London 2012 Inside Track: Let the fun and Games begin!
From our right-royal new Bond girl to canapé-munching ministers and cyclists caught short, Matt Chorley takes a light-hearted run at Olympic life
Bark worse than bike
The joy, the pain, the endeavour, the huge crowds, the high hopes and shattered dreams. The men's road race, which saw Mark Cavendish denied the gold, had it all. And the most watched video on the BBC website yesterday? A dog which ran amok between the riders. Heel!
Square eyes of the world
Viewing figures for the Opening Ceremony peaked at 27 million in the UK, putting it just behind Den and Angie's divorce papers (30m) but well ahead of the end of series one of To the Manor Born (23.95m). Comedian Katy Brand declared: "So if the UK viewing audience was 27 million, and it cost £27m, then it's the best bloody pound I have ever spent."
New Bond girl, the Queen, was "delighted" to have been part of the show, Buckingham Palace stressed yesterday. But at one point the cameras cut to her as she was taking very detailed interest in her nails. Huw Edwards, still bruised by the charge of lacking deference during the Jubilee jamboree, helped out: "The Queen, looking on proudly… I'm sure."
It's worth keeping an eye on the waistline of schmoozing government ministers, who are going for gold in the canapé-munching relay. One buffet monster said: "I could tell you which embassy has got the best sandwiches. Just don't ask what is actually happening in the sport."
Every day a special Olympics Cabinet is updated on how well it is all going. Boris Johnson has been in attendance. Is he behaving himself? "Ish," says a source.
The helicopter shots of the cyclist hurtling through Surrey were spectacular, and only lacked Alan Partridge's memorable piece of The Day Today commentary: "They look somehow like cattle in a mad way. But cattle on bikes." But who needs Alan Partridge when we've got Hazel Irvine, who has a devastating line in trivia: Paraguay's flag is different on both sides; Kyrgyzstan is one of just four countries with only one vowel; Barbados comes from the Portuguese for "bearded one". She was at it again yesterday, telling viewers: "A huge percentage of Great Britain's gold medals have come in sports in which you sit down." And a huge percentage of the BBC's best telly waffling comes from presenters who are sat down too.
A wee problem
Few viewers have been gushing about the BBC coverage. Except for the, well, gushing witnessed during the men's cycling road race. Imogen Middleton (as far as we can tell no relation to everyone's favourite Duchess) spoke for the nation: "So nice of the BBC to show us a line of cyclists having a wee... cheers."
Spectators at the equestrian venue in Greenwich complained of food stocks out. Debbie Pearce said: "My friend's vegetarian and there's nothing for her to eat." So hungry, in fact, that she could eat a horse.
Refund my fire
One of the seven youngsters chosen to light the Olympic cauldron, sailor Callum Airlie, is already a high flyer. Yesterday, his 17th birthday, he jetted off early to the 420 Youth World Championships in Austria. But the choice of up-and-coming athletes dismayed bookies, with William Hill refunding £50,000 because no-one could have guessed it. Graham Sharpe clarified: "It's like a horse coming along the final leg, then along comes another horse and the jockey jumps off and gets on the other one."
Just trying to name all the songs in the show was tiring enough. But it seems the whole experience was too much for Rick Smith, one half of Underworld, the dance-music duo who devised the soundtrack. He cancelled pre-arranged interviews after being taken "unwell due to exhaustion". Exhaustion has its rewards, last night the official album, Isles of Wonder, went to number one in the iTunes chart. Showing a clean pair of heels to Now That's What I Call Music! 82.
Bums on seats
TV viewers expressed dismay at the part-filled venues. Alastair Campbell tweeted that "the big gaps at beach volleyball, swimming, equestrian have to be explained". Locog has launched an empty-seats investigation. No word yet on who will chair it.
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