30/07/2012 Newsnight


Reporting on the intense fighting in Syria, and a look at torture and injustice in Belarus. Does Olympic home advantage matter? Plus, meet two authors of the opening ceremony.

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Tonight, a top Syrian diplomat in London defects, saying he can no


longer bear to represent the regime. As the battle for the city of


Aleppo intensifies, will this increasingly bloody civil war split


the country. This is another blow to Assad, and his cronies in


Damascus, it is good news, this is one in the eye for the regime. We


want this regime to crumble and fold as fast as possible. What does


the home advantage mean to GB, as they try to match their medal haul


from Beijing. We have Team Newsnight on the case, and author


of Luck and the head of UK sport. After an Olympic ceremony that


broke broadcasting records, what were the messages intends and did


we get them. We will talk to the designer of the called Ron, code


named Betty. Europe's last dictatorship, as John


Sweeney puts himself in the place of those tortured by the regime.


The guards force the prisoners to strip naked, and stand in this


position, spread eagled, in minus 20, there was snow outside. Good


evening, Syria's most senior diplomat in the UK has mit his post


in protest at the violent and oppressive actions of the regime


headed by Bashar Al-Assad. He told the Home Office he was no longer


prepared to continue. It comes as the Government forces


try to retake the largest city, Aleppo, with the world paralyses,


how can the increasingly brutal civil war end, could it be by


spliting the country. The battle for Syria's largest city


has raged all day. Sending hundreds of thousands fleeing. Through the


noise of war, it is hard to know who's gaining the upper hand.


But for the regime, victory is vital.


In its report, state television claimed the army had purged one key


district of Aleppo, from what it called terrorist gangs. He said


they had taken complete control of the city, and will make the whole


city secure within a few days. But the rebels, here race to go try


to rescue a trapped unit, say that is nonsense. They say they are


still advancing. Though they are certainly taking some casualties.


While fighting continued in Aleppo, rebels claimed they had taken a key


checkpoint, Anadan, to the north. Giving them free movement between


the city and the Turkish border. And this unverified footage, they


are apparently celebrating the capture of a Government tank,


vowing to go all the way to the Presidential Palace.


