Olympics Live

Olympics Live

IT Fri, Jul 27
 

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  • 17:03
    Welcome to the Olympics opening ceremony live blog, as we bring you details of every eccentric “comedy” moment, every second of the interpretive dance and every curious soundtrack choice from tonight’s event. There may even be some athletes. Laura Slattery here (on The Irish Times sofa and not feeling especially athletic). I'll be counting down to the ceremony, which kicks off properly at 9 pm and will run until (at least) 12.30 am. Resistance is futile.
  • 17:12
    Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire, is the creative director of tonight’s entertainment. His full title is Academy Award Winner Danny Boyle, so expect tons of British film references in tonight’s ceremony. It also promises to be an evening jam-packed with great Olympians, debut Olympians, Irish Olympians, debut Irish Olympians, royal Olympians and some non-Olympian royals. Oh, and David Beckham.
  • 17:19
    The organisers have been desperate for journalists and everyone else who saw this week's rehearsals to #savethesurprise - in other words, don't reveal the details of tonight's big set-pieces. Some quarters of the media are still insisting that the surprise was indeed saved, and congratulating themselves accordingly, but actually several outlets did indeed let various cats out of the Olympic bag, so the denouement is highly Google-able, if you really want to know.
  • 17:27
    Here's how tonight's timetable is shaping up: The 60,000-plus stadium spectators have already begun to stream into the Olympic Park. At 7 pm, the BBC's countdown coverage is scheduled to begin, unless they implode with the excitement first. At 8.12 pm - or 20.12 in the 24-hour clock - some Red Arrows will do a bit of a fly-past and there will be a "pre-show" to get the stadium crowd warmed up. At 8.30 pm, RTE Two arrives at the party. Then at 9 pm, the ceremony will begin with the ringing of the world's largest harmonically tuned bell.
  • 17:36
    As I said earlier, Google is your friend if you want to know everything about the ceremony. Personally, I think they've built it up too much with this #savethesurprise lark. But there's plenty of stuff about the ceremony, including some brief video snippets, that the organisers have officially released. First off, it's called Isles of Wonder and there will be Shakespeare - specifically, a speech from The Tempest, which is Castaway for the Elizabethan age but with added sibling rivalry. This speech will very possibly be read by a recently knighted acting legend with an Irish connection... Maybe.
  • 17:45
    It's also officially known that there will be animals - 70 sheep (count them if you're bored), 12 horses and 10 highly-trained chickens will shuffle their way around the grassy meadow laid out in the centre of the stadium where later in the games the javelin-throwers will be doing their thing. Animal rights' groups are (understandably) not very happy. We can also expect a village cricket team, jolly maypole dancing and Boris Johnson doing the Birdie Song dance. Perhaps.
  • 17:46
    It's all supposed to represent "a green and pleasant land". A bit like that scene in Trainspotting where Renton, Sick Boy et al go for a walk in the Scottish hills. Grass, fresh air, healthy lifestyles...
  • 17:51
    File picture of the talented film director Danny Boyle on a red carpet somewhere. Photograph: Reuters.
    File picture of the talented film director Danny Boyle on a red carpet somewhere. Photograph: Reuters.
  • 17:54
    Here's a picture of creative director Danny Boyle, soon to be Sir Danny Boyle, no doubt. He's smilling now, but wait until everyone starts nit-picking at his crazy vision.
  • 18:02
    The big question is who will light the Olympic cauldron at approximately midnight? Sir Steve Redgrave, rower and winner of gold medals at five consecutive games? A great athlete, but not internationally iconic. David Beckham, for whom organisers have been desperate to “find a role”? Not an Olympian. Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes (way back in 1954)? Well, despite never having won an Olympic medal, he’s the hot favourite, to the extent that bookies have stopped taking bets.
  • 18:06
    There are other cauldron-lighting possibilities. It could be a group of Olympians, as was the not entirely successful case at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. It could be a random schoolkid from the local area, an idea that has historical precedent. It could be teenage diver Tom Daley, one of Britain's medal hopes. Or it could even be Bradley Wiggins, the popular Tour de France champion, though he goes in the road race on Saturday and isn't even due to attend the ceremony.
  • 18:15
    Tonight's ceremony has a budget of £27 million. To put this in perspective, that's roughly three times the budget of Boyle's Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire and less than half the estimated $100,000 cost of the Beijing 2008 opening ceremony in the Bird's Nest Stadium, which, you may remember, came complete with CGI fireworks.
  • 18:24
    The other thing you need to know about Danny Boyle is that he's on a mission to resurrect glam rock. The video images released yesterday evening revealed a troupe of sparkly-clad dancers shimmying their way through Tiger Feet by Mud. With feather boas, obviously.
  • 18:38
    I'll be devoting approximately 20 per cent of my remaining eyesight to the tweets of the Irish Olympic Team. @JessieBarr247 - aka Jessie Barr, who will run in the Irish women's 4 x 400 relay - tweets: "Watching the build-up to the Opening Ceremony on BBC while getting ready is making me REALLY excited!! Aghhhh it's finally here." Meanwhile, Irish 50km walker @colingriffin tells his followers it's "fair play" that Taoiseach Enda Kenny actually spent time with the Irish team earlier: "Previous Ministers attending Olympics would have walked by Irish athletes and not even speak or acknowledge them," he tweets.
  • 18:43
    Performers dressed as doctors in white coats and pretty electric-blue pleated skirts take part in a rehearsal for tonight's ceremony. Photograph: Reuters / Olivia Harris.
    Performers dressed as doctors in white coats and pretty electric-blue pleated skirts take part in a rehearsal for tonight's ceremony. Photograph: Reuters / Olivia Harris.
