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How Birmingham's Commonwealth Games handover show unfolded

How Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games handover show unfolded

Birmingham’s place as the Commonwealth Games host city has been announced with a huge fanfare.

An audience of one billion people stretching across the Commonwealth and indeed the globe – Canada, India, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa and many more besides – witnessed a show and a half.

They will have sat up and taken notice and it will have raised the expectation levels sky high for 2022.

We’re from Birmingham

This cheeky two-minute film was set up to shatter the image of Birmingham as just an industrial town past its best.

Starting in the forges of Black Country Museum – the film quickly switched to Birmingham’s markets, the Midland Metro, a buzzing bar and nightclub and the streets of Digbeth.




Along the way were are few familiar landmarks.

It was here that Birmingham’s modern diversity and its youth (we are the youngest city in Europe) shone through.

Also featured some young dancers from the All Saints Youth Project in Kings Heath where the film’s director Daniel Alexander is a volunteer .

Go the Distance




For someone who had never performed in front of more than a few hundred people rapper Lady Sanity owned the stage in the Carrera Stadium, Australia like a seasoned star.

Backed by her band Role Models, the 23-year-old from Erdington grasped the chance to shine – and again represent Birmingham’s youth and rich seam of talent.

He song is a rallying cry for persistence, even when people doubt you: “Who’s out here to Go distance with you / It might change your life / If no one wants to ride passenger

/ I guess it’s a solo ride.”



Lady Sanity and the Role Models before their performance

Tourist in My City

Balsall Heath born performance poet Amerah Saleh paid an emotional tribute to Birmingham – both the good and the bad, it is one city.

The poem name-checks athletes, artists, baristas and business leaders as well as cleaners, bus drivers, police officers and the homeless. They are all part of the Birmingham story.



Amerah Saleh

And jokes “they don’t believe us when they say we have more canals than Venice”

And here was the call to arms – for the city to rise up and take the limelight for a change.

“Birmingham you have stayed back too long. Told them to take the limelight for a while. They sparked coloured lights in celebration of everything but never in celebration of us.”


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The big reveal for the millions watching on television was of course that when Amerah flung the doors of the backstage area open she did not emerge into the darkness of the Gold Coast stadium, but broad daylight in Victoria Square – literally 10,000 miles away on the other side of the planet.

It was a bold and ambitious move – and executed brilliantly as we led up to the memorable finale.

Mr Blue Sky

The carefully choreographed and beautifully staged five minutes of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky was a huge show stopper. It was also a source of much relief that the rain stayed away.

Far from the months of planning spoken of by the BBC commentator – it was only a month ago, on March 7, that the audition call went out for young dancers and about 400 came forward.

But they put their all into it and made something which will linger long in the memory.




There was just too much going on – the Strictly Come Dancing glitterball at the top of the Council House steps, the acrobats leaping over giant basketballs, the robots, the people’s choir joining in the chorus and of course the fabulous drag acts draped over the piano. There were little references scattered about – Birmingham invented the vacuum cleaner so of course they were there keeping the red carpet clean.



Choreographer Rosie Kay

Choreographer Rosie Kay, from Northfield, made full use of Victoria Square’s architecture – the statue of Queen Vic, the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, the sweeping steps and of course the stunning Council House all played their part.

And it was an amazing end as the dancers all assembled for the beautiful aerial shot of #brum.




Put together the package showed a youthful, vigorous city ready to embrace the future with optimism and much good humour. Applause must go to the artistic director Martin Green and the hundreds of people who took part. They have set a very high bar for the opening ceremony – see you in four years.

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