For now, on the streets of all lep po, they are still fighting mainly


with -- Aleppo, they are still fighting mainly with the


Kalashnikovs, still outgunned by the Government forces. Their


strategy is to win gradually and wear them down. They don't have the


fire power to win militarily, they have been wage ago war of attrition,


trying to bleed the regime of its resources, trying to turn the tide


of popular opinion against the regime. Military depexs and these


kinds of things. It is very interesting, if you look at the


combat raging now, not just in Aleppo city, and the suburbs, the


rebels are shooting in all different directions, this is a


sign for the regime to say you are encircled and surrounded, we are


everywhere. The very fact they are now in Aleppo, the ancient trading


city out of the fight for the last year, proves that strategy is


working. At least part of Aleppo's prosperous Sunni business community,


has finally backed the revolution, they are not the only people


changing sides. In another example of the slow erosion of the regime,


Syria's most senior diplomat in London, resigned today. He told the


Foreign Office he was no longer willing to represent a regime that


had committed such violent and oppressive acts against his own


people. The news follows the resignation or defection of a


number of Syrian diplomats this month. As well as a much larger


number of generals and other military officers. Nearly all,


including the former charges defares, have been Sunni -- charges


defairs have been Sunni Muslims. Some think he will retreat to the


Alawite heartland on the Mediterranean, to try to set up an


Alawite mini-state. That would hardly be viable. I agree it could


never work, because those areas are heavily populated by Sunni Muslims,


one area that is 50% Sunni population. What gives it some


plausibilty, if you look at where the massacres have taken place,


these campaigns can only be described as campaigns of "ethnic


cleansing", designed to terrorise the Sunni population. More


important than, that although that is pretty bad in itself, designed


to make the Alawite communities, around these areas, feel complicit,


and feel as though their fortune, their life and death struggle, is


inextricablely tied to the political fortune of the Assad


regime. When I met refugees from Aleppo on the Turkish border a few


days a they told us the mainly Alawite shabiha militia were


burning bodies in the city, sometimes burning people alive, to


spread sectarian divide. They are working hard on a sectarian war,


they didn't succeed, we have so many different communities, Alawite,


Sunni and Christians joining the rebels, they didn't succeed. Others


aren't so sure, but long-term sectarian war is a fear for the


future. For now, for those still trying to survive, amid the gunfire


in Aleppo, where bread is running short, as well as water and power


supplies, the present is frightening enough. Joining us now


the former British ambassador to Syria. You know the country very


well, we know Aleppo is the largest population, but stragically, how


significant would this victory be for either side? It is the largest


city in Syria, two million people. We can't talk about victory, it is


a long way off that. We have a number of fighters in the streets,


extraordinary courage being shown. Your correspondent and cameramen


were also incredibly courageous. There is a lot of courage and


bullets being fired. But there is no question of the rebels taking


control of Aleppo. They are way short of that. In terms of what is


happening today we saw another defection from a high-profile


diplomat here, if these start to add up, could it come from within,


that fall? I think a diplomat here or there doesn't make a difference.


The question is whether the regime would fall apart, as you say. There


are two things to look at, one is the loyalty of the army, more


importantly the effectiveness of the secret police. If you get a


condition of chaos, in Aleppo or in Damascus, such that the secret


police don't know where people are, can't come along the next day and


arrest them, the fear, the overriding fear of the secret


police will dissipate, and then the regime will be in a lot more


trouble. If Assad went, would that be the end of the secret police.


Assad is of no importance, he has never run Syria, he doesn't run it


today. You really believe that. If he went tomorrow the problems would


continue? If Assad himself went tomorrow it would make no


difference. He would be replaced by one of his relatives, by some


intelligence general, and the same regime would be determined to stay


in power, this is the key to it, you see. Both sides are now


determined to fight. Because, both sides think that they have some


chance of winning, and more importantly, neither side can


afford to lose. The consequences for them and their families would


be terrible. You heard it described this vision, maybe, of an Alawite


mini-state. Can you see a Syria now completely divided which a civil


war? It is already divided by a civil war. We have a civil war, it


has a sectarian element, we have foreign support to either side.


mini-state from within Syria? Alawites will have to fight to


survive. For the moment there is no scope for diplomacy, because they


are determined to fight. But then there is some kind of a military


outcome, perhaps even a stalemate, then we have to think, how we can


get some degree of stability into that situation, where you you have


two million Alawite terrified of the other 20 million Syrians. It is


not impossible, we are not a long way from it, that there will be


some kind of enclave in the North West just as we have in Azerbaijan.


An enclave supported by a foreign power, that could survive, and at


least you would have some kind of a frontline, some end to the fighting.


You were nodding when you heard the description of these massacres


asset nick cleansing. If you take us back to -- as "ethnic cleansing",


if you take us back to Bosnia, was there a moment when some kind of


intervention was possible and we have missed it? Hard to say we have


missed an opportunity. I think we have been mistaken in calling for


the removal of Assad. That was the wrong thing to seek. What we should


have been seeking was for the regime to move its policies and try


to head off this rebellion that they now face. End of day three, a


bronze medal for Team GB in gymnastics, but disappointment in


the diving. Our lot may not be wearing Stella McCartney, but crisp


gently flamable sportswear, with the suggest from the BBC, it is


time to welcome our team taking us through a daily digest of the


action. Here is Steve Smith's 60- It has been a day of shocks and


surprises, not least in the Newsnight office, where our


Olympics coverage has been planned down to the very first detail.


David Cameron went to the games on the tube. Though his bycicle


followed behind in the zil lane, no it didn't. After criticism over


empty seats, organisers have released another 3,000 tickets to


the public, and promise more to come. The Queen's granddaughter,


Zara Philips, has put Britain's equestrians on course for a silver


medal. But Britain's gymnasts had their medal downgraded to a bronze


after an appeal by the Japanese. It was our first men's gymnastic's


medal for 100 years. There was laughter, tears, or a gently


suppressed sigh, as excitable Alan George Moldovanu snatched gold in


the men's 10m air rifle, we will all remember where we were when


that happened. We have all taken that young man to our hearts. There


is a lot more tomorrow, canoe, hockey, gymnastic, I should stand


up four our tracksuits, I spent a lot of time bidding at the Jimmy


Saville auction for these. We will see the Rolls-Royce tomorrow night.


