Olympic spotlight shines on St Andrews

Rowan Atkinson at London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Photo: Andy Hooper/NOPP
Rowan Atkinson at London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Photo: Andy Hooper/NOPP

ST ANDREWS’ famous West Sands beach was brought to a huge audience once again last week when it featured as the setting for one of the most popular scenes in the spectacular Olympic Games opening ceremony.

A worldwide audience of more than a billion people watched Danny Boyle’s amazing show which celebrated all that’s good about Great Britain.

Central to the show was Boyle’s homage to the National Health Service and the UK music scene as well as his grand depiction of the industrial revolution.

But there was also room for some humour.

One of the funniest sequences featured the popular comedy character Mr Bean character, played by Rowan Atkinson.

Bored playing with the London Symphony Orchestra, Mr Bean imagines himself taking part in the famous Chariots of Fire opening scene on the West Sands.

The sketch was so popular it produced the biggest spike in mentions of the event on Twitter.

Rowan Atkinson is believed to have visited St Andrews in May when the scenes were filmed.

But with director Danny Boyle determined to keep the details of his show under wraps until the big event, the film crew were keeping tight-lipped when they showed up on the West Sands to film the scenes.

However the Citizen managed to get on the beach and get a few pictures of the scene.

And when some ‘athletes’ were spotted leaving their trailer in full 1920s running kit, it was clear Chariots of Fire was being recreated in some form.

East Neuk councillor Donald Macgregor was one of many who enjoyed the Mr Bean spoof when watching the opening ceremony.

Councillor Macgregor took part in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and assembled a group of about a dozen local runners to be extras in Charriots of Fire.

“I liked what they done with it, it was funny,” he told the Citizen this week.

“And I can remember when the original was filmed - I remember it well.

“Chariots of Fire has done a lot of good for St Andrews and to this day I think some people visit the town to see the beach where that scene was filmed.

“I was involved in getting the extras down to the beach and I noticed in the opening ceremony they used their own extras as well.

“It’s great to know that that Chariots of Fire is so recognisable to people all these years on.”