By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - Danny Boyle, the man overseeing the opening ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics, revealed on Friday that it will be called "Isles of Wonder" and involve a big bell and lots of nurses.
The latter was a tribute to the National Health Service, a public organization the film director said Britons took particular pride in, while the title came from arguably the greatest of all playwrights, William Shakespeare.
A giant bell cast especially for the ceremony, which is in exactly six months' time, will ring out to mark the beginning of festivities.
Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of "Slumdog Millionaire," told reporters he was aiming for a less spectacular show than some recent games, in part as a result of budget constraints.
"We wanted to make the feel of the opening ceremony ... intimate and personal," he said.
"We didn't want to slavishly be bossed about by the TV audience, which is a billion people and it is not insignificant.
"But we wanted the 80,000 people who were lucky enough to be in there (the stadium) to be the conduit through which you feel this experience."
His idea was to emulate Sydney's opening ceremony in 2000 rather than that of Beijing in 2008.
"Obviously the spectacle of Beijing was just breathtaking, the scale of it, and the beauty of Athens (2004) is very, very inspiring, but I have to say Sydney is something that has inspired us because Sydney got some of the feel of a people's games.
"The reduction in scale is inevitable," he added.
OFFICIALS DEFEND SOARING BUDGET
Stephen Daldry, in charge of all four Olympic ceremonies -- the opening and closing of the Olympic and Paralympic Games -- defended the government's decision to roughly double the total budget to over 80 million pounds ($127 million).
"Even with the extra investment from government to the ... 40 million which existed for ceremonies in the original bid, London will be spending a lot less, considerably less, than was spent in the last two summer games," Daldry said.
Sebastian Coe, London 2012 chair, added that TV advertising and other revenue from the ceremonies was estimated to be worth between two and five billion pounds.
Despite the spending constraints, some 10,000 performers have already been recruited for the ceremonies and more are being sought. The PA system will be one million watts, and 25,000 costumes will be on display.
Boyle said the title of the ceremony had been inspired by a speech made by Caliban in Shakespeare's "The Tempest," the words of which would be inscribed on the bell.
Asked to explain his decision to honor the NHS, a politically charged topic in Britain amid budget cuts, he replied: "You sit there when you start this process and you think, 'what is unique about us?' ... and you're trying to capture some of that."
There would be dress rehearsals in a full stadium before the opening, meaning leaks were a risk, and the live ceremony had the "jeopardy" of things going wrong, officials said.
There will be a pre-show of about 50 minutes on July 27 broadcast inside Britain before the bell opens the ceremony proper at 9 p.m. local time.
Organizers said they hoped to keep it down to three hours, although protocol, including the walk-past of thousands of athletes, meant it would be a tough task.
Asked how he hoped to achieve this, Boyle replied: "(Music directors) Underworld are making sure the marching music is at least 120 beats a minute."
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)