What is a science editor's take on what we have seen so far with Team


GB. I have been looking at performance, whether we can tell


anything from the early list of medals. Most people measure


performance by the number of golds, silver, bronze medals we achieve.


We have one silver, two bronze, a long way behind America and Japan


and China with 11. Can we tell anything about performance edge


from the early tally. There is huge expectation that Team


GB will perform as well as they did at Beijing or better. How are they


doing so far. It is a slightly less good start than the officials would


have hoped for. Tom Carver, the road cyclist was -- Mark Cavendish


was supposed to catalyse the team with a victory in the road race,


but he didn't manage that. There is a long way to go and things can


change fast a mildly disappointing start. At Beijing 14 of our 19 gold


medals came from three events, sailing, cycling and rowing. Those


events have yet to run their full course, so we should be in a much


better position to judge how well Team GB is doing, by early next


week. So is there anything we can learn


from looking back at how nations perform. Scientists have found that


there is an advantage to staging the Olympics, a host effect.


This shows how Australia's share of medals increased ahead of the year


2000 as focus and investment began. This is Great Britain's share ahead


of London, it shows a similar pattern heading into our host year,


year zero. We are similar to Australia in some ways. In the


Olympics, the Sydney Olympics, they had a 5% share of the total medal


count. We had exactly the same percentage share in Beijing. By the


time of the Sydney Olympics the Australians had a bid over 6% medal


share. If we have a -- a bit over 6% share. If we have that, it


should be the same in total. Another intriguing factor could


come into play, a possible tribunal effect on a host nation's -- tribal


effect on a host nation's athletes. Sometimes as much as 60% higher


testosterone with a home crowd. Evolutionists believe that a


survival advantage was conferred on people when they had tribes


invading one's territory, they fought back. UK sport, whose job it


is to maximise performance, says it invests around �100 million a year,


to deliver success for Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes.


The official estimate is Team GB will clock up 48 medals. They have


another goal too. The number of medals we win is the easiest target


to look at, and the one people remember most of all, because we


won 47 medals in Beijing, our best games in a modern era, that is the


target people will focus on. But there are a number of measures we


need to look at. The number of sports we won meddlias in. You want


to continue to -- medals in. You want to continue to do well in


those sports, but you want to expand your port folio, and win


medals in sports we don't traditionally win medals in.


How will it play out over the next couple of weeks? It has been said


prediction is notoriously difficult, especially if it is about the


future. I'm joined by my guests now. Great of you all to join us. Thank


you for coming in. Liz Nichol, you might say we haven't been as lucky


as we might so far. Are you happy to say it is just the taking part


that counts? No, absolutely not. From a UK Sport perspective, we are


investing unapologetically in success. We realise, if in fact, if


you deliver medals in an Olympic games, you will provide


inspirational moments. What return do you want to get, what is the


medal count you have in mind? than Beijing. 47 medals in Beijing,


19 gold medal, in 11 sports. We want more medals than Beijing, at


least 48 medals in at least 12 sports. That is the official target


from the outcome of the games. we stand today, of course, it is


early days, do you think we are on that target? It is early days, only


day three, there is a lot more to come. In fact, we are doing just


fine, three fantastic medals. The medal today from the bronze medal


from the men's team gymnastics is outstanding, that is a moment in


history. That was not predicted. The bronze from Rebecca, fantastic


performance, she swam faster than Beijing and got a bronze. The rest


of the world is moving on as well. Lizzie Armistad to get the silver


in the road cycling. She was inspired by the support she had on


the way. Does this medals' table work? It works in the way that it


is an Olympic Games, and of course we are hosting it and want to do


well, people will pay a great deal of attention to it, it is easy to


measure and gauge. Does it reflect the health of the sporting body, as


a whole, no, I don't think it does. If you take two different countries,


Argentina, which game fourth in the medal table in Beijing, and China


who came first. If you were a young sports person where would you like


to be born in, Argentina, you have more sports played in the community.


