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The 220,000 people who are expected to attend this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo (3rd-25th August) on the Castle Esplanade will witness one of the most unusual performance pieces in the event’s 60 year history. Sporting his famous red and white hooped jumper, it will be provided by cartoon character and arch mischief-maker, Dennis the Menace in company with comic favourite Minnie the Minx and her unique brand of mayhem.
Dennis and Minnie will perform stunts on BMX bikes during each performance this August as part of a shake-up of the long-running event and artists behind The Beano, Oor Wullie and The Broons have also created a special commemorative poster of the Tattoo, which will be distributed with all programmes for the event.
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Said Tattoo Chief Executive and producer, Brigadier David Allfrey: “These celebrated characters are a universal element in our national mix. We have grown up with comics and some of us even enjoy them into adulthood! Everyone relishes the prospect of a little menace!
"While the Tattoo seeks to entertain and inspire it is always good to not take ourselves too seriously. This year has seen so many extraordinary celebrations: Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics both to set the scale. These are all about joy and we all love a celebration.”
But, even with the prospect of a little ‘menace’, this year’s Tattoo opens with a scene from faraway times with a Pictish warrior seizing upon a shiny pebble and taking the audience to the start of a magical journey across the ages. The sound of an ancient horn – a Bronze Age carnyx – signals the appearance of the Massed Pipes and Drums and the heart stopping sight and sounds of the very essence of the event.
Bringing together the very best pipe bands from across the globe – 12 pipe bands in all – featuring the award-winning Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, The Royal Corps of Signals, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and Queen Victoria School, Dunblane. While from overseas, Melbourne’s Rats of Tobruk, the Australian Federal Police, the Manly Warringah and Scots College from Sydney, South Africa’s Cape Town Highlanders along with the Canadian Army complete the ranks of this prodigious massed pipe band.
With the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s accession to the throne as its principal theme, this year’s Tattoo also celebrates the ‘Year of Creative Scotland’ by spotlighting some of this country’s most enduring achievements.
Through dance, the audience will then be introduced to Scotland’s iconic textile – the spinning and weaving of Tweed as pipers, drummers and dancers from Queen Victoria School present an inspired dance piece with Sydney’s Scots College Pipes and Drums.A six-minute medley of music inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Brave, performed by the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland, The Queen’s Division, The King’s Division and The Royal Air Force, then carries the audience from medieval Scotland, through its agricultural age and towards the industrial era.
Thereafter, the Tattoo Highland Dancers and the Canadiana Celtic Association tell the story of Scotland’s most successful export, Scotch Whisky, from the sowing and reaping of barley, into the mash tun, on to the distilling, casking and drinking of “Uisge Beatha – The Water of Life.”
From Australia, the Band of the Australian Defence Force present a selection of traditional and contemporary music tracing the transition from colonial times to present day.
There follows a tribute to Scotland’s engineering pedigree with a piece of dance inspired by the work in a foundry from the OzScot Australia dance troupe and music by Tap Dogs’ Andrew Wilkie.
Comic-strip superheroes are then celebrated by the United States Naval Forces Europe Band highlighting the external battle between good and evil and including some iconic local talent.
The story of rapid growth in communications and computing technology, helped by development of microprocessors and the Internet, is told through the precision drumming of sure-fire international crowd-pleasers Top Secret Drum Corps from the Swiss city of Basel.
Brigadier Allfrey said: “I am thrilled with our international guests. As ever the Tattoo is proud to present some of the very best!”
Highlights of the 2012 event will also include an amazing display of precision drill by The Guard of His Majesty the King of Norway, whose skill with bayonet tipped rifles has thrilled spectators on eight previous occasions.
The climax of the evening is an orchestral re-enactment of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation of 1953, concluded by an electrifying arrangement of Diamonds Are Forever and the audience joining hands for a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne – a brilliant spectacle of colour and sound that will leave spectators spellbound.
The Tattoo’s Chief Executive remarked: “Diamonds are forever and I would encourage everyone to dust off their tiaras, their bracelets and their earrings and… bring out a bit of bling! Edinburgh at festival time is a springboard into a splendid Scottish summer for our visitors. Let us all show them a good time.
“Of course, all of this would not be possible without the support of everyone who buys our tickets, the talented cast, our core team in Market Street, some expert contractors and our wonderful sponsors. And of course, Defence and our Armed Forces – in effect our principal sponsor,” he concluded.
• Some tickets for the 2012 Tattoo (3-25 August), priced £23 to £59, can still be obtained at www.edintattoo.co.uk/tickets or acquired by telephone on +44 (0)131 225 1188 or in person from the Tattoo Ticket Sales Office at 34 Market Street in Edinburgh.