London 2012 Revisited – Sporting Celebrations

Recently I’ve been looking back in detail at the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics, with the aid of the Blu-ray sets released by the BBC and Channel 4. For the Olympics I wrote about the Opening & Closing ceremonies and highlights from Days 1-8 & 9-16, and then I made a separate post about my Paralympics highlights.

Back in 2012, however, I also had a combined hard drive and DVD recorder connected to my TV, which meant I was able to record programmes, do some very basic editing and copy them on to discs. So I ended up recording a selection of shows relating to the Olympics & Paralympics, and I stored them on several DVDs, which I still have in my collection. And I’ve therefore been rewatching them as part of my nostalgia trip. They naturally aren’t as high quality as professional DVDs or Blu-rays, but they’re still good enough.

I’ve already discussed a few recordings relating to the Olympics in previous posts, as noted in the list of contents below. But here in this final post, to conclude my trip down memory lane, I’m going to run through the other stuff I captured, including our big victory parade, the Sports Personality Of The Year, documentaries, and appearances by some of the athletes on chat shows and game shows. I’ve also created a playlist with clips from some of these programmes, and some other relevant videos. So I hope you enjoy looking through it all!

Contents

Celebrations

Our Greatest Team Parade

BBC One, 10 September 2012

This special event was held the day after the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, and celebrated the amazing achievements of our British athletes in both the Olympics and Paralympics. Several of the Olympic athletes had already been treated to special homecoming parades or events in their own towns and cities, and some of the Paralympians would also soon get the same honours near their homes, but this event gave the whole country a chance to celebrate them all at once. It’s wonderful to watch, seeing just how much love and enthusiasm there is from the crowd and the athletes.

The parade was broadcast on the BBC, Channel 4 & Sky. I recorded the BBC’s programme, lasting 3 hours 20 minutes, which was presented by Gabby Logan from outside Buckingham Palace, accompanied by Colin Jackson, while commentary was provided by Huw Edwards, Hazel Irvine & Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The actual parade itself took over 2 hours, starting with a trumpet fanfare overseen by the Lord Mayor at Mansion House, then passing by St Paul’s Cathedral and Trafalgar Square, before heading down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where a big stage was set up for the finale in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial. And it’s no exaggeration to say that the crowds were colossal. Along the entire route people packed out the pavements, crammed into alleyways, climbed onto walls and street furniture, looked out of windows, leant over balconies and even stood on rooftops to get a view. A few dedicated viewing areas for disabled people were also provided. There are several clips of the parade filmed by crowd members on my celebrations playlist, so you can see it from their perspective and get a real feel for the atmosphere that day.

830 British athletes (541 Olympians & 289 Paralympians) were driven slowly through the streets on 21 floats, organised alphabetically by sport (from Athletics & Archery on the first to Triathlon & Water Polo on the last), which is the same order we had used for our parades in the Opening Ceremonies. More than 90% of our medal winners were present, with only a few unable to be there because of competitions or other commitments elsewhere. The floats were led by the Kinetica carnival group, including giant model lion heads, 40 members of their band and some dancers. And the Band of the Royal Marines brought up the rear.

Reporters John Inverdale & Sonali Shah interviewed many of the athletes on the floats along the way, all of whom were blown away by how many people had come out to see them. Meanwhile, down The Mall, Matthew Pinsent chatted to the parents and family members of Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Sophie Christiansen and Jonathan Adam, and also met some of the volunteer Games Makers. And in her presenting box near Buckingham Palace, Gabby Logan had Sebastian Coe & Steve Redgrave joining her as guests. We also heard various facts and statistics during the commentary, one being that golden stars Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Steve Redgrave, Mo Farah and Roger Bannister all share the same birthday of March 23rd. Clearly a good date to be born if you want to be sporty!

Outside Buckingham Palace and all the way down The Mall, prime positions were reserved for Games Makers, soldiers, emergency services personnel, ceremony performers, team coaches and support staff, friends and family members of the athletes, and about 1,000 school children from across London. They all got to watch as the parade floats arrived and then the finale event took place. Members of the public, meanwhile, gathered in Trafalgar Square to watch on a big screen there.

