Over nine days in July 2005, London became front page news across the world. In the long week that encompassed Live 8, Make Poverty History, the G8 summit, the Olympic bid win, the London bombings and the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, London's symbolism, iconography and backdrops were used again and again to drastically different ends. The city became a stage on which opposing scripts were played out. The very meaning of the capital was at stake.
In that week of dramatic extremes, Londoners openly acknowledged they were in this together. Collective jubilation ceded to collective horror and then to impressive stoicism and solidarity, as people got right back on the tube the day after the bombings: right back into London's fast-flowing cosmopolitan heart.
As a born and bred Londoner, I found it fascinating to realise that London is an idea, or rather a series of competing ideas, every bit as much as it is a real place: a product of idealism and affection, a target for political violence, and a site of consummate stage-management and spin.
We interviewed Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, Sir Matthew Pinsent, the kids from Stratford who had helped London win the bid to host this year's Olympics, Gill Hicks, a survivor of the London bombings, people involved with the Make Poverty History campaign and the Live 8 concert and a range of commentators who provide a wry, sidelong take on the week's events.
“An excellent film – gripping, moving, stylish and provocative - exactly what the BBC should be doing”.
Alan Hayling, former Head of Documentaries, BBC