Football, cricket, motor racing, tennis, there are paths to enjoy


sport, not so in China. It is natural to do well in the medal


table, we shouldn't have this view that we can gauge the health of


British sport by saying this many medals equals that good. Is there a


part of us that would be liking to be as good as China at sport?


want to be as good as we can be, in a way that reflects our own culture


here. We are investing in suck he is. There is a parallel investment


-- in success, there is a parallel investment into education. It not


just about success and medals, it is that vital interest for


youngsters in future sport. have a silver medallists here, you


have been in the middle of this kind of argument and debate, do you


think things have changed a lot? All athletes want to do their best,


the biggest stage is the Olympics. Zoe Smith didn't get a medal in the


weight lifting, but got a personal best. She will go away content,


others not, it is about how you set your standards. For me it is about


the medals, I think we will do better, I think we could get 55.


Does the home advantage help? Massively. It won't physiologically


make you fitter or stronger, but give you the stronger edge. If you


go out there, you listen to the gymnastics boys, they said the


crowd, Rebecca Adlington said she could hear the crowd. It raises


your spirits and your consciousness, that they are here for you, if it


gives you the extra couple of per cent psychologically, it could have


a detremental effect on your opponents, the underdog. Some of


them have come out wearing the headphones, does that seem to you


to be an odd way of holding back the home spirit? Some people love


to get the crowd, and thrive off the noise. Other people like their


own world, listening to music. As athletes we have rituals, maybe


that is their ritual listening to a type of music before competing.


Everybody has different ways of performing at their be. Going back


to the home crowd, I -- their best. Going back to the home crowd, I


think that helps. You have been there and done it, but home


advantage does work in some sports, we have seen graphics and data


about. That there is a danger with expectation at times in sport. Take


the example of Andy Murray in tennis, most people would agree the


great British yearning of a British champion is not helping Andy Murray.


It is a transferable principle. There are times when sportsmen,


even though they will never admit it. We are a very proud bunch,


sportsmen will never admit to weaknesses. If you got them in


there, moment of truth, they would say the expectation was difficult


to deal with. Although home advantage should play a part, there


is a danger if things become too hyped, which can happen, we know.


That I think athletes may not benefit from it. It is for an


athlete to control T I have an example, the World Championships in


Athens, I was so psyched up for that race, I was so keen, I


tatically ran the worst race of my life, I was too hyped up, I ran the


worst race of my life. It is for that athlete to control their


nerves, I think. I think expectation is a good thing,


pressure is a good thing to have. Have we reached a point of peak


performance now, certain records like the long jump has not been


bettered for 40 years now, is that as far as we can go? It is true


that what Stephen Jay Gould called the outer wall of human endeavour,


as we inch towards it, the incremental improvements are


getting smaller. With greyhounds and horses they have reached that


point. The Derby times have not improved for 50 years. There is a


point when a human being will not be able to run any faster, the laws


of oxygen exchange will go only so far. It is getting hard Tory make


very, very big jumps forward -- harder to make very, very big jumps


forward. And the testing for drugs is better. Or we have supersonic


athletes, Jonathan Edwards, awesome athlete. You mentioned gymnastics,


that is a sport where we seemed to have come from nowhere, now doing


very well, both men and women, that is not about high-tech? This is


about long-term athlete development, that the sport has actually been


working at, from its club base, through to its national level, and


international level. It is about great coaches, it is about athletes


with great talent and commitment, massive commitment. Do you pinpoint,


it is often said that we look at the sports where we think that we


can improve, we are not going to improve necessarily on the running,


we might on the sailing or rowing, high-tech sports, what happened


with gymnastics, did somebody pinpoint that, was it down to a


very good coach? Tough look at the Beth Tweddle, the inspiration she


provided to youngsters coming up through the sport. She has a


fantastic coach to help her achieve at the highest level. And the sport


has invested in coach development, we have invested in coach education,


we are trying to create more world class coaches to populate the high-


performance system here. There is a lot of factors involved in success.


But for gymnastics, this has been building over a long period of time.


And there was one point when we saw thought, actually, it is unlikely


we will be able to compete against the top Six Nations of the world.


Tonight they proved they could do it. How do you compete with a


Chinese woman who can outswim a man. That is what we are up against?


will always have extraordinary talent, occasionally showing itself.


