Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

London 2012 Olympic Games: Billions tune in to watch spectacular opening ceremony

Viewers heap praise on Danny Boyle's epic showpiece

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  The Olympic Rings are assembled during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Olympic Rings are assembled during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line in the men's road race
Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinolurov celebrates winning gold (centre) alongside second placed Rigoberto Uran and third placed Alexander Kristoff
Hannah Miley came fifth in the Women's 400m Individual Medley at the Aquatic Centre
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers dressed up as Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond parachute out of a helicopter above the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: (L-R) Norma Major, Gordon Brown and Chief Executive of LOCOG Paul Deighton during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Gary Connery and Mark Sutton parachute into the stadium as part of short James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig and The Queen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a scene of an ordinary family arriving home on a Saturday night during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: United States' fans celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: British Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt (2L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) is seen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Red Arrows disappear over London ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fireworks are set off during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Paul McCartney performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's Sir Chris Hoy carries the Union Flag during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Tony Marshall/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds his counties flag at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony . Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the opening of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Clive Woodward at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony . Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius waves at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's team parade around the stadium led by flag bearer Chris Hoy during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's team enter the stadium led by flag bearer Chris Hoy during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mohammed Ali is helped to his feet as takes hold of the Olympic flag during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A performer dressed as a dove during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Paul McCartney is shown live on the big screens at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jamaica's Usain Bolt carries his countries flag at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jamaica's Usain Bolt is mobbed by the other athletes at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off over the Olympic Stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Clive Woodward and members of the Great Britain Olympic team parade around the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic flame after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic flame after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic flame into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave, right, holds the Olympic torch after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Fireworks light up over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Fireworks illuminate the sky over Olympic Stadium during Opening Ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Fireworks light up over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the national flag as confetti surrounds the team during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Crowds the fireworks after the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony was screened at the BT Live Event at Victoria Park, Hackney PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS . Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic torch is carried by seven young athletes during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off over the Olympic Stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Sratford locals (bottom left) gather to watch the Opening Ceremony on television outside the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fireworks during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Steve Redgrave hands the torch to young torch bearers Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Queen Elizabeth II (left) makes a speech at the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

It had been shrouded in intense secrecy in the run-up to the Games, but the wait for the London 2012 opening ceremony seemed to be worthwhile as viewers around the globe heaped praise on Danny Boyle's epic showpiece.

Billions of people from across the world tuned in to watch the £27 million spectacular, while thousands of others travelled to the UK to witness the official start of the sporting celebration in person.

The three-and-a-half-hour show seemed to be an instant hit with many, with its British sense of humour and vibrant soundtrack celebrated by viewers from other countries.

The Queen's cameo appearance was a particular highlight for the non-British audience as she took part in a comical segment filmed in Buckingham Palace with Daniel Craig, before seemingly parachuting into the Olympic Stadium with the James Bond star.

Los Angeles Times sports reporter Bill Plaschke tweeted: "James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II 'parachute' into the stadium, then kids in pyjamas sing the national anthem... works for me."

Another LA Times reporter, who tweeted shortly after Harry Potter author JK Rowling read from Peter Pan, said: "The Queen acting, JK Rowling reading in public, can you top this?"

The appearance of Mr Bean also got viewers from the other side of the Atlantic chuckling, with Rowan Atkinson's comical character seeming to go down well with the US press.

Mr Plaschke tweeted: "Mr Bean hams it up during playing of Chariots of Fire... hilarious.. this is becoming can't-miss ceremony."

A fellow LA Times reporter wrote: "Rowan Atkinson segment, very clever."

Another wrote: "Mr Bean one of the night's scripted surprises."

The ceremony's showcasing of Britain's rich musical history was another highlight with the use of songs from UK's finest singers and performers seeming to be a massive hit.

KC Johnson from the Chicago Tribune tweeted: "The Jam has been played. I can go home now. Oh, wait, Arctic Monkeys and Sir Paul still to come. Musical heaven."

Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times journalist Philip Hersh tweeted: "Did MTV produce this?"

He also heaped praise on the upbeat nature of the athletes' parade.

"This parade of athletes has much more of a party atmosphere than in past... feels like closing ceremony mood," he said.

The cinematic element of the ceremony was singled out, with the New York Times describing the show as "visually stunning".

Australian journalist Karen Tighe said that Boyle had "hit the nail on the head" with the opening ceremony.

The Perth-based ABC Sports presenter told BBC Radio 5Live: "It was a fantastic start to the Games. I'm so glad there was no temptation to be better and bigger than Beijing - it was wonderful in its own way and it all came across so well."

She added: "Visually it looked spectacular, there was humour and the overall picture - I think he (Boyle) hit the nail on the head."

Mrs Tighe said the length of the show was a negative point and also expressed disappointment over the lighting of the cauldron.

"I really loved the inspiration of a new generation, but it kind of felt a bit of an anti-climax at that point."

Meanwhile, The New York Times described the "hilariously quirky" celebration as a "noisy, busy, witty, dizzying production".

It added: "Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is."

The LA Times also heaped further praise on the occasion.

It said in a review of the ceremony: "An atmosphere of whimsy and party won out over pomp and circumstance during an Olympic opening ceremony that allowed an economically beleaguered Britain to pat itself on the back.

"The ceremony could not have been more of a contrast from Beijing's four years ago, replacing Chinese militaristic precision with British fancifulness."

The Times of India called the ceremony "dazzling", adding that London had "presented a vibrant picture of Great Britain's rich heritage and culture".

Meanwhile the China Daily said the pageant was "kaleidoscopic".

"Britain's Queen Elizabeth declared the London Olympics open after playing a cameo role in a dizzying ceremony designed to highlight the grandeur and eccentricities of the nation that invented modern sport," it said.

The decision to ask former Beatle Paul McCartney to sing out the ceremony was well received.

David Haugh from the Chicago Tribune said: "McCartney can still bring it... Na, na, na, na, na,na, na, na... show ending appropriately on a high after confusing cauldron lighting."

A number of users of China's social network Sina Weibo posted messages in support of the opening ceremony.

One person, writing under the name Timo in a dream, wrote: "Compared to the Beijing Olympic Games, I like the opening ceremony of the London Games which interprets the culture in a simple way and it's easy to understand."

Another, called Onlooker, said: "I was most impressed by the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games which cost only 42 million US dollars (£26.7 million) - less than half of what was spent at the Beijing Olympic Games."

Keith Duggan of the Irish Times wrote: "The three and a half hour show illustrated the fact that the British do pomp and pageantry better than the rest of the world."

He also praised the turn by Wallander star Kenneth Branagh, who read from Shakespeare's The Tempest in the historical section.

"Does anyone quote the Bard better than the Belfast boy?," he asked.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper described the event as a "long, eccentric opening ceremony".

The Toronto-based publication reported: "The message wasn't just that Brits are an odd folk; it was that Britain's past is more important than its future.

"But what a past! Your country should be so lucky."

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