London 2012 organisers had to stop Jeremy Hunt putting Hitler in the opening ceremony, documentary reveals

Former culture secretary wanted to mark Britain's triumph over fascism in the Second World War

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 17 July 2016 23:33 BST
The opening ceremony celebrated British achievements through history - but missed out the Second World War on taste grounds
The opening ceremony celebrated British achievements through history - but missed out the Second World War on taste grounds

London 2012 organisers fought with the culture secretary over the idea of mentioning Hitler during the Olympics opening ceremony, a new documentary has revealed.

A BBC documentary about the making of the four-hour opening show scheduled to appear on Sunday will show the battle between director of the ceremony, Danny Boyle, and then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over Mr Hunt’s idea to include the Allies' victory over the Nazis.

The £65m opening ceremony of the London Olympics, officially called Isles of Wonder, in August 2012 celebrated the high points of UK history and innovation - including references to the successes of the industrial revolution and the founding of the NHS.

But Mr Hunt, whose father served in the navy during the Cold War, wanted to take it a step further and make Britain’s defeat of fascism take centre stage.

Mr Boyle and his colleague Stephen Daldry were against it on the grounds of “taste” and eventually they appealed directly to David Cameron to stop it.

Mr Boyle told the documentary: “We did have stand-offs. There were moments, big moments… It was like ‘Where’s the war? We won, we beat the Fascists. Where’s the war?’”

“Jeremy Hunt wound up the Prime Minister to a certain extent. They were very concerned with Britain’s role in defeating Fascism”, Mr Daldry added.

In the end, Mr Cameron left it to the directors to have the final say as it was “their ceremony”.

A source close to Mr Hunt told the Mail on Sunday that he thought the Second World War was “conspicuous by its absence” and said he made his opinions known but had not wanted to make concrete suggestions.

He said: “Jeremy thought it was appropriate to remember great moments of national sacrifice. But he was a huge fan of the Opening Ceremony.”

The programme, One Night in 2012: An Imagine Special, will be broadcast on BBC1 at 10:30pm on 17 July.

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