London2012’s Paralympics got started last night with an opening ceremony which included Professor Stephen Hawking, Queen Elizabeth II and Gandalf himself – only this time in the role of Prospero.  The Tempest has been a running theme for London2012 – the bell housed in the Olympic Stadium and rung in July’s opening ceremony  is inscribed with a line from Shakespeare’s play, ‘Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,’ and in the Olympic closing ceremony actor Timothy Spall (as Winston Churchill!) gave the speech from which that line is taken.  Continuing the theme, Sir Ian appeared in a stunning blue and golden robe, holding one of Prospero’s books, and bid actress Nicola Miles-Wildin, in the role of Miranda, to ‘shine your light on the beautiful diversity of humanity.’

Diverstiy was appropriately and wonderfully represented in this ceremony, with 141 disabled performers taking part, including 27 wheelchair users – 6 of whom were flown into the stadium in golden chairs!  Sir Ian was quoted in British press as saying, ‘I’m the least sporty person I know, but thrilled to have a small part to play in  the Paralympic opening ceremony in praise of endeavour and enlightenment.’

You can read a description of the ceremony and Sir Ian’s role here, and can see some highlights here.