Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Show puts Britain on top of the world

There will be many winners and even more losers in the London 2012 Olympics, but the stunning Opening Ceremony on Friday was a world-beater.

People have differing opinions about the contents and whether or not there was too much pop music or not enough of something else. Overall, however, there is widespread agreement that this was an inimitable demonstration of Britain's rich history, its multi-ethnic background, its contribution to sporting culture, its many social and other achievements, and also its ability not to take itself too seriously.

Already it is being hailed around the world as a magnificent showcase for Britain, which included technical brilliance of the highest order, as well as humanity and humour. And all of it was carried off with the typical finesse of a country which has no equal in staging hugely important public events.

Some of the highlights will be talked about for years to come. These include the brilliant sequence when the Queen became a "Bond girl" on her way to the Olympics, allegedly by helicopter, as well as the talented Rowan Atkinson as the hapless Mr Bean, with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The arrival of the Olympic flame and the lighting of the cauldron, with its vision of handing on the tradition to the younger generation, have never been surpassed in Olympic history.

Northern Ireland was suitably represented in this Opening extravaganza.

Sir Kenneth Branagh demonstrated his thespian talents and the choir of young people filmed at the Giant's Causeway gave a special local dimension to our "Danny Boy" - which is known the world over. Their achievement was remarkable, given that they had only a week of preparation.

The young athlete Katie Kirk and Dame Mary Peters played their part in lighting the cauldron, and even Snow Patrol hit the right note in their performance in Hyde Park. Our Northern Ireland competitors have experienced mixed fortunes so far but the progress of the Olympics will make for compulsive viewing after such a spectacular Opening performance, for which the organisers all deserve medals of the purest gold.

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