Across the sports. We just have to actually, you can't compete with


that, there will be, for example, on Sunday, Lizzie arm misstead, she


won that -- Armisted, she won the silver medal, there was no chance


of a gold medal, because there was an outstanding Dutch athlete, who


has had great performances over the year. These moments in time will


happen, when we have the best in the world.


Thank you very much. In a moment we will be talking to


the writer, the screenwriter of the opening ceremony, and the designer


of the Olympic cauldron. One head of state, denied an


invitation to the London Olympics, was Mr Shevesheka. He was accused


of human rights, two years ago he was accused of crackdown on


protestors. Last March two men were executed after a bombing on the


underground killed 15 people. John Sweeney has travelled undercover to


investigate allegations of torture and look at the guilt of the


executed men. In Belarus the eternal flame burns to commemorate


Stalin's great victory over the Nazis, here they still goose step.


I have come undercover to investigate claims that the regime


tortures and murders its own people N April last year a bomb went off


in the Minsk Metro, killing 15 people.


Within 48 hours, President Alexander Lukashenka went on TV to


say they got the bombers, and they would face the most extreme


punishment. Their arrest was shown on prime time TV.


The names they were trying to get out of them? Dina Comalavo and


another. The following month, the secretary-


general of Interpol, Ronald Cay Noble, an American, arrived in


Minsk and braced the operation. can tell all the -- and praised the


operation. I can tell all the citizens of Belarus that this case


was involved by the high professionalism of the ministers


and internal affairs and the police, and the high-technology you have in


place, and the strong relations between internal affairs and


Interpol and countries on a bilateral and multilateral basis.


Four months later the trial started of the accomplice and the bomber.


And the guilty men were found guilty. But some in Belarus were


not convinced by what they say was a 21st century show trial. The bomb


had gone off at rush hour in October Station, the city's busiest


stop. It was Belarus's 7/7. This is the tube stop where the bombing


happened, the question is, who did it? One woman is running a lonely


campaign to prove the two bombers were innocent. We drive three hours


towards the Russian border, her home is being watched by the bell


Rusian KGB for months, she case the coast is clear, for now.


She's the mother of Vlad, the alleged bomber's accomplice. I put


it to her that the two men had faced a fair trial. TRANSLATION:


The court has not a single piece of evidence of proof, not only my son,


who was drugged into all of this, but also the other man, apart from


his confession, which he gave under torture.


For her it starts with Lukashenka. TRANSLATION: Lukashenka said the


boys had been interrogated, and by 5.00 they had already confessed.


They were interrogated without lawyers. Over that time they were


just beaten. The boys had no choice, otherwise they would have been


beaten more and more and more, until they confessed. The two men


were paraded on TV, confess to go their crimes from a psychiatric


ward. TRANSLATION: He came back into the room with a plastic remote


control in his hands, he pressed it a few times, and gave it to me to


hold. He said it was a detonator for the bomb. So why would anyone


confess to a bombing they had no part in? In these 2010 elections


were held, and yet -- in December 2010 elections were hell, and yet


again President Lukashenka claimed victory with four out of five votes.


The opposition cried foul and hit the streets.


A crackdown started, 700 arrested, including seven presidential


candidates. (gun shots) Opposition activists


were picked up by the KGB that night. This man has fled the


country, but he drew us a map of how to find what he claims is the


regime's torture centre. Right side, and left side, after


two streets from the left side you will see it.


Because I'm here undercover, we can't film openly. But I followed


Vlad's directions, and go for a stroll, along the capital's Main


Street. After one building you will see the next, after this place,


where everybody from us was imprisoned after elections. This is


the KGB head office, very grand. But behind the fancy columns lies


the secret prison. You can't see it from the street, but you can from


Google Earth. They call it the Americana, after a circular prison


in America, that Stalin's secret police admired. Where would the


alleged bombers have been held on the night of their arrest.


TRANSLATION: In the Americanca, from their arrest until the excuses,


they were held there by a KGB unit. What is it like being a guest of


the Americanca. It is a small place. It has 18 rooms. TRANSLATION:


I first got there, somebody told me to look at the ceiling, you can see


what looks like the lid of the coffin, in which you have been


buried alive. Night and day, guards wearing masks would enter the cell


and drag the prisoners out. TRANSLATION: You are talken


downstairs to a cold room, where you are lined up -- taken


downstairs to a cold room, where you are lined up, legs stretched


apart. They make sure your head is lowered and your legs are spaced


out, after that they undress you. All the others stand there as you


are striped naked. Another inmate drew us a picture of the strip


torture, he's still in Belarus. You are completely naked, and they


put you like this. If they think that you are legs are not spread


wide enough, they just give you legs, and they go even wider. Even


several seconds in this position it is not very pleasant.


