Queen, Bond and Bean ring in Games
Queen Elizabeth made her acting debut tonight as she joined James Bond in the spectacular Olympic Games opening ceremony.
In a scene filmed in advance and screened for the first time, Bond actor Daniel Craig arrives at Buckingham Palace in a dinner jacket, striding past the corgis towards the royal study.
“Good evening Mr Bond,” says the queen, before they leave together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter.
Back in real time, to peels of laughter and delight from the crowd, “the queen” followed by “Bond”, parachuted from a helicopter towards the arena. Seconds later the real queen and Prince Philip received a standing ovation as they arrived.
Earlier Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins rang the giant bell which marked the start of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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.
It was the dramatic start of a breathtaking ceremony capturing the best of Britain, by turn moving and funny.
Some details of the Bond stunt had emerged in advance of tonight’s £27 million opening ceremony the brainchild of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
In another surprise Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean character created comic havoc as Sir Simon Rattle conducted the theme from Chariots of Fire.
The show started simply with the Stadium turned into a meadow, a green and pleasant land.
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.
The bell, produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, is inscribed with a quote from The Tempest’s Caliban: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”.
The bell stood at one end of the stadium in Stratford, east London, while at the opposite end a version of Glastonbury Tor was topped off with a giant oak.
A huge waterwheel stood parallel with the 100 metre finish line where, in just a week’s time, the fastest men in the world will race to be named Olympic champion.
Oscar winner Boyle, the man responsible for the the remarkable transformation of the stadium where the athletics will take place, said: “Tonight’s a warm-up act for the Games.
“That’s one of the things you have to keep remembering. You big it up for different reasons, and you hear it bigged up or slammed or whatever it is and you’ve got to keep remembering we’re the warm-up act.”
As warm up acts go, it was hot.
A digital 10-second countdown flashed on to the crowd, with balloons popping on each number, and the ceremony began.
The five Olympic rings, attached to four balloons, were released and floated up into the sky, set to reach the stratosphere by the end of the ceremony.
In the stadium, all was still in the idyllic countryside setting. Children played on the meadow and sports took place on the village green,
before a single child’s voice sang out the words to Danny Boy.
Sir Kenneth Branagh, dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, entered the scene reciting Caliban’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest as some 62,000 spectators saw Boyle’s spectacular Isles of Wonder unveil.
In sharp contrast, the pounding of the drums began, ushering in Britain’s industrial revolution as the stadium darkened and the atmosphere changed.
Pandemonium broke out, with the peaceful countryside torn to pieces as the age of industry sprouted from the ground, with banging so loud the audience felt their seats vibrate.
A cast of hundreds swarmed on to the centre of the arena as the darker, grimier, urban landscape emerged, with giant smoking chimneys rising up from the ground. Suddenly, everything stopped as silence descended for a moment to remember the fallen. A poppy field was revealed at one side of the stadium as a sense of calm prevailed while the audience stood to remember the dead.
But the scene was soon swallowed up in a hive of activity. Chelsea Pensioners, suffragettes, Jarrow marchers and a band wearing the brightly-coloured Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s uniform joined the parade. All the while the massive cast of drummers danced and beat out the music in unison.
Four giant rings started to hover and descend from the sky while another rose up from the ground to meet them in mid-air before all five burst into flames. The darkness inside the stadium was broken by the sound of Handel, which heralded the queen’s arrival.
A fanfare played and music harked back to the Battle of Britain, while stadium spotlights strobed across the night sky.
Then the familiar sound of the James Bond theme blasted out, while bright lights turned the banks of spectators in to panels of red, white and blue.
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.
The Royal Navy, Army and Air Force raised the Union Flag, as the national anthem rang out from Kaos, a singing choir for deaf and hard of hearing children.
A vigorously upbeat tone greeted hundreds of dancing nurses and their young patients on 320 luminous hospital beds in a celebration of the National Health Service.
Staff and patients from the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) were given a special cheer as the hospital’s name was spelt out by the beds.
Musician Mike Oldfield played Tubular Bells as one young girl read beneath the bedsheets in a tribute to the world of children’s literature.
In a rare public appearance, Harry Potter author JK Rowling started the tale of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan as Boyle’s Second to the right, and straight on ‘til morning segment got under way.
Baddies from Britain’s best-loved children’s books, including Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil and Lord Voldemort, threatened the stage but were quickly banished by a troupe of Mary Poppins-type characters who descended from the skies. The giant wizard deflated and the nightmare was over as a lullaby swept over the scene.
Then a giant baby, nestling safely under cover, fell asleep.
A two-up two-down house was the start of the ceremony’s love story featuring Frankie and June, a teenage girl getting ready for a Saturday night out. A lost phone led to their budding romance, which was pursued through nightclubs playing music from the 1960s to today.
Some of Britain’s best-loved songs, from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to Underworld’s Born Slippy and Tinie Tempah’s Pass Out, encapsulate each era.
All partygoers were invited back to the house where Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented the World Wide Web, was at his keyboard.
The sentiment behind the opening ceremony appeared in giant black and white letters across the stadium audience: “This is for everyone.”
A memorial wall on the stadium screens was one of the touching moments of the ceremony, showing images of spectators’ loved ones who have passed away, including the late fathers of Boyle and Olympics supremo Lord Coe.
Dancers dressed in red, representing the struggle between life and death, were picked out by a spotlight in the darkness of the stadium as the clear powerful vocals of Emeli Sande pierced the air with Abide With Me.
Sir Chris Hoy, Britain’s flagbearer, joined athletes from the 204 competing Olympic nations as they smiled and waved during their moment in the spotlight.
Representing the doves traditionally released at the Games to signal peace, 75 cyclists, complete with white wings, circled the stadium before one flew away.
Sheffield band Arctic Monkeys played I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor before Lord Coe took to the stage with Rogge.
After brief speeches, the queen declared the 30th Olympiad officially open.