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Cows and sheep to star in London Olympic Games opening ceremony

LOCOG via AFP - Getty Images

A handout picture released by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) on Tuesday shows a model of how London's Olympic Stadium would be transformed into a British rural scene for the opening ceremony of the games.

LONDON - The Olympic Stadium will be transformed into a British countryside meadow featuring real animals and grass during the opening ceremony, organizers said Tuesday.

With only 45 days before the spectacular show, film director and event producer Danny Boyle unveiled his ‘green and pleasant' vision that will open the games to an estimated worldwide television audience of over one billion.


More than 10,000 volunteers wearing 23,000 costumes will take part.

The ceremony is titled 'Isles of Wonder' and is said to be inspired by Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.

Read more on this story from ITV News

It will be opened with the ringing of the largest harmonically-tuned bell in the world, produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. The bell will be inscribed with the 'Isles of Wonder' speech performed by Caliban in Shakespeare's play:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again

– 'ISLE OF WONDER' ACT 3, SCENE 2, THE TEMPEST, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

The whole of the field of play in the stadium will be transformed into the rolling British countryside. Each of the four nations will be represented by their national flower: the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the flax from Northern Ireland.

Real farmyard animals will graze on the set: 12 horses, 3 cows, 2 goats, 10 chickens, 8 geese, 70 sheep and 3 sheepdogs.

Boyle explains: “The Ceremony is an attempt to capture a picture of ourselves as a nation, where we have come from and where we want to be. The best part of telling that story has been working with our 10,000 volunteers. I’ve been astounded by the selfless dedication of the volunteers, they are the purest embodiment of the Olympic spirit and represent the best of who we are as a nation.”

The show will feature 12,956 props - over 100 times more than a typical West End musical theater production – and a sound system weighing more than 50 tonnes.

ITV News is the UK partner of NBC News.

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