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Olympic Torch Relay 2012: Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders carry flame in Sloane Square

By // News | Olympic Torch Relay 2012: Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders carry flame in Sloane Square
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By Alex Horlock

PUBLISHED: 05:21 EST, 26 July 2012 | UPDATED: 11:04 EST, 26 July 2012

  • Stars of hit sitcom take up mantle in relay as they pass through Sloane Square
  • Comedian Walliams 'humbled' as he carries torch through streets of Islington, north London
  • On Day 69 of torch relay flame is set to visit some of the most recognisable sights across the capital
  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set to witness flame passing by Buckingham Palace this afternoon
  • Huge crowds gather at St Paul's, Camden Lock and the Globe Theatre to receive torch bearers
  • Who will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday still to be revealed
  • Crowds gather in Hyde Park for finale concert to celebrate flame's arrival
  • On Tuesday two men took torch to new heights as they leapt from a plane at 15,000ft

Joanna Lumley and Absolutely Fabulous co-star Jennifer Saunders divided torch-carrying duties as it passed through Sloane Square, on a day when the flame was paraded in front of a number of London's most iconic landmarks.

The pair smiled and waved to the hundreds of spectators who lined the route to cheer them on, as they completed the leg in a quick walk.

The women still had time to stop and soak up the atmosphere, as they struck up poses reminiscent of when Lumley and Saunders played Patsie and Edina in the hit sitcom.

Absolutely Fabulous day to bear torch: Joanna Lumley (right) and Jennifer Saunders carried the torch through Sloane Square on the penultimate day of the relay

Absolutely Fabulous day to bear torch: Joanna Lumley (right) and Jennifer Saunders carried the torch through Sloane Square on the penultimate day of the relay

Lumley and Saunders helped the torch on its way to see an even more grand sight than the streets of Chelsea, as the flame is to pass through the grounds of Buckingham Palace in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge later this afternoon.

By the time the ladies had their hands on the flame on Day 69 of the relay, the torch had already gone past a host of impressive London landmarks such as St Paul's, Camden Lock and the Museum of London.

Tomorrow the torch will enter the Olympic Park, and will be used to light the cauldron. At least that's one part of creative director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony that isn't enshrined in mystery.

Crowds began to gather throughout the afternoon at Hyde Park, where a finale concert is to take place in celebration of the torch's arrival.

Standing in wait: Fans gathered this afternoon at Hyde Park as they prepare to watch the celebratory finale concert

Standing in wait: Fans gathered this afternoon at Hyde Park as they prepare to watch the celebratory finale concert

Here we go: The sun was beating down as the concert began and the fans were finally satisfied

Here we go: The sun was beating down as the concert began and the fans were finally satisfied

Rapper Dizzee Rascal and boy band The Wanted are sure to make their fans' wait worthwhile, as they prepare to wow the waiting crowds, however they will have to wait a bit longer if they are to see the flame.

The torch is not due to arrive at the concert for handover until 10:20pm after acts like Wretch 32 have finished their performances.

Television icon Sir Bruce Forsyth larked about with the flame in front of the BBC White City Television Centre this afternoon, and the 84-year-old showed once more just how much of a showman he is.

Earlier in the day, fellow sitcom star and comedian David Walliams was 'humbled' to carry the Olympic torch through Islington.

Sea of people: Lumley and Saunders can barely be seen for the people as they paraded through the west London streets

Sea of people: Lumley and Saunders can barely be seen for the people as they paraded through the west London streets

Striking a pose: The comedy stars went for a jaunty walk with the torch and seemed to be enjoying every minute of it

Party atmosphere: The torch has been followed by joyous crowds all day

Party atmosphere: The torch has been followed by joyous crowds all day

Walliams set off from the town hall in the centre of Islington while being cheered on by an appreciative audience.

The co-creator of Little Britain was surprised and delighted to have even been asked to carry the torch, and said that although jogging was not his forte, running and waving is far easier than swimming and waving.

Walliams has raised a great deal of money for various charities by undertaking gruelling long-distance swimming challenges.

Here he is! Sir Bruce Forsyth larked about with the torch in front of the BBC Television Centre in White City

Here he is! Sir Bruce Forsyth larked about with the torch in front of the BBC Television Centre in White City

Proud: David Walliams carried the Olympic flame from Islington's town hall on the penultimate day of the relay

Proud: David Walliams carried the Olympic flame from Islington's town hall on the penultimate day of the relay

Passing it on: Walliams (left) handed the torch over to the next bearer, Philip Packer, as it continues on its way to Stratford

Passing it on: Walliams (left) handed the torch over to the next bearer, Philip Packer, as it continues on its way to Stratford

On one of the glitzier days of the torch relay, the torch was then to pass through the grounds of Buckingham Palace, witnessed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and the West End a day before its 70-day, 8,000-mile journey comes to a close.

Walliams was simply glad to have been a part of it.

Charity fundraiser Walliams carried the flame at around 8.30am outside Islington Town Hall, as it made its way towards St Paul's Cathedral.
Walliams said: 'I felt really humbled to be a part of it. This torch and this flame is bigger than anybody out there and there's something about the spirit and I really got a sense of that running along.

'You can't really get lost on Upper Street and I had a wonderful response. I was thrilled to be asked to do it, especially so near to the Olympics starting.'

