London 2012 Olympics: The opening ceremony as it happened

The new Olympic Stadium plays host to the opening ceremony. Picture: AFP/Getty
The new Olympic Stadium plays host to the opening ceremony. Picture: AFP/Getty
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AFTER seven years of preparations, the wait is over. Last night, we witnessed Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle’s Olympic extravaganza that heralded the start of the London 2012 Olympics. You can relive the whole ceremony below.

12.50am: So, a fitting end to what has been a truly spectacular opening ceremony. Thanks for staying with us, and you can catch up with all the news and reaction from the Olympic Stadium in today’s Scotsman, and here online.

12.40am: Sir Paul McCartney takes to the stage, and performs much-loved song ‘Hey Jude.’ The athletes and spectators join in with the chorus, bringing this opening ceremony to a close.

12.35am: And the Olympic torch is lit by seven young athletes, nominated by past British Olympic champions, light the Olympic Cauldron, formed from 204 copper petals and designed by British sculptor Thomas Heatherwick.

Callum Airlie, 17 - nominated by gold medal-winning sailor Shirley Robertson. Two-time Optimist UK national champion aiming to compete in the 2013 ISAF (International Sailing Association & Federation) Open.

Jordan Duckitt, 18 - previously chairman of the London 2012 Young Ambassador Steering Group for two years, and was nominated by Duncan Goodhew.

Desiree Henry, 16 - athletics talent put forward by Daley Thomson. Youngest member of the GB youth team to gain a world 200m title at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2011, and competes this year at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.

Katie Kirk, 18 - nominated by Dame Mary Peters, who won gold in the women`s Pentathlon at the 1972 Munich games, Katie was selected to run at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in the 400m and 4x400m relay and was also part of the gold medal-winning team in the 4x400m relay at the European Junior championships in Tallinn, Estonia.

Cameron MacRitchie, 19 - nominated by Sir Steve Redgrave, he finished fifth with his partner James Edwards in the men`s pair at the 2012 GB rowing team u-23 trials in April and was selected in the men’s eight to race at the World Rowing u-23 Championships in Lithuania.

Aidan Reynolds, 18 - put forward by Lynn Davies, who captained Team GB at Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984. Gave up a promising basketball career to focus on the javelin, winning three medals at national level at the English Schools, UK School Games and English Championships.

Adelle Tracey, 19 - nominated by Dame Kelly Holmes and has collected county, regional and national junior and senior titles in 400m and 800m, and has been in the top five UK rankings for the last six years. Won 800m silver for Great Britain in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Finland.

12.29am: Redgrave bringing the Olympic flame into the Olympic Park, given a guard of honour by those who worked on the construction of the stadium.

12.25am: Sir Steve Redgrave lighting the torch, delivered by David Beckham - but who will light the cauldron itself?

12.20am: A spectacular firework display heralds the official opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, following the Queen’s brief speech declaring the London Games ‘open.’

The Olympic flag is now being brought into the arena, carried by, amongst others, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban-Ki Moon, founder of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti and mother of Stephen Lawrence, Doreen. The flag-bearers are led by legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

The Olympic anthem is now being played as the flag is raised above the stadium.

12.16am: Speaking about leading out Team GB, Sir Chris Hoy described it as a ‘massive honour,’ saying: “I don’t think any of us were expecting it (the reception) to be this good.

“It’s a massive honour to be the one who leads out the team, even more so at our home Games.”

12.13am: President of the IOC Jacques Rogge delivering his speech, thanking London for the welcome to the athletes and teams and LOCOG’s hard work to rapturous applause.

12.10am: Sebastian Coe, chairman of LOCOG, delivering a speech prior to the lighting of the cauldron. Thanking Jacques Rogge, president of the Olympic Committee, and the assembled guests and dignitaries.

“I have never been prouder to be British” says Lord Coe.

11.59pm: Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys performing their breakthrough hit ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ followed by a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together.’ Rumour has it Sir Paul McCartney will be performing after the cauldron is lit.

11.54pm: And Team GB take to the arena, led by Sir Chris Hoy, carrying the Union Jack flag, to the sound of David Bowies ‘Heroes.’ Huge cheers from the assembled crowds, who have high hopes for Britain’s athletes.

11.49pm: Team USA, kitted out by Ralph Lauren, taking to the arena. Minutes away from Team GB’s appearance, and that all-important question of who will be lighting the cauldron.

11.33pm: Qatar’s flagbearer Bahya Mansour Al Hamad is the first woman the country has sent to any Olympic Games.

11.11pm: Apparently we’re about half way through the athletes’ parade. Scottish cyclist and Beijing gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy will be carrying the Union Jack for Team GB.

11.00pm: Still with us? Iceland are now parading into the arena, and we’re hearing that several people have been arrested in London during the ‘Critical Mass’ bike ride. Eye-witnesses report that police used pepper spray on some cyclists, and some were pushed aside to allow David Beckham through the traffic. More as we have it, of course.

