British fashion starring Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Lily Cole. Interpretive dancers built a mountain of white cubes to a recording of Kate Bush. Brit singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran channeled Pink Floyd. And Russell Brand shouted “I Am The Walrus” through a megaphone. Even Oasis weren’t Oasis: Liam Gallagher’s new band Beady Eye performed “Wonderwall”, but there was no sign of the song’s writer, his brother Noel. In the end, it was up to The Who, providing the grand finale in the form of “See Me, Feel Me” and “My Generation”, to show the rest how it’s done.
Daldry and Gavin claimed they only had 17 hours of rehearsal. Daldry is best known for directing Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Reader, The Hours, and Billy Elliot. Gavin is best known for directing rock tours and London’s 2007 Princess Diana memorial concert.
Athletes from 204 competing nations marched to the music and rticker tape and fireworks, plus an 8-minute section of song and dance created by the 2016 Summer Games host country Brazil as London Mayor Boris Johnson passed the Olympic flag to Rio’s Eduardo Paes.
The broadcast on the BBC brought back Opening Ceremony commentators Huw Edwards, Hazel Irvine and Trevor Nelson, who had clearly responded to complaints and kept their comments to a minimum. A commentary-free version was available through the broadcaster’s interactive service. Boyle’s opening ceremony was criticised for left-leaning politics. This Closing Ceremony played it much safer, offering Timothy Spall reprising his King’s Speech role as Winston Churchill, and a giant representation of the Union Flag designed by Damien Hirst. But it wasn’t quite as engaging. Still, for these two weeks of record-breaking Olympics, few could argue with London Olympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe’s closing remarks: “Britain, we did it right.”