Give me a flavour of the Americanca, and the BBC has decided I should


take part in a little experiment. So we go to a cold store in North


London, where the temperature is minus 24 Celsius. So the guards


forced the prisoners to strip naked, and stand in this position, spread


eagled, in minus 20, there was snow outside. In the jarg Bonn of


torture, this is a stress position -- jargon of torture, this is a


stress position. You might not think this is looking like torture,


but add the cold, and guards kicking your legs apart, and


electric cattle prods buzzing around your privates, and several


hours a day, night and day. This is torture. That is enough.


I lasted 40 seconds. I lasted 40 seconds. For the prisoners, they


had to endure that for 40 minutes. So, is it possible that the KGB


tortured confessions out of the two men. Other prisoner of the


Americanca, said they heard screams from the cells where the two men


were being held, and in the middle of the night an ambulance was


called. One of the lawyers, here in the


white shirt, started going through the CCTV evidence, praised by the


man from Interpol, and soon began to pick holes in the official


version. The time, 17.39, the bomber enters the Metro, carrying a


black bag. Clock the white mark on the bag. Now you see the white


mark,. 17.44, now you don't. There is something immediately and


obviously wrong about the official version.


17.45, the bomber is hanging around, another man walks past him, looks


at him, and the bomber sets off after him. It is as if he's taking


directions. 17.46, the bomber is apparently led by another man,


turning abruptly in front of him in the tunnel. 17.48, the bomber


walking down to the platform, where the bomb goes off. Clock the bag,


All of these questions about the CCTV were blocked by the judge.


One striking clash of evidence, the defence wanted to run, the bomber


seems tall, while Dimer is short. The Russian Security Service, the


FSB, compared the bomber on the CCTV with Dima for the court, and


the FSB's conclusion? TRANSLATION: The FSB said the man filmed with


the bag on the Metro, and Dima do not match. They are of different


heights and build. The man with the bag and Dima are different people.


No forensic evidence at all linking either man with the bomb?


TRANSLATION: No, there is no evidence. A spokesman for Interpol


denied that the presumption of innocence was breached, and


disputed our analysis of the evidence. The statement said Mr


Noble concluded that the investigation was professionally


conducted, and that the arrests solved the case of who was


criminally responsible for the bombing. Advancing one sided false


claims, it said, about murderous terrorist conduct, can only


undermine public confidence in the media. The judge dismissed the


defence case, and in March this year, they were shot with a bullet


to the back of the head. If the solicitor is right, then Lukashenka


put in the dock for this crime, two innocent men. The question remains,


if they didn't bomb the Metro, who did? What of the men in the shadows


on the CCTV? Who, in a police state, can


organise a bomb? Who is the track record of political violence? One


cannot rule out the Belarus state murdering its own people. I asked


Luba, where she found her courage? TRANSLATION: It's not bravery, it's


passion for the life of my son. I knew my son wasn't guilty. I knew


Dima wasn't guilty. But I was powerless against the authorities.


I wasn't able to do anything. I wasn't able to save the children. I


couldn't do anything. Some of you will be baffled, I guarantee, Danny


Boyle prove sized ahead of the opening ceremony, in the end the


majority were bowled over, by a performance that broke broadcasting


records. It showed us a Britain, anarchic and quietly traditional,


able to celebrate the cock-up, and funny, in both senses of the word.


We are joined by our guests, the designer of the cauldron, great to


have both of you with us, and the screenwriter for the event. Talk us


through the starting point for the ideas, where did you begin? Danny


asked me out for a cup of tea about two-and-a-half years ago. I thought


he was going to me to write a film. I said -- ask me to write fame. He


said it is not what you think it is, it is the Olympics opening ceremony.


