Belfast Telegraph

Barrowman and Boyle open Games

John Barrowman, Susan Boyle, Rod Stewart, Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy have helped open the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in a ceremony watched by more than nine million viewers on BBC One.

The opening, which also featured the Loch Ness Monster, Scottie dogs and dancing Tunnock's teacakes, had a peak audience of 9.4 million - exceeding the number who watched the last time the Games were staged in the UK in 2002, when 8.9 million tuned in at the height of the Manchester opening.

Torchwood star John, who was born in the city but grew up in the US, helped open the ceremony at Celtic Park - with comedienne Karen Dunbar - singing about all things Scottish, in a purple tartan suit.

He kissed a male "bride" at a mock Gretna Green in the colourful two-and-a-half hour show, which involved a cast of 2,000 and celebrated decades of pioneering Scottish inventors.

The gay kiss was hailed as a snub to homophobia in Commonwealth countries which criminalise homosexuality. Forty two out of 53 Commonwealth countries represented at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow criminalise homosexuality in some way.

Hollywood stars Ewan and James took part in an unprecedented appeal for donations to Unicef's Children of the Commonwealth Fund.

The appeal has reached £3.1 million.

Susan Boyle, who had said she was nervous beforehand, faltered slightly at the start of Mull Of Kintyre, and Glasgow singer Amy Macdonald joined rocker Rod for a rendition of his hit Rhythm Of My Heart.

The spectacle at Celtic Park marked the official start of the 20th Games as Commonwealth head the Queen received the ceremonial baton and read out a message of good wishes to the 4,500 athletes and officials taking part.

An audience of around 40,000 and an estimated one billion global viewers watched as competitors from 71 nations and territories paraded on the eve of the competition.

There was a brief moment of embarrassment when the baton containing the Queen's message refused to open for Prince Imran of Malaysia, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, but Sir Chris Hoy, who was given the honour of delivering the baton to the royal box, came to the rescue.

Meanwhile, the Scottie dogs which took part in the athletes' parade stole the show at the ceremony.

Fans flocked to Twitter to tell of their delight as the terriers trotted around Celtic Park sporting red tartan coats bearing the name of the national team they were leading out.

Around 40 Scotties took part in the celebrations in Glasgow, with many "recycled" to accompany more than one nation, b ut it all became too much for some weary animals and they had to be carried around the stadium.

An average of 7.6 million watched for the duration of the programme, which lasted more than three hours, down from the 8.2 million who stuck with the whole ceremony 12 years ago.

But the audience was up hugely on the levels for 2010 stage in Delhi, which drew an average of 3 million, and 2006 for Melbourne, which pulled in 1.3 million.

Last night's coverage accounted for more than two-fifths of the viewers watching TV at that time.


From Belfast Telegraph