What a view! The torch is set to see some of London's most memorable sights... all in one day. Here it is outside St Paul's Cathedral

What a view! The torch is set to see some of London's most memorable sights... all in one day. Here it is outside St Paul's Cathedral

Picturesque: Kevin Craig (right) passes the Olympic flame to John Elbrow (left) outside St Paul's Cathedral on the bright morning

Picturesque: Kevin Craig (right) passes the Olympic flame to John Elbrow (left) outside St Paul's Cathedral on the bright morning

Mr Elbrow then paraded the torch around St Paul's as the gleeful crowd watched him pass

Mr Elbrow then paraded the torch around St Paul's as the gleeful crowd watched him pass

The 40-year-old, whose fundraising feats include swimming the English Channel, the River Thames and the Straits of Gibraltar, added: 'I'm not a natural runner but it's much easier to run and wave than swim and wave. When I was swimming the Thames there were people lining the banks so I had to stop to wave to them and it slowed me down.

'It was fantastic to be a part of it, I've been looking forward to it for ages. You get to keep the tracksuit, which is the most important thing. You have to buy the torch. There was a lovely response and I know I'm only a small part of it but it felt very special.

'I'm not a natural jogger, let alone runner, but it's only 300 metres so I did manage it. I started off walking, then I went into a jog, then I thought I would show off and started running and then it was all over. I'm glad it wasn't much further.'

The torch's journey began shortly before 7am with Clive Woodward, Team GB's deputy chef de mission and manager of the England 2003 World Cup Rugby winners, starting the relay from the Roundhouse in Camden.

Water bound: The torch was carried by Paris Walker on a barge on Camden Lock, as it was guarded by some young kayakers

Water bound: The torch was carried by Paris Walker on a barge on Camden Lock, as it was guarded by some young kayakers

Going somewhere? The flame also arrived at St Pancras rail station before its royal appointment at Buckingham Palace later today

Going somewhere? The flame also arrived at St Pancras rail station before its royal appointment at Buckingham Palace later today

Good day out? Robert Swannell holds the flame at the Museum of London

Good day out? Robert Swannell holds the flame at the Museum of London

Scout volunteer Jon Sayer will have the honour of carrying the flame to the gates of the Queen's official London home this evening, when he will meet the Duchess.

The 33-year-old, described as an inspirational helper who saved the life of a man who had jumped into a river swollen with rainwater last year, was chosen to take part in the relay after the Duchess asked for a fellow Scout to participate in this prestigious leg of the event.

Mr Sayer, from Todmorden in West Yorkshire, is one of three volunteers helping to carry the Olympic flame through the palace the day before the Queen officially opens the Games.

William nominated his charity Mountain Rescue to take part and John Hulse was given the honour, and Wai-Ming Lee from MapAction was picked after Prince Harry, the organisation's royal patron, put it forward.

Patient: A man waits in Brixton to see the torch as it headed south of the river for a detour

Patient: A man waits in Brixton to see the torch as it headed south of the river for a detour

Privilege: Walliams (left) and other torch bearers, like Kelvin Graig (right), carried the torch through the streets with pride

The three royals are ambassadors for Team GB and ParalympicsGB and will be joined at the leg by 40 athletes from the Team GB Ambition Programme, which aims to encourage future sports stars.

Elsewhere in the capital, celebrities including rugby heroes Lawrence Dallaglio and Lewis Moody will carry the flame, as well as surprise guests like Jennifer Saunders.

Meanwhile, mystery still surrounds the identity of the person who will light the Olympic flame at tomorrow’s opening ceremony, but Locog chief executive Paul Deighton said that the final choice was surprisingly easy.

Mr Deighton, who sat on the panel which made the selection, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was surprising how we reached unanimity pretty quickly.

'I think when everyone sees our choice last night they will understand why we made it.'

Drop in on the Globe: Ify Egesi had the honour of taking the torch to see the interior of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Drop in on the Globe: Ify Egesi had the honour of taking the torch to see the interior of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Crowds gathered inside the theatre to see a slightly different spectacle than they were accustomed to

Crowds gathered inside the theatre to see a slightly different spectacle than they were accustomed to

Earlier in the week, Chris McCann, 50, leapt 15,000ft out of a plane above Peterborough, brandishing an official Games torch.

The beacon had earlier been carried through Norwich by official torch bearer James Colley, 23, who jumped alongside Chris on Tuesday afternoon. 

They plummeted in free fall for one minute before deploying their parachutes and it then took five more minutes to reach the ground.

Chris, who is a parachuting instructor, said it was the 'strangest' thing he had ever done.

The father-of-four-said said: 'It was an amazing thing to do.

Let it shine: Daniel McCubbin (left) and Luke Corduner (right) carried the torch inside London St Pancras station

'It has to be the strangest thing I have ever leapt out of a plane with and I have done more than 8,000 jumps.

'It was actually quite hard to hold as it altered my wind resistance. Up there the forces are also a lot stronger so it was difficult to keep a grip of it.

'But it was tethered to my arm - the last thing we wanted to do was drop the thing from that high up.

'James came up with the idea after carrying the torch through Norwich but he is not experienced enough to hold it so I had to jump with him.

'It's great we must be the first to have ever jumped with the Olympic torch.'

Dizzy heights: Chris McCann (right) and official torch bearer James Colley took the flame with then on the 15,000ft sky dive

Dizzy heights: Chris McCann (right) and official torch bearer James Colley took the flame with then on the 15,000ft sky dive

James who is studying Chemistry at the University of East Anglia, said: 'It was a bit of a crazy idea but I am glad we did it.

'It was great running with the torch but this was even better.'

Photographer Mark Harris, 36, jumped with the pair and took the amazing snaps.

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