An unlikely protest pin-up girl for London 2012


Protesters will not be allowed to ruin the Olympics, organisers vowed after Trenton Oldfield's Boat Race invasion. But the role of civil disobedience in British history could itself be hailed with a theatrical tribute to the suffragettes at the London Games' opening ceremony.

Details of the inaugural ceremony, devised by the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, are tightly under wraps. Titled "The Isles of Wonder" after a line spoken by Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest, the £27m show will celebrate the best of Britain.

One radical idea currently being prepared is a section dramatising the role of the suffragettes, the militant activists whose often-violent actions forced the British establishment to confront the question of votes for women.

It is understood that suffragette outfits have been commissioned for use in the ceremony, and consideration has been given to performers re-enacting the death of Emily Davison, the campaigner killed when she ran in front of the King's horse during the 1913 Derby.

The suffragette sequence will be further considered following the protest by Mr Oldfield, a self-styled "anti-elitism" campaigner. He has called for protesters to "do something similar to Emily Davison" during the Games, after successfully disrupting the Boat Race.

Yesterday, protesters angry about the corporate nature of the Games threatened to bring disruption to London's streets by blocking special traffic lanes reserved for athletes, sponsors and VIPs.

Boyle, the Slumdog Millionaire director, said his opening ceremony featuring a cast of 12,000 volunteers, and expected to be viewed by a worldwide audience of one billion, would capture the "essence of Britain" and depict a land recovering from its industrial legacy.

An Olympics spokesman declined to comment on the suffragette preparations, but said the show would "celebrate the best of British while representing all the regions".

The intrigue surrounding the opening ceremony is likely to fall away only when a full dress rehearsal is held in front of a capacity crowd of 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium.