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Rule Britannia: Olympic closing ceremony explained

Sunday - 8/12/2012, 4:36pm  ET

By JILL LAWLESS
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - The closing ceremony of the Olympics will be a global party, with a distinctively British flavor. Organizers say it will be "a celebration of all that's good about London, British people, our music and our culture."

Here's a guide to some of the key elements:

FROM ELGAR TO ADELE

Organizers say the ceremony will be a celebration of British music "from Elgar to Adele." Many viewers will have heard of Adele, the big-voiced singer who won six Grammys with her album "21." Edward Elgar was the composer of the "Pomp and Circumstance" marches and the "Enigma Variations." His composition "Nimrod," regarded as quintessentially English, was played at the opening ceremony of the London Games _ one of several elements linking the first night of the Olympics with the last.

From there, the ceremony explodes in a kaleidoscope of musicians and eras _ from 1960s Mods with The Who, to the 1990s "girl power" of the Spice Girls.

A WAY WITH WORDS

The ceremony will pay tribute to Britain's rich literary heritage, with a montage of newspaper headlines that turn out to be lines from a millennium of classics, from the Anglo-Saxon ballad "Beowulf" to works by Geoffrey Chaucer, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens _ and of course William Shakespeare. Lines from his play "The Tempest" _ "Be not afeard: The isle is full of noises" _ inspired director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. Expect them to echo again here.

A FLAIR FOR FASHION

Visually, the show will celebrate British verve in art and design, from world-famous fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood _ and supermodels such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell _ to Brit-art icons such as Damien Hirst. A country where the sky and the architecture are both often gray loves a riot of color, so expect surreal and psychedelic visuals.

COME DANCING

Who says Britain doesn't have rhythm? Among the 4,000 performers in the closing ceremony are acrobats and gymnasts, ballet dancers, Bhangra performers and even a spot of Morris dancing _ a traditional but much-ridiculed English folk dance performed by groups in bell-fringed white costumes.

COMEDY CLASSICS

British humor has a big role in the closing ceremony, with an appearance by Eric Idle of iconoclastic comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus. Expect surreal visual juxtapositions as he sings "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," the jaunty but sardonic ditty from the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian."

There is also a tribute to the much-loved sitcom "Only Fools and Horses," whose central character, Del Boy Trotter, has become an iconic Londoner. He's an irrepressible Cockney market trader bustling around in his battered, three-wheeled Robin Reliant but always just one dodgy deal away from striking it rich.

THEIR FINEST HOUR

These games have brought an outpouring of London pride to a city that doesn't go in much for civic boasting.

The ceremony would not be complete without reference to another momentous chapter in its history, and to the man many regard as Britain's greatest leader, Winston Churchill.

Most Britons feel a swell a pride at Churchill's rallying words in 1940 as Britain bravely faced the prospect of a Nazi invasion: "This was their finest hour."

The "Blitz spirit" of resilient endurance that got Britain through World War II bombing has become a much-treasured national myth _ a cliche, maybe, but one rooted in truth.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)