Frank Cottrell Boyce: 'St Helens’ DNA was woven into Olympic Games Opening Ceremony'

'St Helens’ DNA was woven into Olympic Games Opening Ceremony'. Picture by Marc Aspland/NOPP

Frank Cottrell Boyce

St Helens former coat of arms, featuring the motto Ex Terra Lucem.

First published in News St Helens Star: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , News Editor

AN acclaimed author has described how St Helens’ old motto, Ex Terra Lucem, was woven into the DNA of the breathtaking Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who grew up here and was educated in the town, was the writer for the stunning spectacle masterminded by the creative genius of Danny Boyle.

Confirmation that our former Latin motto (seen above) – meaning ‘Out of the earth came light’ – was used in the London 2012 opening emerged over the weekend and was greeted with immense pride by people of the town.

Now Cottrell Boyce has given an insight into the remarkable influence the phrase had on inspiring the creation of the amazing cauldron where the Olympic Flame burns.

He told the Star: “We used St Helens’ old town motto – it was on our noticeboard and featured in our Olympic programme.

"At one point – I can’t be exactly sure what did and didn’t stay in the final version – a piece of music called Caliban’s Dream had a choir singing Ex Terra Lucem.

“Sculptor Thomas Heatherwick who made the Olympic cauldron talked to us quite a lot and saw that phrase. I think that is from where the very beautiful idea of the cauldron came from – it starts with this light on the floor and then rises up just like the motto – Ex Terra Lucem – out of the earth came light.

“That motto was on our noticeboard from day one and made it all the way to the Olympic programme.

“So there was a little tribute to St Helens, the town’s motto was woven into the DNA of the Olympic Games.”

The author, who has known Boyle since the filmmaker turned his book Millions into a movie in 2004, says the creative team had sought to inject qualities such as “humour, eccentricity and anarchy” into the ceremony.

The former pupil of St Bartholemews Primary School in Rainhill and West Park secondary school will go down in history as the man who wrote the most famous line of the ceremony.

In a short film recorded at Buckingham Palace and screened to the millions watching the Games' opening on Friday night, James Bond (played by the actor Daniel Craig) was seen visiting the Queen.

It was Cottrell Boyce's task of writing the line: “Her Majesty... Good evening, Mr Bond.”

In an interview with The Times, the author explained how set designer Mark Tildesley had come up with the idea.

Cottrell Boyce said: “We said to the Palace: ‘We can cut this quite cleverly or use a body double or whatever.

"But they said ‘No, she really wants to do it. It’s the first time she’s ever acted.’ So I had to write the script. I had to find out whether you put ‘The Queen’ or ‘Her Majesty’.”

St Helens’ remarkable connections to the ceremony stretched further. A fold-out picture spread of the Antony Gormley artwork ‘Field for the British Isles’, which includes 40,000 terracotta figures featured in the official programme along with the event’s title, ‘Isles of Wonder’.

The figures were handmade by 100 local people, aged seven to 70, at Sutton High School in St Helens in 1993, using local Ibstock clay, and the scenes were recreated at St Helens College.

Ex Terra Lucem featured on St Helens’ coat of arms until 1974 boundary changes (when it was replaced by Prosperitas in Excelsis).


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Comments (1)

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10:03am Mon 6 Aug 12

papyt says...

its a pity the council dropped the emblem years ago,in the name of progress!!! and we ended up with a doodle done on an envelope.
its a pity the council dropped the emblem years ago,in the name of progress!!! and we ended up with a doodle done on an envelope. papyt
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