Queen Elizabeth II, Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir Ian McKellen, singer Beverley Knight, and the president of the International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven were all part of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games today.
The Olympic Stadium lit up once more with performers, fireworks, athletes and guide dogs before a crowd of 80,000.
Hawking and McKellen played prominent roles in the ceremony, which also featured a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children and performers newly-trained in circus skills.
Inspired by uncertain British weather, umbrellas were also a big theme in the ceremony, which was described as “both spectacular and deeply human” by organisers.
The Australian team was led out by five-time Paralympian and wheelchair rugby player Greg Smith, and looked stylish in their checked shirts and green and yellow ties.
Paralympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe told the crowd: “Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved.”
The opening ceremony signalled the start of 11 days of competition by 4,200 athletes from 164 countries.
The first British Paralympic gold medal winner, Margaret Maughan, 84, lit the cauldron.
Coverage of the games in Australia is on ABC1 / ABC2 (more guide info is here).