The XXX Olympiad is officially underway after an eclectic Opening Ceremony directed by Trainspotting‘s Danny Boyle.
It began with footage of the Thames through London, and spanned to children’s choirs across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Kenneth Branagh introduced us to the Industrial Revolution, as hundreds of workers built mines across England’s farms. Accompanied by drummers, they were followed by Suffragettes, metal workers, immigrants, and tributes to fallen soldiers. Five huge Olympic rings showered fire high above the arena.
Daniel Craig escorted The Queen (in her first ever acting role) in a helicopter from Buckingham Palace to the stadium. Mike Oldfield made a rare appearance as Tubular Bells accompanied a tribute to Great Ormond Street Hospital. J.K. Rowling introduced a ‘dream’ sequence as fantasy characters came to life: Cruella de Ville, Valdemort, Captain Hook and Mary Poppins.
The London Symphony Orchestra performed Chariots of Fire with a cheeky Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) on keyboards. Television, pop culture, suburbia and a British Saturday night came to life with kids, dancers, and fluro colours. A medley tribute to the music industry referenced The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Mud, David Bowie, Queen, Sex Pistols, New Order, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Eurythmics, The Prodigy, Amy Winehouse and Muse.
The sequence concluded with an appearance by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor who created the world wide web (thanks Tim!).
After Abide with Me it was time for the athletes to enter the arena.
Australia’s outfits were understated this year in green and gold jackets with white pants. With Lauren Jackson carrying the flag there was clearly elation on the faces of the Aussies, and every athlete seemed to be snapping pics on their phone. When Great Britain entered the arena resplendent in white, the crowd went wild, showered in confetti (while Her Majesty appeared to be doing her nails).
Arctic Monkeys took to the stage as winged cyclists circled the stadium before the official proceedings began with Sebastian Coe and Jacques Rogge. Queen Elizabeth declared the games followed by the arrival of the Olympic flag and appearance by 70 year old Muhammed Ali.
The Olympic flame arrived via a boat across the Thames, headed by David Beckham.
The moment everyone had waited for, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron saw flame petals form the shape of a blazing flower in the middle of the stadium.
Fireworks lit up the sky as Sir Paul McCartney performed Hey Jude -and appeared to be out of sync with his click track. But the crowd sang along nonetheless, ending a spectacular, sometimes humorous and showbiz opening to the XXX Olympiad.
Welcome to London.