At that point there was a small team, myself, the designer and the


little teams, we just threw ideas around in a room. It was like being


at primary school, we cut our favourite things out and made


scrapbooks and collages on the wall, and talked about what we loved


about Britain, and slowly things crystalised. Did you have, one


thing that really put this apart, of the humour, did you have a brief


to be funny? For example, the single note of Mr Bean, what was


the moment at which that was clinched? Straight away, I would


say. We didn't have a brief, but Danny came into the room and said


we have to change the game from Beijing, that was huge, the end of


punk rock, if you want to put it. Massive thing with huge numbers of


people. We have got to change the game and do something very, very


different. We have to celebrate our eccentricity, and how funny we are.


If you think about Beijing, beautiful thing, but very huge


numbers of people, very drilled. What was amazing about our


spectacle is wherever you looked people were doing something


different. That was possible because the volunteers themselves


were so creative, and brought so much to the process themselves. It


wasn't just a decision to be more individual, but that people who


came were themselves very individual. Thomas, individualist


enough to code name your cauldron, "Betty". Talk us through that one?


That was one of the technical, the producers, the problem was that


there were two or three parts of the ceremony that had to be kept


top secret, if there was correspondence that said "cauldron


on it", it wouldn't be so good. There was the dog of the --


"cauldron" on it, it wouldn't be so good. There was a dog of one of the


producers called Betty, we decided to use that. How long did it take


to build? It was built in the north of England, it was reversed in


somewhere in Yorkshire near Harrogate. It came to the maid main


stadium, and we only reers -- main stadium, we only rehearsed it at


3.00am once the performers went home. There was only ten people who


knew what it was. We are looking at the pictures now, when you saw it


on the moment, was there any doubt in your mind, were you still scared


it would work. We had rehearsed it. -- We had


rehearsed enough that I knew there was a risk. But I sort of trusted


Dany and his team. I trusted the engineers who had built it. I


trusted that we had worked through it, and it was enough times. What


were you doing? I was standing gripping a chair in the stadium,


looking down, just letting it wash over me. Because what we, normally


a cauldron is a thing stuck on the top of a stadium. When we were


originally briefed by Loughran, the -- LOCOG, the organising committee,


they said there was a bit of the roof strengthened ready to put the


thing on. You wanted it, you didn't mind that people couldn't see it


outside? The first conversation with Danny was about trying to root


a ceremony in the spectator, and with the athletes. It felt that the


act of sticking it on the roof was sort of for the rest of the world,


rather than rooting it, and the stadium itself is quite a pure


shape. To some extent it is like a temple. It felt where would you put


that antique, it is like an altar, it felt this absolute centre of


such a pure form some how felt the only place we could put it. Back do


you, would you accept that there were political choices in that


production, the revolutions were in, the empire of out, the NHS, CND,


both very graph clo displayed. Was that a dlib -- graphically


displayed? Do you mean a left-right thing? I genuinely think the


opening ceremony was a great work of art. Any great work of art will


contain contradictions, and people can take from it whatever they want.


It is absolutely fine by me for Aidan Burden to think it is left-


wing, and it is fine by me that Boris thinking Mary Poppins


represents Margaret Thatcher vanquishing the miner, they are


both completely wrong but enjoyable. If people are looking for messages,


one critic wrote it was about a Britain feeling comfortable with


itself post-empire. Was there a message as to what find of country


we are now? The message is we dropped something in there. We


tried our best and came up with lots of amazing things. I think


what it became, was the volunteers, and how much they brought to it.


The thing itself, you know, against the background where people have


been paid huge amount of money in this country, and got things very


wrong. Here were a group of 7,000 people who paid nothing at all, who


turned up night after night in the rain, and performed this amazing


miracle. I would like it if it opened a debate about how to


motivate people. Do we motivate people by money, or are the better


people who are motivated by something else. It is political in


that sense, in that something happened. It would be really good


if we thought about what that meant and what happened to us there. As


if it was a barium meal showing up what was right and what was wrong


in the country. If that was not as clearly understood by foreigner, as


to those watching at home, the quirky moments, the fish, the cart


horse, the sheep, did that matter. Boyle said people would be baffled


by it? I don't know, it had huge viewing figures in America. I think


people have embraced it. Why shouldn't you challenge people. Why


should you go for a lowest common denominator, anadyne McDonalds


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