- Make A Difference
- Special Reports
- Maps & Data
- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
London - The London Olympics opening ceremony will be a grand spectacle - but will it be a surprise?
In a word, no.
Director Danny Boyle wants the details to stay secret and games chief Sebastian Coe has pleaded for insiders to stop leaking details of the extravaganza. But in the age of camera phones and social media, with 10,000 performers in the ceremony, thousands of Olympic security and staff and more than 10,000 journalists already at the Olympic Park, not much can be kept out of the public domain.
"Part of the modern world means you can't really do that," Boyle acknowledged about keeping secrets as he showed journalists a mock-up of the set for the opening scene of the ceremony, weeks before the event.
So, a spoiler alert: Stop reading now if you want Friday's opening ceremony to be a surprise. Stop, stop, stop.
But if you are as irresistibly curious as the rest of us, well, prepare for everything from James Bond to Lord Voldemort to a spoonful of sugar.
Boyle has revealed only selected details about the show, But since the performers started rehearsals in June at the Olympic Stadium - and an army of journalists started arriving to cover the games - a trickle of details about the 27 million pound ($42 million) opening ceremony has become a torrent.
So what do we know?
The ceremony's theme is "Isles of Wonder," inspired by William Shakespeare's play about shipwrecked castaways, "The Tempest." An actor is due to recite Caliban's speech, the one that runs "Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises." Mark Rylance, who had been due to perform the lines, pulled out after the death of his stepdaughter. Kenneth Branagh is rumored to be his replacement.
Despite Boyle's enchanted-island inspiration, few expect the man who depicted Scottish heroin addicts in "Trainspotting" and Indian slum dwellers in "Slumdog Millionaire" to deliver a sanitized image of Britain.
It sounds more like Isles of Wonder and Woe - with a big dash of British whimsy thrown in.
Boyle has said the show is "trying to show the best of us, but we're also trying to show many, many different things about our country."
The ceremony will open at 9 p.m. with the sound of a 27-ton bell - the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world - forged at London's 442-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which made London's Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.
A prerecorded segment has been filmed inside Buckingham Palace, reportedly involving Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond. If rumor is to be believed, a stuntman dressed as 007 will parachute into the stadium to start the show.
The opening sequence will evoke a pastoral idyll, the "green and pleasant land" described in William Blake's poem "Jerusalem," which has been set to music and is regarded as England's unofficial national anthem. There's a meadow, livestock, a farmer plowing his field, a cricket match - and, in a nod to Britain's plethora of rural summer music festivals, a mosh pit.
Boyle hasn't disclosed what comes next, but has said the ceremony will depict Britain's past, present and future for a global television audience estimated at 1 billion.
Aerial photographs of the set for the second section of the show depict dark buildings and smokestacks with the River Thames running through it. This is the other side of the country described in "Jerusalem" - a land of "dark satanic mills."
A third act will tackle the regeneration of east London, where the Olympics are taking place, as parkland and a creative heartland, home to many artists, designers and Internet startups.
According to the Sunday Times, one section will feature characters from children's fiction classics including "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan" - and a showdown between Voldemort, the villain of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, and a horde of flying magical nannies based on Mary Poppins.
Boyle has stressed that the ceremony is not a concert - "the real stars are the athletes" - but music will play a key role. Music heard coming from the stadium in recent days ranges from "Jerusalem" to songs by The Beatles, The Who, the Sex Pistols, and Vangelis' theme from "Chariots of Fire."
The final act will be former Beatle Paul McCartney - due to lead the audience in a sing-along of "Hey Jude."
Final touches are still being put on the show, with a final dress rehearsal on Wednesday.
There also will be a parade of athletes from the more than 200 participating nations, speeches by dignitaries - including the queen, who will officially declare the games open - and of course the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
The identity of the torchbearer who will ignite the cauldron it is the most closely guarded secret of all - and so far, that has not leaked.