Legendary Birmingham band Duran Duran are headlining the opening ceremony celebrations at the Commonwealth Games 2022 tonight.

Steven Knight, the creative force behind the BBC smash-hit drama series Peaky Blinders, is also on hand as executive producer of the opening ceremony and says he has a few surprises for the audience.

World famous music group Duran Duran – which consists of band members Simon Le Bon (lead singer), John Taylor (bassist), Nick Rhodes (keyboardist), and Roger Taylor (drummer) – are set to ignite the stage at The Alexander stadium in Perry Barr on Thursday night (28 July).

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) will also join Duran Duran to delight a crowd of 30,000 people as the Commonwealth Games 2022 opening ceremony is beamed around the globe to an audience of billions.

Speaking about the event, Simon Le Bon said: “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is a momentous event for the great city of Birmingham. And we in Duran Duran are honoured to be a part of it in our home town.”

Drummer Roger Taylor, added: “We are so proud to be returning to our home town to close the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

“It is a true honour to be part of a global event that will bring sportspeople of all cultural backgrounds around the world together as one. Another milestone in a most incredible year for us.”

The executive producer of the highly-anticipated event is none other than Birmingham’s Steven Knight who has been delighting television audiences with his drama series Peaky Blinders.

Steven Knight unveiled an epic mural to herald the arrival of the new Peaky Blinders seriesRangzeb Hussain
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is the executive producer of the Commonwealth Games 2022 opening ceremony

The opening ceremony, which is expected to last for over 3 hours, will boast a spectacular and emotional story according to Knight.

“A lot of opening ceremonies are visually spectacular but emotionally quite timid, I think,” said Knight. “But this one is very emotional.

“It’s got a story to tell. It’s about the people of Birmingham. So it’s the story of what the city has achieved, and how it’s achieved it by the people that are here.

“It feels like it’s Birmingham’s turn to shine – and this show certainly shines.”

However, when questioned whether his world famous flat cap-wearing Peaky Blinders might make an appearance during the opening ceremony in Perry Barr, Knight coyly refused to confirm or refute the possibility.

Alexander Stadium will house up to 30,000 spectators at each Commonwealth Games sessionBirmingham 2022
Alexander Stadium will house up to 30,000 spectators at each Commonwealth Games session

The epic ceremony will employ around 2,000 performers to showcase the story of Birmingham’s past and present, and also touch upon links with the 72 countries which are participating in the sporting event.

700 choir members will join the CBSO for a water ballet sequence which will include dancers from Birmingham Royal Ballet, inclusive dance company Critical Mass, and Elmhurst Ballet School.

Beyond Duran Duran and the possibility of Birmingham’s Peaky Blinders making an appearance at the opening ceremony, there’s also other delights on offer to tantalise the audience.

Iqbal Khan, the artistic director of the opening ceremony, also promises something very special, and humorous, which he hopes will connect with people here in the the UK and around the world.

Khan, born in the Small Heath area of Birmingham to Pakistani parents, is a renowned drama and opera director who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

“Think of the show like a concept album,” he said. “Each track has an extraordinary crescendo and iconic moments throughout. So I’m hoping that we don’t just have one or two [memorable moments], but that we have many during the show.

“We have amazing dream sequences, cultural parables and humour – massive subversive humour. We have a massive lemon hot air balloon that flies in with Ginny Lemon, the drag artist.”

William Shakespeare, lexicographer Samuel Johnson, composer Edward Elgar and members of the Lunar Society (a collective of Birmingham industrialists and scientists from the 18th Century) are due to make special guest appearances as giant puppets.

Artistic Director of the opening ceremony Iqbal Khan hopes to share the story of BirminghamRSC
Artistic Director of the opening ceremony Iqbal Khan (left) hopes to share the story of Birmingham

Khan revealed a story thread which he hopes will connect with the audience. The concept will be to introduce 72 young people, from each of the countries and territories taking part in the sporting event, and share with them the story of Birmingham’s diverse history.

Khan explained his idea: “We introduce them to its history of innovation and its more modern history of integration and immigration.

“We tell the story and we don’t reduce it to a moment in a float parade. We build it authentically, centrally into our show.

“Birmingham is ‘the premier Commonwealth city’. It’s a city that is a reflection of its Commonwealth communities. I know that. It’s my story, in many ways. That is exactly the journey that I’ve gone on and my family have gone on.”

The Queen's Baton has been touring Commonwealth nations before its return to Birmingham ahead of the Commonwealth GamesBirmingham 2022
The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony promises to be spectacular night of music and a celebration of Birmingham

Khan believes the Commonwealth is not a cause for celebration, or joy, for some communities due to its historical connections to the horrors of colonialism and imperialism.

He added: “I think it has been problematic, and I can completely understand people being negative about the past of the Commonwealth idea.

“But that’s not where it is at the moment. It’s evolving. It is embracing a different mindset, a different paradigm. And that, for me, is all healthy and all to be celebrated.

“It is important to see modern Birmingham reflected on the pitch at the Alexander Stadium, where the ceremony will take place.

“I was very keen to make it as authentically as I could, and to ensure that lots of different communities that maybe sometimes don’t feel like these parties are for them, that they feel included in this experience.

“It’s so vibrant, it’s so vivid, this place. It’s moving so quickly. And I think it’s time to make a noise about it. Not just its past, but about its present as well.”

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