The finale show was preceded by a stunning flypast, including the BA plane that had brought the flame to the UK months earlier (painted in gold with “Thank You” written on the underside), a formation of 4 helicopters (2 Lynx, a Puma & a Sea King), a Sentry E3D flanked by 2 Typhoons, and finally – getting the biggest cheers as always – the Red Arrows.

Helen Skelton & Ben Shephard then took to the stage to lead the rest of the proceedings, which began with Amy Macdonald singing Pride, a nice catchy song that she had released as a single the previous month. The original version makes reference to “the blue and white of the flag” in reference to her Scottish homeland, so she adapted that line here to add the colour red as well. Helen & Ben then chatted to Olympian Chris Hoy and Paralympian Sarah Storey.

The Pet Shop Boys then performed Winner, West End Girls & Go West, as the athletes from Team GB & Paralympics GB filled the stage around them. Winner was a catchy, uplifting track that had been released in July as the leading single from their September album Elysium. And in connection with it there was also:

There were then a few speeches:

  • Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his sincere gratitude to everyone who made the Games a success, getting particularly  big cheers for mentioning the athletes, police, service personnel & volunteers. And he tells people to let the spirit of these Games live on for generations to come. He also hosted an event after the parade to commemorate the achievements of the athletes, and gave special thanks to the volunteers.
  • HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and President of the British Olympic Association, and a former Olympian herself, then gave a speech thanking all of the organisers and staff behind the scenes, from the original bidding right up to the Games themselves. And she too thanked all the athletes, reminding people that this wasn’t just about the medal winners, but about every single participant.
  • And finally, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, back at a time when he was still very popular with the British public and had an appropriate reason to hold a party, gave a memorably rousing and light-hearted speech, full of pride for the athletes and the success of the Games. It is perhaps most remembered for his remarks to the athletes that: “You brought this country together in a way we never expected. You routed the doubters and you scattered the gloomsters. And for the first time in living memory you caused Tube train passengers to break into spontaneous conversation with their neighbours about subjects other than their trod-on toes.” That got a big laugh, as did: “You produced such paroxysms of tears and joy on the sofas of Britain that you probably not only inspired a generation, but helped to create one as well.” And he rightly pointed out that “When we put our minds to it there is no limit to what Britain can achieve.”

Katherine Jenkins then sang the national anthem, there was a final big round of cheering and applause for the athletes, and then the Noisettes performed their called song called Winner to close the event. I’m not a fan of them personally, they weren’t anywhere near as good as The Pet Shop Boys, but it was still an appropriate choice of song. The BBC coverage then ended with clips from the Olympics, Paralympics and the parade to the song Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon. It was a fitting end to a wonderful celebratory event, in honour of an incredible summer of sporting excellence.

Sports Personality Of The Year

BBC One & Red Button, 16 December 2012

The 2012 awards ceremony from the ExCeL Arena in East London presented the public with a particularly difficult choice, given how much sporting success there had been. The BBC even had to expand the shortlist, chosen by their panel of experts, from 10 to 12 for the first time, most of them being Olympians and Paralympians, and even then there were plenty of worthy names missed off.

The 12 nominees were:

