THE Queen made her acting debut as she dropped in with James Bond for the spectacular London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, writes Graham Walker.
SLIDESHOW: Press the play butto to relive the magic of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony - with our stunning slideshow of photos by the Press Association.
In a scene filmed weeks ago but aired for the first time live during the opening ceremony, 007 superstar Daniel Craig was shown arriving at Buckingham Palace in a trademark dinner jacket, striding past the corgis towards the royal study.
“Good evening Mr Bond,” the Queen said, before leaving with him by helicopter for a flight across London towards the Olympic Stadium.
And the helicopter was seen to hover above the stadium tonight before a stunt double “Queen” followed by “Bond”, parachuted into the arena.
Moments later the real Queen and Prince Philip enterd the stadium to a standing ovation.
It was part of a dramatic start of a breathtaking ceremony capturing the best of Britain, which was both moving and funny.
Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins rang a giant bell which marked the beginning.
Wearing a yellow jersey Wiggins, who less than a week ago became the first British man to win the Tour, was greeted with cheers at the Olympic Park.
The show then started simply with the stadium turned into a meadow, a green and pleasant land.
It was transformed into an industrial revolution landscape with steelworkers forging the five Olympic rings which glowed bright yellow and sparked as they were brought together above the stadium.
The world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell, weighing 23 tonnes and measuring two metres tall and three metres wide, rang inside the stadium to start a Shakespeare-inspired spectacle featuring 900 children from the six east London host boroughs.
Some details of the Bond stunt had emerged in advance of the £27 million opening ceremony - the brainchild of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
But the Queen’s role - played to perfection and showing her fun side - still left the audience awe-struck and laughing with delight, both in the stadium and around the world.
“The Queen made herself more accessible than ever before,” Boyle said earlier.
In another surprise Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean character created comic havoc as Sir Simon Rattle conducted the theme from Chariots of Fire.
After the Bond coup de theatre, prime ministers, presidents, US First Lady Michelle Obama, International Olympic Committee executives and spectators stood as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied IOC president Jacques Rogge into the stadium.
Following brief speeches, the Queen declared the 30th Olympiad officially open.
David Beckham sailed a high powered speedboat down the Thames to deliver the Olympic flame - which was passed on to Steve Redgrave, the only Olympian to have won a gold medal at five consecutive Olympic Games. who carried the torch into the stadium.
From there it was passed on to seven young athletes, nominated by Olympic greats - and it was the promising young athletes, representing the future, who lit the Olympic cauldron.
Athletes from all over the world had paraded into the stadium. Team GB flag-bearer was Chris Hoy, who won three gold medals in Beijing 2008- the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time.
Danny Boyle’s “bloody brilliant” opening ceremony was hailed as a triumph.
The event, which featured a diverse cast including James Bond star Daniel Craig and JK Rowling, merged music, dance and special effects into a spectacular opening.
Designer Wayne Hemingway said it was an “amazing” ceremony.
The Morecambe-born founder of Red or Dead said: “It just makes me so proud.
“Watching it made me proud to be a Lancastrian. Danny Boyle is from just down the road to me and so much of my life was in this, everything I believe in, the history from the industrial revolution right through to the NHS.”
The world-wide audience was treated to a greatest hits medley of British pop over the decades with bursts of the Beatles, the Jam, Sex Pistols and Dizzee Rascal.
There were also excerpts from the Kinks, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Mud’s Tiger Feet before Emile Sande sang the cup final classic Abide With Me.
Hemingway said: “The musical bit was perfection from the wit and the guts to put Tiger Feet among the Beatles and the Who and then to give pretty much the whole of Pretty Vacant.
“Normally it would be brushed over, but the punk spirit which is in Britain was written through the ceremony.
“Anyone cynical about this has no lust for life, it’s just bloody brilliant.
“I don’t think anyone could find a fault. He deserves a knighthood.”
Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg agreed, tweeting: “Impressive though #openingceremony in Beijing was, they didn’t have any great pop music to play, did they?”
Not everyone was so enthusiastic. Art critic Brian Sewell said he would not watch the show.
Speaking before the ceremony, he said: “I was not planning to watch it but then the 10 O’Clock News ran a snippet of it which merely reinforced my plan not to watch it.”
Novelist and journalist Tony Parsons was more positive, saying: “Sneering at the Olympics is like sneering at Christmas. Do you want to be with Danny Boyle or Mitt Romney? Time to stop synchronised moaning.”
Wallander star Kenneth Branagh featured as the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, reading from Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the historical section.
Historian Tom Holland tweeted: “Shakespeare. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Nimrod. Lots of Victorians in top hats. The Industrial Revolution. If only sport was always like this.”
VIDEO: The Star’s sports writer Richard Fidler is at the opening ceremony and the Games - watch his video preview of the South Yorkshire names to look out for at London 2012 and read his daily blog - CLICK HERE.
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