London Games open in style

  • Last Updated: July 28 2012, 8:35 BST

The Queen turned Bond girl and some of Britain's greatest Olympians teamed up with young athletes to light the Olympic Stadium flame as the London 2012 Games opened in spectacular fashion on Friday night.

  • The world was treated to a spectacular show
  • Sir Steve Redgrave hands over the flame to the young athletes 
  • The Olympic cauldron is formed by special copper petals 
  • Which come together to burn brightly in the stadium 
  • The Queen earlier made a speech to open the Games 
  • Fireworks light up the night sky 

In a block-busting opening ceremony there were moments of humour and emotion and some stunning surprises, not least the unique design of the stadium cauldron, made up of over 200 flames.

Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, who within hours will be cycling for Team GB in the men's road race, rang the giant bell which marked the start of the show at the Olympic Stadium.

Wearing a yellow jersey Wiggins, who less than a week ago became the first British man to win the tour, was greeted with huge cheers.

It was the dramatic start of a breathtaking ceremony capturing the best of Britain and masterminded by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.

  • The spectacular Opening Cermony of the London 2012 Olympics is underway at the Olympic Stadium...
  • The stage is set inside the stadium for the spectacular ceremony, the brainchild of Oscar winning director Danny Boyle
  • Dark clouds have gathered over the stadium, but nothing will dampen the spirits of this London crowd, as the Red Arrows pass over the stadium
  • Music written by the great British composer Edward Elgar signals the beginning of the ceremony
  • Tour de France Champion Bradley Wiggins sounds the Olympic Bell to signify the start of the ceremony
  • The ceremony begins with a pastoral scene depicting the classic image of the British countryside
  • Kenneth Branagh plays the part of the great industrial innovator   Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and delivers a rousing speech from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'
  • The oak tree is uprooted, and workers begin to emerge from the ground; signifying the uprooting of the British countryside during the Industrial Revolution
  • The towereing chimneys synonymous with this period in British history rise from the ground, to turn the stadium into an industrial landscape
  • The six molten rings formed on the pitch ascend skywards and link together above the stadium to form the Olympic logo
  • After a short film entitled 'Happy and Glorious' showing James Bond escorting the Queen to the ceremony, the pair parachute their way into the stadium
  • Her majesty is in her seat in time to hear the 'Chaos' deaf and hearing impaired choir perform the national anthem of Great Britain
  • The next sequence pays tribute to one of the best loved British establishments, the NHS. The scenes are performed by real NHS nurses
  • The stage transforms again to reveal characters from children's literature in a celebration of British storytelling
  • The crowd are now treated to a special performance of Chariots of Fire; as the LSO are joined by one of Britains favourite comedy characters, Mr Bean
  • The final stage of the performance documents the technological revolution, featuring Grime artist Dizzee Rascal and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee
  • The flag parade begins with Greece, the motherland of the games,and they are followed by the other 204 nations who will compete in the games
  • After a very long wait Team GB take to the track, led by flag bearer Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy; as David Bowie's 'Heroes' blasts around the stadium
  • The great mystery is over as Sir Steve Redgrave is revealed as the final torch bearer on the Olympic Flame's 8,000 mile journey; but there is a twist...
  • Britain's greatest Olympian passes on the flame to seven promising young athletes; and it will be these young people who light the Olympic Cauldren
  • They light the bronze petals carried by each nation which rise to form the cauldren. Paul McCartney and a spectacular fireworks display close the show
Live pictures from the hotly anticipated opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Queen would later begin the greatest sporting show on earth by telling the world: "I declare open the Games of London, celebrating the 30th Olympiad of the modern era".

But the Queen's formal contribution to the night was eclipsed by her entrance to the stadium.

In a scene filmed in advance and screened for the first time, James Bond actor Daniel Craig arrives at Buckingham Palace in a dinner jacket, striding past the corgis towards the royal study.

"Good evening Mr Bond," says the Queen, before they leave together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter.

Back in real time, to laughter and delight from the crowd, 'the Queen' followed by 'Bond', parachuted from a helicopter towards the arena.

Seconds later the real Queen and Prince Philip received a standing ovation as they arrived.

Some details of the Bond stunt had emerged in advance of the £27million opening ceremony.

But the Queen's role - played to perfection - still left the audience awe-struck both in the stadium and around the world.

"The Queen made herself more accessible than ever before," Boyle said earlier.