  • Ellie Simmonds – Won 2 golds, a silver and a bronze in the pool, despite the pressure of being the poster girl for the Paralympics at just 17 years old.
  • Sarah Storey – Won 4 Paralympic cycling gold medals, giving her a British record-equalling total of 11 gold medals.
  • David Weir – Won 4 Paralympic gold medals and the London wheelchair marathon.
  • Jessica Ennis – Won gold in the Olympics Heptathlon on Super Saturday.
  • Mo Farah – Won Olympic gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m on Super Saturday, only the 7th man in history to win both at the same Games.
  • Bradley Wiggins – The first Briton to win the Tour de France, and won his record-equalling 7th Olympic medal with gold in the Time Trial.
  • Chris Hoy – Won Olympic cycling golds in the team sprint and keirin, giving him a record career haul of 6 Olympic gold medals. He also won the World Championship in keirin.
  • Andy Murray – Became the first British man in 76 years to win a major after his success at the US Open, the first British player to reach the Wimbledon final in 76, and won Olympic gold and silver for his singles and doubles matches respectively.
  • Nicola Adams – The first woman to win an Olympic boxing title, and silver in the World Championship.
  • Katherine Grainger – Won Olympic gold in the double sculls rowing event with Anna Watkins, after silvers at the previous 3 Games. It made her the first British female athlete in any sport to win medals at 4 successive Olympics.
  • Ben Ainslie – Became the most decorated Olympic sailor in history by winning his 4th successive gold. Also won the World Finn Championship.
  • Rory McIlroy – World number 1 golfer who won the 2012 PGA Championship, and was part of Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the USA.

I actually have 3 programmes recorded in relation to this, beginning with 40 minutes of Red Carpet coverage, where Olly Foster and Helen Skelton chatted to lots of the stars as they arrived, including:

The main show then lasted for about 3 hours, in front of an audience of 16,000 people, including 500 of the volunteer Games Makers. The BBC Concert Orchestra were also on hand to play occasional pieces of music.

The ceremony was hosted by Sue Barker, Clare Balding & Gary Lineker, who introduced the show by flying through London in a helicopter, while sporting clips from the year were projected onto London landmarks. Emeli Sandé then opened the show in the arena by singing Read All About It Part III as more sporting clips were shown. More footage from the year was shown at regular intervals during the programme as well. And it wasn’t just from the Olympics & Paralympics, various other sports were showcased too.

Also throughout the show, segments were dedicated to each of the 12 stars nominated for the main award. A short film was played about each of them, including interviews with their peers as well as themselves, and then they were invited to chat about their achievements on stage. They were all very gracious, of course, thanking everyone who had supported and worked with them, and giving due credit to all the other nominees.

Bradley Wiggins was quite amusing with his remarks, while Ben Ainslie came on holding a huge lit flare. Then after a reading of Virgil’s The Boat Race by Kenneth Branagh with some rowing highlights, Katherine Grainger had fellow rower Anna Watkins supporting her as they had won their gold together. Andy Murray and Chris Hoy appeared by video link from Miami and Perth respectively. And Rory McIlroy couldn’t appear at all as he was taking a break in preparation for the next golfing season, so fellow Ryder Cup team members Justin Rose and Ian Poulter came out to talk about that competition instead.

And in between all of that, some other awards were also dished out, voted for by the BBC panel.

There were also some other bits and pieces that added variety to the proceedings, including:

Finally, the main Sports Personality Of The Year award was given out at the end of the programme, after the 1.5 million public votes had been counted and verified. The big trophy had been brought on stage early in the show by the previous year’s winner Mark Cavendish, accompanied by members of the armed forces and volunteer Games Makers.

David Beckham announced each of the top 3 names, with HRH The Duchess Of Cambridge giving the awards to the top 2 who were there in the studio:

  • 3rd place went to Andy Murray, with his trophy presented to him in Miami by Lennox Lewis – although Lennox missed his cue to hand it over due to the poor satellite connection, so Andy just picked it up off the table instead!
  • 2nd place went to Jessica Ennis.
  • And 1st place was awarded to Bradley Wiggins, a well-deserved winner, with the crowd chanting “Wiggo! Wiggo!”. He gave a short, grateful speech, clearly very surprised to have won it given the competition he was up against.

Then after the show had finished, there was an extra Winners Hour on the Red Button and Radio 5 Live, which actually only lasted 45 minutes, so I recorded that too. It opened with Alistair Griffin & The Games Makers Choir performing I Wish For You The World, which is a nice song. It was released as a single, along with a choral version, an a cappella mix, an instrumental and the backing track. The choir also recorded a lockdown version in 2020.

