An estimated one billion television viewers worldwide are thought to have tuned in to Danny Boyle’s £27 million, epic opening ceremony for the Olympics 2012 last night as thousands of tourists from around the world have arrived in London.
The three-and-a-half-hour show, featuring 7,500 volunteers, proved to be an instant hit, with the British sense of humour and eccentricity playing a pivotal role.
Iconic images of London and Britain were beamed to the world, and all four countries of the UK were represented.
The field at the stadium in Stratford, east London, was transformed into a green meadow, with horses, sheep, chickens, ducks and geese on set.
The great revolutions in British society up to the Industrial Revolution were played out to dramatic music and drumming.
Muhammad Ali was among flagbearers who carried the Olympic Flag into the Stadium, while Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins kicked off the celebrations, ringing the giant Olympic Bell
A quirky film was shown, featuring an unlikely meeting between the Queen and agent 007 James Bond, AKA Daniel Craig.
“Good evening Mr Bond,” the Queen said in the clip, before they left climbed into a helicopter to head towards the Olympic Stadium.
Cyclist Mark Cavendish’s bid to claim Team GB’s first gold is under way after the road race - taking in streets in London and Surrey - began on The Mall.
Rowan Atkinson’s misfit character Mr Bean made a surprise appearance, performing with the London orchestra, and cheating his way to victory in an entertaining Chariot’s of Fire sketch.
10,000 athletes from 204 countries around the world paraded around the hall.
There were huge cheers as Usain Bolt led the Jamaican team and of course, for Team GB.
British mega-band Arctic Monkeys performed their popular ‘you look good on the dancefloor’ anthem, followed by a rendition of the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’.
In a speech watched around the world, Games chief Jacques Rogge said: “The Olympic Games are coming home tonight.”
LOCOG Chair, Seb Coe said: ‘The athletes competing at the Olympic Games have arrived in London to give the performances of their lives. We wanted to provide a very British welcome for them and the rest of the world. Danny Boyle has created a show of memories and moments that will last a lifetime for people across the UK and the world.’
David Beckham dramatically transported the flame via speedboat to Stratford before handing the torch to five time gold medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave.
The Queen then declared the London Olympics officially open, before seven young athletes lit the ceremonial flame.
Outside the fireworks could be seen for miles around. Sir Paul McCartney then closed the show with Beatles classic Hey Jude.
Artistic Director of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle said: ‘Our show was really the volunteer’s show. If you want to judge us as an island, these people are the best of us, and we hope the feeling of the show was a celebration of their generosity.’
Despite last minute price drops, many hotels are seeing record occupancy levels, with virtually all the tickets for two weeks of sport sold out ahead of time.