Even as the show was going on, there were calls for Boyle to have his own date with the Queen - to receive a knighthood.

In another surprise Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean character created comic havoc and loads of laughs as he joined Sir Simon Rattle conducting the theme from Chariots of Fire.

Another tightly-kept secret was how the Olympic torch would make its final journey from central London down the River Thames to the stadium in east London.

The surprise was that it was former England captain David Beckham, who was shown steering a speedboat with young footballer Jade Bailey past Tower Bridge.

Shortly after that, IOC president Jacques Rogge and London 2012 organising committee chairman Lord Coe spoke to the crowd, the former delighting those present by declaring "in many ways the Olympics are coming home" as he hailed British passion for sport before the flame was lit by the youngsters.

The show started simply with the stadium turned into a meadow, a green and pleasant land.

The world's largest harmonically-tuned bell, weighing 23 tonnes and measuring two metres tall and three metres wide, rang to start a Shakespeare-inspired spectacle featuring 900 children from the six east London host boroughs.

The bell stood at one end of the stadium in Stratford, east London, while at the opposite end a version of Glastonbury Tor - a holy hill in south west England - was topped off with a giant oak.

A huge waterwheel stood parallel with the 100 metre finish line where, in just a week's time, the fastest men in the world will race to be named Olympic champion.

Oscar winner Boyle, the man responsible for the the remarkable transformation of the stadium where the athletics will take place, said: "Tonight's a warm-up act for the Games.

"That's one of the things you have to keep remembering.

"You big it up for different reasons, and you hear it bigged up or slammed or whatever it is and you've got to keep remembering we're the warm-up act."

As warm up acts go, it was hot.

A digital 10-second countdown flashed on to the crowd, with balloons popping on each number, and the ceremony began.

The five Olympic rings, attached to four balloons, were released and floated up into the sky, set to reach the stratosphere by the end of the ceremony.

Sir Kenneth Branagh, dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, entered the scene reciting Caliban's speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest as some 62,000 spectators saw Boyle's spectacular Isles of Wonder unveil.

In sharp contrast, the pounding of the drums began, ushering in Britain's industrial revolution as the stadium darkened and the atmosphere changed.

Pandemonium broke out, with the peaceful countryside torn to pieces as the age of industry sprouted from the ground, with banging so loud the audience felt their seats vibrate.

A cast of hundreds swarmed on to the centre of the arena as the darker, grimier, urban landscape emerged, with giant smoking chimneys rising up from the ground.

Suddenly, everything stopped as silence descended for a moment to remember the fallen.

A poppy field was revealed at one side of the stadium as a sense of calm prevailed while the audience stood to remember the dead.

A vigorously upbeat tone greeted hundreds of dancing nurses and their young patients on 320 luminous hospital beds in a celebration of the National Health Service.

Staff and patients from the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital were given a special cheer as the hospital's name, GOSH, was spelt out by the beds.

Musician Mike Oldfield played Tubular Bells as one young girl read beneath the bedsheets in a tribute to the world of children's literature.

In a rare public appearance, Harry Potter author JK Rowling started the tale of JM Barrie's Peter Pan as Boyle's "Second to the right, and straight on 'til morning" segment got under way.

A memorial wall on the stadium screens was one of the touching moments of the ceremony, showing images of spectators' loved ones who have passed away, including the late fathers of Boyle and Olympics supremo Lord Coe.

Dancers dressed in red, representing the struggle between life and death, were picked out by a spotlight in the darkness of the stadium as the clear powerful vocals of Emeli Sande pierced the air with Abide With Me.

Then the athletes arrived, first those from Greece, birthplace of the games.

Usain Bolt led out the Jamaican team, drawing a massive cheer from the crowd.

But that was dwarfed by the ticker tape reception for Sir Chris Hoy, Britain's flagbearer, as Team GB became the last of the nations to enter the stadium.

The four-time Olympic cycling champion said: "I don't think any of us were expecting it to be this good."

Then came the final surprise as Britain's greatest Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave ran into the stadium holding the torch to be greeted by seven young athletes each nominated by himself and British Olympic heroes Lynn Davies, Duncan Goodhew, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Mary Peters, Shirley Robertson and Daley Thompson.

The teenagers were Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey, and they each lit one of the copper petals which had been brought into the stadium with the teams.

Within moments over 200 of the petals were ablaze and rose up to form a spectacular cauldron.