Then presenter John Inverdale chatted with co-hosts Annabel Croft & Matt Dawson before a whole stream of guests arrived, and they had short interviews with Jessica Ennis, Chris Froome, Andrew Strauss, Fabrice Muamba, Dave Brailsford, Emeli Sandé, Rebecca Adlington, Beth Tweddle, Sebastian Coe, Bradley Wiggins, Ellie Simmonds, Zoe Smith, Heather Stanning, Helen Glover, Jade Jones & Sarah Stevenson.

Chat Shows

Our Olympic and Paralympic champions inevitably appeared on several different chat shows after the Games. I saw a lot of them at the time, but I didn’t record every single episode or appearance, as there would have been far too many. So I just captured a few that interested me the most.

The Jonathan Ross Show

Series 3, Episode 1 (ITV, 18 August 2012)

This episode of Jonathan’s ITV chat show featured 3 Olympians fresh from their recent medal-winning exploits. It also featured Colin FarrellKelly Brook & Rita Ora, but I’ve edited out their interviews & Rita’s performance as they don’t interest me.

So I created a 38-minute edit that features Jonathan’s intro monologue and green room introductions, and then his interviews with the Olympians, who bring their medals out with them of course:

  • Tom Daley – For the green room introduction at the top of the show, Tom wore just a collar, tie and swimming trunks, exposing his bare chest for everyone to see, and joking that he was told the dress code was smart casual. But he was then properly dressed for his interview. He talked about about his synchro and Individual events, being able to retake his first solo dive due to flash photography, the details that the judges look for, taking Boris Johnson to the top of the platform to show him how high it was, the A-level results he had got that morning (Photography A*, Spanish A & Maths A), how he managed to compete and study in the wake of losing his father, and his autobiography entitled My Story, which included a drawing he did as a 9-year-old where he dreamt of competing in London 2012, and that was before the city’s bid had gone in. We also saw part of a video he made of himself lip syncing and dancing in trunks with his friends to Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO, for which some people criticised him for not taking his training seriously. Clearly didn’t do him any harm though!
  • Usain Bolt – In his interview he talked about how it feels to be the fastest man in the world, how other people want to race him, looking ahead to other events coming up in Europe and the Rio Games in 2016, other sports he might want to try, meeting the Swedish handball ladies, his family back in Jamaica, doing Mo Farah’s Mobot celebration, and racing Mickey Rourke in the streets. He also tried to teach Jonathan a victory dance and gave him a Jamaica shirt. And of course he finishes with his thunderbolt pose.

Alan Carr’s Specstacular & Chatty Man

Channel 4, August & September 2012

I’m not a big fan of Alan Carr, but I did record a few episodes of his Specstacular & Chatty Man shows, and edited them down to the bits I was interested in:

  • Summertime Specstacular 2 (17 August 2012) – My 27-minute edit begins with the mock opening ceremony at the start of the show, where Alan lit a ceremonial barbecue before doing a routine with dancers to Starship by Nicki Minaj. He then chatted with Paloma Faith, Jonathan Ross, Tulisa, Melanie Sykes, Keith Lemon & Labrinth about their memories of the Olympics, before bringing out Louis Smith, Greg Rutherford, Nicola Adams, Beth Tweddle, Helen Glove & Mo Farah. There were no in-depth interviews as a result, as it was more of a party atmosphere, but we heard how Mo got free chicken at Nando’s and met David Cameron, how Greg trains, how lots of condoms were handed out in the Olympic Village, how Louis wanted to inspire the younger generation for gymnastics, Nicola talking about how women have an unwritten rule not to hit each other’s breasts, and how Helen only took up rowing in 2008 after being told she was good in a talent ID scheme. Alan also then brought in Liz Johnson and Lee Pearson from the upcoming Paralympics to chat briefly as well.
  • Chatty Man (Series 9, Episode 1, 14 September 2012) – I’ve just kept the first part of this episode, lasting 17 minutes. It includes Alan’s opening monologue about the Olympics & Paralympics, before he welcomed Paralympians Ellie Simmonds, David Weir & Jody Cundy, along with Adam HillsAlex Brooker from The Last Leg, and offered them all drinks. They then talk about Alex’s views on the Opening & Closing Ceremonies, Adam seeing people getting off with each other at the Beijing Games in 2008, David and Ellie’s special roles in the Closing Ceremony, Ellie and David’s victories, Jody’s bronze medal and his anger at being disqualified in another event, how The Last Leg reviewed the Paralympics and explored the funny side, the “Is It Ok?” questions that people sent in, Adam’s Union Jack leg and the Australian symbols on Alex’s leg, and the general impact of the Paralympics on perceptions of disability.
  • Chatty Man (Series 9, Episode 2, 21 September 2012) – I’ve kept a 7-minute segment from Part 4 of this episode, featuring Jonnie Peacock sitting on the sofa alongside Matt Smith, the current Doctor Who at the time. Alan served up Jägerbombs for the 3 of them, with Jonnie downing his in one. Jonnie then talked about what he was seen shouting as he crossed the line after winning his race, explained how a psychic had told his Mum 2 years earlier that he would get gold at the London Games, paid tribute to the crowd and volunteers, was coy when asked how frisky the athletes got with each other in the Paralympic Village, and gave his thoughts on going to Rio in 2016.

