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Six degrees

Mark Peters

 

Stephen Daldry, the award-winning English film and theatre director, heads the creative team behind the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics, which open in London's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. Hong Kong wheelchair fencer and six-time medallist Chan Yiu-chong will be one of 4,000 athletes taking part. After the end of a 13-year gay relationship, Daldry (pictured), seeking to start a family, secretly married one of his oldest female friends. His parental yearning may have been ignited by the "surrogate father" role he adopted on the set of his directorial debut, Billy Elliot, towards the movie's teenage star, Jamie Bell …

The 26-year-old will be forever remembered for his career-defining role as the working-class boy who pursues his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Bell's Bafta-winning performance at the age of 14 was made even more poignant by his blue-collar upbringing, which bore similarities to the movie's feel-good story line. Dancing his way to Hollywood from theatre school in northeast England, Bell also played the lead in Steven Spielberg's 2011 film The Adventures of Tintin, based on the famous comic books of Georges Remi …

The Belgian author and illustrator published under the name Hergé. Described as the actual "personification of Belgium" and a national hero, Remi's early stories have been criticised over the years for alleged anti-Semitic themes. Nonetheless, in 2006, the Hergé Foundation, formed to look after the artist's posthumous estate, received the Light of Truth award for the book Tintin in Tibet. An accolade awarded for contributions to the fight for human rights in Tibet, it was jointly won that year by Archbishop Desmond Tutu …

An integral voice of the South African anti-apartheid movement in the mid-1970s, Tutu celebrated his 80th birthday last year with a church service and picnic with close friends. Known for his irrepressible laughter, Tutu was visibly upset by the absence of one particular old friend. He accused President Jacob Zuma's government of kowtowing to pressure from China by delaying an entry visa to one of the invitees, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama …

In an attempt to bring fresh ideas to the monastic system, the 77-year-old in July appointed Swiss-born Nicholas Vreeland as the abbot of India's Rato Monastery, making him the first Westerner to hold the position. A strong believer in connecting Tibetan tradition with the Western world, the Dalai Lama helped form Tibet House US in New York in 1987. A cultural embassy to champion Tibetan heritage, it was co-founded by professor Robert Thurman, alleged gerbil enthusiast Richard Gere and minimalist composer Philip Glass …

Regarded as one of the late-20th century's most influential and prolific composers, Glass won his first Golden Globe award in 1999 for his film score to The Truman Show. The satirical comedy centred on the falseness of reality television featured a cameo by Glass, as a sound controller. In 2002, he was again nominated for best original score, this time for an Academy Award for The Hours, a critically acclaimed movie directed by Stephen Daldry.

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