Danny Boyle lined up to direct 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

When the Chinese film director Zhang Yimou was enlisted to orchestrate the inaugural ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the world waited with excitement and later praised the breathtaking results.

Now, Britain appears to have adopted China's tried and tested method, as speculation mounted yesterday over the claim that the Oscar-winning British film director Danny Boyle would be overseeing the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Organisers are believed to have approached Boyle, who directed the international box-office hit Slumdog Millionaire, to direct the opening ceremony, which will take place at the newly constructed Olympic stadium in Stratford.

Ever since the spectacular opening of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, directed by Yimou, British organisers have hoped to emulate it with their own production in two years' time.

A spokeswoman from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) said she could not confirm Boyle's involvement, or the rumour that organisers were in logistical talks with him.

She added that no contracts had yet been signed and that they were in talks with a number of people about availability. "A lot of talented people would like to be involved that may have other commitments," she said.

However, there is a mounting belief that Boyle is seen as the answer to organisers' dreams. An unnamed senior source was quoted as saying: "We want the most imaginative ceremony the world has ever seen".

Another insider added: "Nothing has been signed yet, but we do fully expect him [Boyle] to do it."

Boyle, 53, has spoken of his admiration for the Games in the past and issued no denial over this latest claim. The director, who lives near the site of the Games in east London, praised the competition. "It feels like it's a project that will bed itself in the East End and do a lot of good," he said.

When asked if he had been approached by Locog, he reportedly answered: "I can't say any more. It would be lovely, wouldn't it?"

Many see Slumdog Millionaire, which was set in Mumbai, as proof of his ability to bridge cultures, which would help to portray Britain as an open, diverse society in 2012.

The film dramatised the transformation of a poverty-stricken Mumbai boy by the Indian adaptation of the television quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and was described by critics as "visually astonishing".

However, it is a moot point whether London can match the immense scale of the inaugural ceremony in Beijing. London's ceremony is expected to attract a live audience of about 80,000 and be seen around the world on television.

Meanwhile, further speculation is growing over whether the 13-strong acrobatics group Spellbound – who won the reality television competition Britain's Got Talent on Saturday night – will also be involved in the opening ceremony of the Games.

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