The Graham Norton Show

Series 12, Episode 7 (BBC One, 7 December 2012)

This was a fun episode from Graham’s BBC chat show that I’ve kept in full, as it had a decent line-up that includes Jessica Ennis as the star guest. Here she showed off her gold medal, the care guidelines that go with it, and a photo of her dog wearing it. She also talked about the atmosphere in the stadium when running the 800m, being the poster girl for the Games, how people reacted afterwards, how drugs testers can turn up at any time with little notice, and her book Unbelievable: From My Childhood Dreams To Winning Olympic Gold.

Ricky Gervais also appeared on the show, talking about Series 3 of An Idiot Abroad and his new show Derek (neither of which I got into much), as well as his stand-up tour in Europe, being given golden pants by Ellen DeGeneres, being approached in public, and the weird photos he posts of himself in the bath.

And Daniel Radcliffe was there too, promoting his new Sky Arts comedy A Young Doctor’s Notebook (which I’ve never seen), as well as talking about coping with fans from his childhood stardom, and getting naked in films and on stage. He was also shown a fan fiction site dedicated to him, and Ricky helped Graham to upload a story synopsis to it.

Bruno Mars was the musical guest at the end, promoting his album Unorthodox Jukebox and performing Locked Out Of Human. And in the big red chair – where audience members relate strange stories to see if they can avoid being flipped out of the seat – a Scottish guy spoke about working in a call centre, and talking to a man whose dog had chewed on exposed live wires. The guests decided that he could walk, but he asked to be flipped anyway as he wants to experience it.

The Last Leg Of The Year

Channel 4, 30 December 2012

The Last Leg is well-known today as a very funny Friday night show on Channel 4, hosted by Australian comedian Adam Hills with Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe. Adam and Alex are both disabled, each wearing a prosthetic leg while Alex also has deformed hands. Each week they try to make sense and light of the latest events in the news, promote disability awareness, and talk about anything else that takes their fancy, with the help of special guests. I’ve been a big fan of it from the outset, and I was even in the audience for an episode in 2017.

It actually started, however, as a light-hearted daily show during the Paralympics, looking back at each day’s events. That’s why it uses the same theme tune as Channel 4 does for their Paralympics coverage – Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy – to accompany their opening titles. The other piece of music they heavily use for incidental purposes (opening headlines, guest arrivals, ad break stings, etc) is a library track from Zone Music called The Power, the first track on their Audio Allsorts 4 album.

I didn’t record any of the daily Paralympics shows in 2012, because that would have been overkill, and I didn’t feel the need to keep them at the time. I might have done for posterity if I’d known the show would become as hugely popular as it has, but then nobody could see the future at that point. Even Adam, Alex, Josh and the production team thought they would just do a single season.