10.30pm: We’re still only on Bermuda who are, true to form, wearing Bermuda shorts with formal shoes and blazers.

10.23pm: And the athletes take to the arena, in the team parade. We hear that Team GB are on last. We’re only on Armenia, so there’s time to go and get a cuppa, or share your thoughts on the opening ceremony so far.

10.18pm: A chance to remember those who lost their lives in the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005, the day after the city was awarded this year’s Olympics.

10.10pm: A rollercoaster ride through the latter years of British music, and a nod to inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee. Boyle had hinted that he would be paying tribute to the creator of the internet and has stayed true to his word.

Now we’re seeing a video montage of the Olympic Flame’s journey throughout the British Isles.

9.58pm: This section is entitled ‘Frankie and June say thanks Tim’ and is designed to be a story to celebrate British music and television.

Danny Boyle explains: “A girl heads out from a regular house where her family are watching a soap opera.

“We invented soap operas and they have been exported around the world. It is amazing. All soap operas around the world are aspirational, ours remain gritty and grim.

“For the older generation it is like watching telly, and the younger generation it is actually going out and having a good time on a Saturday night.

“They go out and have a good time on a Saturday night and they meet each other and through a series of clubs.

“And the clubs are called the 60s, the 70s, you can guess the rest, the 80s, the 90s, and it celebrates the music we’ve produced.”

9.50pm: A cameo by Mr Bean on keyboards as the London Symphony Orchestra perform the Chariots of Fire theme tune by Vangelis, from the film of the same name about Scotland’s own Eric Liddell.

9.42pm: The ceremony now celebrating British literature, with Mary Poppins, Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

9.35pm: A quick chance to appreciate the National Health Service now. Danny Boyle, speaking about the opening, said: “The first thing you can see is the green and pleasant land, which is something which is deeply embedded in our consciousness if you live here.

“We have a prologue, which you might find a bit strange and baffling.

“Then you see it becomes part of a much bigger sequence called Pandemonium, and that is the transformation into the industrial revolution.

“It is begun by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and he speaks this speech from The Tempest at the beginning which signals the start of the change in the land.

“We call it Pandemonium, which is Milton’s invented word for the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost, and you know all the stories about Victorian Britain, but it also unleashed tremendous potential, and the growth of cities and the growth of a working base was extraordinary really, and it has changed all our lives.”

9.30pm: We reckon it was. And right on cue, the Queen and Prince Phillip have taken their seats in the stadium.

9.29pm: And Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond has appeared in Buckingham Palace. Was that the real Queen...?

9.26pm: And some people say history is boring. Danny Boyle’s opening concert has taken in the Industrial Revolution, the Suffragettes, World War One, the 1960s, and the coal miners amongst others, in a bid to demonstrate Britain’s rise to power and wealth. The Olympic rings are formed by the massed ‘workers’. Overall, a breathtaking and quite remarkable opening. What say you, Mitt Romney?

9.00pm: Britain’s first Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins ringing the bell to get proceedings under way, and the familiar strains of ‘Jerusalem’ ring out, with choirs in London, Northern Ireland, Scotland (singing O Flower of Scotland, naturally) and Wales, where the choir is singing Bread of Heaven.

8.58pm: A lot of folk commenting on the similarities to the Teletubbies set. We’re sure that isn’t deliberate. Just seconds remaining until proceedings really kick off.

8.50pm: A rousing performance from folk-punk musican Frank Turner stirring up more excitement as the countdown enters the final ten minutes. The excitement is palpable. Who will light the cauldron? Will it be Dame Kelly? Roger Bannister? Stay tuned...

8.26pm: And we’re off. The Red Arrows flashed across London in formation as the countdown to the start of the 2012 Olympic Games entered its final hours.

Trailing red, white and blue vapour trails, the world-famous RAF aerobatics performed a flypast across the city at exactly 8:12pm - 2012 on the 24-hour clock.

Among those enjoying the sight were thousands of people flocking to the Olympic Park for the spectacular opening ceremony.

Events were held across the country on Friday to mark the official start of the Games, from co-ordinated bell-ringing to spectacular aeronautic displays from the Red Arrows.

But it was the opening ceremony which was the most anticipated spectacle. With a global audience of one billion viewers - not forgetting the lucky 62,000 spectators in the stadium - the £27m visual feast set the standard for the 16 days of intense - and potentially historic - sporting competition taking place in Britain.


• 1 billion - the estimated worldwide television audience

• £27 million - the total cost of the opening ceremony

• 16,000 athletes

• 12,956 props

• 10,000 performers

• 500 speakers

• 70 sheep

• 12 horses

• 10 chickens

• 3 cows

• 3 sheep dogs

• 2 goats

• 1 Sir Paul McCartney