However, they were then invited to do a Christmas special, The Last Leg Of The Year, looking back over 2012 in general, and they had a big audience for the first time too. That episode really kick-started the series properly, as we know it today. And I did record that one. It lasted for an hour, but I edited out the adverts to bring it down to 48 minutes. They all look much younger relative to today, of course, especially Alex without his moustache.

At the start of the show, Adam revealed that he still has his prosthetic leg painted with the Union Jack, having lost a bet with Alex over who would win the most medals out of Great Britain and Australia. And as part of an initial “Is It OK?” segment, where people can ask various questions, they talked briefly about the Pope joining Twitter, the hunt for the Higgs-Boson particle, and a French magazine publishing topless pictures of Kate Middleton. A video was also played of Alex interviewing Boris Johnson about the Games, his zip wire flight and his hairstyle, and they play rock, paper, scissors.

They then had various guests in the studio:

  • Rachel, who went viral as a volunteer who sounded very sarcastic about her genuine excitement for the Games. She came in and played on her moment of fame, and was a good sport for doing so. 10 years on, The Last Leg have just celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2022, and they got Rachel back on the show to talk about her life since then, and to repeat her ‘enthusiastic’ delivery by telling people what was coming up after the ad breaks. So that was a lovely callback.
  • Jamie Oliver talked about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, his love of chilli, and people stealing items with his name on from his restaurants. They also looked at Taiwan’s bizarre animated report of the Jubilee.
  • Nicola Adams talked about her gold medal winning experience, and how she received £10 in the post from a pensioner congratulating her. The hosts also talked about their favourite moments from the Olympics, including a clip of weightlifter Matthias Steiner having an accident (he was fine afterwards).
  • Jonnie Peacock then joined them for a section about the Paralympics. He has a prosthetic leg like Adam, and they each ended up sitting on Josh’s lap to see if he could feel which buttock was the stronger one. Adam also showed off a copy of Attitude Magazine which had some topless photos of Jonnie inside.

Then, towards the end of the programme, a video was shown of Alex going to a sports talent day, where he tried fencing, judo, horse riding & cycling, while Josh watched and encouraged him. And back in the studio, the guys nominated their heroes of the year – Adam picking Jacqueline Freney, Alex choosing Alex Zanardi, and Josh nominating the fencer that hit Alex in the balls at the talent day because it really amused him.

So it was a fun episode with a variety of guests and features, as is always the case for that programme.

In addition, a few days earlier, Adam Hills delivered Channel 4’s Christmas Message, which is their annual alternative to the Queen’s Christmas speech, so I recorded that as well. Here Adam recited a fun poem that paid tribute to the achievements of our Olympians & Paralympians, as he walked through the streets of London, finishing with a shot of the Olympic Stadium and a montage of clips from the Games.

Game Shows

The Cube

Series 5, Episode 7 (ITV, 14 July 2012)

In this tense ITV game show hosted by Phillip Schofield, which makes impressive use of bullet-time camerawork to spin around the action, each contestant has to complete a series of up to 7 games, each worth an increasing amount of money, without losing all of their 9 lives. The instructions for each game are simple, but they generally require accuracy and/or speed, so you need to be able to concentrate and have a cool head under pressure.

When presented with each game, the contestant has to decide whether to take the money they’ve won so far and walk away, or gamble it all by playing on. It becomes an increasingly tough decision as the money ramps up, as they cannot quit a game once they’ve started it, and if they lose all their lives then they lose all their money (or they go away with £1,000 if it’s a charity celebrity edition, but that’s still a huge drop from higher amounts).

Once they’ve passed the first game, they also get a couple of lifelines to help them – a Trial Run, so they can play a game once without any consequences to see if it’s worth doing for real, or a Simplify, which changes a key element of the game to make it easier. But they can only use each lifeline once across the remaining 6 games, so they have to choose wisely.

Such is the challenge of the show that, in the first 43 episodes between 2009 and mid-2012, only 6 contestants had been able to complete the first 6 games, including Tom Fletcher from McFly. And on being presented with the final game to beat The Cube for £250,000 – which brings back a game they’ve already played at a harder level – they all decided against it, as they didn’t have enough lives and/or confidence with which to risk their current substantial winnings of £100,000. It was an understandable and sensible decision each time.

But then came Mo Farah, attempting to raise money for his foundation, which he had launched the previous year to help the people of Somalia (though it has since closed).

If anybody had the potential to beat The Cube, it was him. Nobody is cooler under pressure than Mo. And I have a 40-minute recording of his episode, having edited out the adverts. The games he played were:

  • Response – Mo had to react extremely quickly when a moving blue square suddenly changed to red. It was surprisingly tricky, and he lost 2 lives before he finally nailed it.
  • Revolution – Standing on a revolving platform, which messes up your sense of direction and accuracy, Mo had to throw a ball into a bucket. He got it in first time, which nobody had ever done before.
  • Aperture – Mo had to shove 20 balls, one at a time, through a small hole into a box in just 20 seconds. Despite fumbling with one of them, he still completed it on the first attempt, with just half a second left!
  • Barrier – Blindfolded, Mo had to walk over 2 barriers without dislodging them. It’s a notoriously difficult game, but again Mo completed it on the first attempt. By this point, with no lives lost across 3 consecutive games and no lifelines used, it was clear something very special was potentially possible. It was extremely rare for anyone to get this far in such good shape.
  • Expulsion – Mo had to fling 500 balls out of a container with both hands in just 15 seconds, and it didn’t matter where they landed. It sounds easy, but once you get loads out to begin with, you’re left with lots of little stragglers that are harder to deal with. But yet again he completed it first time, with a whopping 3 seconds to spare.
  • Composure – Mo had to guide a ring around a big tall circular metal bar without the two making contact. It’s a long journey, and the ring isn’t much wider than the bar, so there’s no real room for error or shaky hands. Knowing that it would be difficult, Mo used his Trial Run to test it out, and inevitably failed. So he used his Simplify lifeline, which presented him with a wider ring – and with that he was able to complete the game first time.
  • Barrier – To beat The Cube, Mo had to repeat his blindfolded walk, but now crossing 3 barriers of varying heights. At this stage, he could have walked away proudly with £100,000 for his charity, and did seriously consider it. But he also has an unprecedented 7 lives, having only lost 2 in the very first game, a position that nobody had been in at that stage before. So after careful deliberation with his family and friends who were also there, and who he had talked to throughout the show for each playing decision, he had the confidence to go for it. He failed on the first attempt, but learnt from it and completed the second with ease. It was a fabulous ending to a really impressive set of games, he made it look so much simpler than it is!

As a result of all that, Phillip was finally able to enter the now golden coloured cube for the very first time to congratulate the show’s very first winner of the £250,000 jackpot – and indeed the only winner they ever had before the series ended in 2015.

The show was revamped when it returned in 2020 for a couple of years, with a heightened jackpot of £1 million and other new features, but only 1 person completed the first 6 games, and they didn’t elect to go for the jackpot.

So Mo remains the only person to have played the final game. And as there are no current plans for the show to return (though it’s still possible at a later date), he’s going to have the honour of being the only jackpot winner for quite some time. It certainly says a lot when the only person who can conquer The Cube is an Olympic athlete!

Superstars

BBC One, 29 December 2012

Superstars was a long-running series that challenged professional athletes to perform a variety of different sports, to see who could be the overall champion. It originally ran from 1973-1985 on the BBC, reappeared from 2002-2004 thanks to Sports Relief, and had a single series revival on Five in 2008.

It then returned to the BBC for a special 90-minute Olympics edition in 2012, which to date is still the last episode to have been made. It kept the general format and the original theme tune (Heavy Action by Johnny Pearson), and consisted of championships for men and women:

It was presented by Gabby Logan, with Denise Lewis on hand to provide analysis, while Iwan Thomas was the roving reporter interviewing the athletes, and Paul Dickenson provided commentary on the events. It was filmed over a weekend in November, using sporting facilities provided by the University of Bath for the most part.

There were 8 events altogether. The higher each athlete finished in each event, the more points they scored in the overall standings, so whoever had the most points would win the Superstars title. Each athlete was excluded from 2 events, including the one that was their own speciality or the closest match to it. That ensured nobody had an unfair advantage, and meant they all had to compete in events they had little or no experience in, so they had to adapt as best they could. However, they all had to compete in the very first and last events.

The events consisted of:

  • Athletics: 100m – Everybody had to do this, and it happened to be raining that day. The men’s race was won by Anthony, Robbie & Mo, and the women’s race was won by Christine, Laura & Jade.
  • Archery – Each competitor had 5 arrows to get the highest score they could, and it certainly proved to be a challenge for some. Nicola won for the women, and Michael for the men.
  • Kayak – The competitors had to make their way around 2 buoys, one at each end of the 50m pool, in a figure of 8 route, and then cross the finish line in the centre. 2 athletes competed against each other in each heat, one on each side of the pool. Some of them really struggled with this, either spinning around in circles, going in completely the wrong direction, or capsizing.  Laura beat Jade in the women’s final, while Alistair beat his brother Jonathan in the men’s event.
  • Athletics: 800m – This was again run in the rain. The women’s race was won by Helen, Jade & Lizzie. The men’s race was won easily by Alistair & Jonathan, who were way ahead of the others but had a close finish between them, while Anthony was third.
  • Swimming: 50m freestyle – For the final event of Day 1, the competitors were given tips by Rebecca Adlington before entering the pool. Rebecca even had a race for fun against Michael & Iwan – which she won, but Michael was a close second, and Iwan came third. As for the championship races, the women’s race was won by Helen, Laura & Katherine, while the winners in a very close race for the men were Robbie, Anthony & Andrew.
  • Cycling: Road Race – Here we were shown footage of Kevin Keegan crashing during his race in 1976, but thankfully nobody fell off this time. For the 2012 race, the course was about 1km in length and mostly uphill, but with a flat section at the end. The women’s race was won by Helen, Katherine & Nicola, while another close race for the men was won by Anthony, Andrew & Michael.
  • Javelin – After being given guidance by Ken Holmes, the athletes had mixed fortunes attempting this. The women did pretty well, with the contest won by Katherine, Gemma & Jade. But the men made lots of fouls, either stepping over the line or their javelin landing flat or tail first (as it has to land point first). Jonathan, Robbie & Andrew fouled all 3 of their throws so were bottom of the table, while the top 3 were Anthony, Mo & Peter. At this point Anthony had already won the overall contest, as nobody could pass him with one event to go.
  • Gym Test – Everybody had to go through this torture to finish the contest, where each athlete has to do as many squat thrusts as they can, and then as many dips on parallel bars as they can, each within a minute. Clips of Brian Jacks were also shown here, as he broke records and stunned audiences with his record-breaking abilities in this event from 1979 onwards. But it’s far from as easy as he made it look, as the 2012 athletes soon discovered. The women’s test was won by Helen, Christine & Nicola, and the men’s test was won by Michael, Anthony & Andrew.

It was all good fun to watch, as there was great camaraderie and support between everyone involved, even though each athlete was keen to do their best and win the competition.

The women’s championship was won by Helen Glover, with Jade Jones second and Laura Bechtolsheimer third. And the men’s championship was won by Anthony Joshua, with Michael Jamieson second. Alistair Brownlee & Robbie Grabarz tied for third place, but only one person could claim bronze, so it was awarded to Alistair on count back, as he had won 2 events.

Conclusion

And that’s it, that concludes my detailed round-up of the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics. If you somehow made it this far, I hope you enjoyed looking through all of that.

Check out my Celebrations playlist for clips from some of those programmes, along with other bonus treats including:

Thank you to all of our amazing Olympians & Paralympians, and the thousands of people behind the scenes of the ceremonies and events, who made it such an incredible summer of sport that Britain will forever remember and be proud of!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

3 thoughts on “London 2012 Revisited – Sporting Celebrations”

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