  • 18:47
    Oh yes, there will be dancing nurses... But this is 2012, people. Some of the actresses will be playing doctors too! Progress.
  • 19:06
    What else can we expect? Well, the British are quite good at cycling so naturally there will be dozens of angel-costumed cyclists wearing mechanically fluttering glow-wings of a massive span - not terribly practical for rush-hour traffic. Also if the organisers have any sense there will be some nod to the fact that almost as soon as the Olympics end, the Paralympics begin. Indeed, British Paralympian Ellie Simmonds would have been a great choice to light the cauldron. Crucially, the Olympic Park is not just in London but in Stratford in the East End of London, so expect a dash of "chim chim-in-ee, chim chim-in-ee, chim, chim che-roo" shenanigans.
  • 19:14
    If you have access to a television, the countdown coverage has now begun on BBC One. There will be montages. Gary Lineker and Sue Barker are hosting. Sue asks Steve Redgrave if he's lighting the cauldron. Redgrave is coy in reply. Michael Johnson, 400m and 200m Olympic gold medallist, is also in the studio. This bodes well for the BBC's plans to continue their tradition of filming Johnson watching the men's sprint races then showing his "spontaneous" reaction to viewers. Well, it was fun the first time.
  • 19:25
    Electronic duo Underworld, who had a massive hit in the 1990s with Born Slippy courtesy of its place on the Trainspotting soundtrack, have reunited with Boyle to score part of the show. According to a leaked list, songs by British artists that will be played include such violent delights as the Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict a Riot, MIA's Paper Planes and the Prodigy's Firestarter. Sir Paul McCartney playing out the ceremony, imploring the crowd to clap along to Hey Jude, is an inevitability, I'm afraid. Anyhow, the soundtrack will be available to download after the show.
  • 19:36
    FLOTUS, aka Michelle Obama, will be in the stadium representing the US on the dignitary front and just generally showing Mitt "Disconcerting" Romney how this diplomacy business is done. Earlier she told Team USA to "have fun... but also win", as "winning is good". They will win too - as per 2008, it's a race between the US and China as to which nation can top the medals table. China won last time as despite getting 100 medals to the US's 110, more of theirs were gold. They did have home advantage though.
  • 19:48
    Another dignitary who will be rocking up to the Olympic Park if she hasn't already is Dilma Rouseff, President of Brazil, who will be keeping a close eye on which bits of the ceremony are spectacular triumphs and which parts get woefully lost in translation. Why? Because it's Rio 2016, of course.
  • 19:55
    Olympic cauldron fact: the only person to have lit the cauldron and won a gold medal in the same games was Cathy Freeman in Sydney 2000.
  • 20:12
    The Red Arrows are flying towards the Olympic stadium in time for their 20.12 flypast. Blue, white and red plumes of smoke trail from their engines. "There's the Thames," says Gary Lineker, observantly. Off they head, into the sunset.
  • 20:19
    Lovely tissue-paper cloud hangs non-threateningly above the spectators in the Olympic Park ahead of the ceremony, presumably as some kind of sanguine celebration of the British weather. Photograph: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch
    Lovely tissue-paper cloud hangs non-threateningly above the spectators in the Olympic Park ahead of the ceremony, presumably as some kind of sanguine celebration of the British weather. Photograph: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch
  • 20:31
    Danny Boyle says tonight's ceremony will be "visceral". David Cameron expects it will be "spine-tingling". Mitt Romney is just amazed it's happening at all. Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce told BBC Breakfast this morning that it will have "three or four" comedy moments - one of these may or may not involve a pre-filmed segment with the Queen. Speaking of the Queen, she is now about to leave Buckingham Palace. They're not going to do that thing where she's the last to arrive, are they? That seems an unnecessary logistical challenge.
  • 20:36
    Do athletes dream of sporty sheep? The Olympic stadium is just like home, really. This is part of the 'pre-show'. Photograph: Reuters / Dylan Martinez.
    Do athletes dream of sporty sheep? The Olympic stadium is just like home, really. This is part of the "pre-show". Photograph: Reuters / Dylan Martinez.
  • 20:45
    Remember that time you went to Bunratty Castle on a school trip and there were people dressed up in shawls messing about with straw and pretending not to have ever heard of electricity? Well, the Olympic Park looks a bit like that now.
  • 20:58
    Although the Isles of Wonder ceremony is expected to encompass everything from the "dark Satanic mills" of William Blake's Jerusalem to a celebration of the rights won for women by the Suffragettes, one event that will not be part of the show is a minute's silence for the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The widows of two of the Israelis killed have called for the audience to make a silent protest during International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge's address, after the IOC said the proposed moment of silence to remember the dead was not appropriate. Israel, the US and Germany had backed the widows' call.
  • 21:04
    And we're off. The ceremony begins with a pre-filmed segment and it's... underwater. Is this the Worst Toilet in Scotland? Oh no, we're swiftly overground. In Eurovision-speak, this is what we call a "postcard". The subtext is: Visit Britain! Help up recoup the cost of these exorbitant non-austerity Olympics! There's the chorus of God Save the Queen taken out of context - always fun. The games of the 30th Olympiad begin. Bradley Wiggins is here and he's still wearing that yellow jersey from last Sunday. He's ringing the world's largest harmonically tuned bell. It's gold medal bell-ringing. There are choirs of children singing, but not in a creepy way.
  • 21:08
    Hurrah! It's Sir Kenneth of Branagh, here to do what he does best: some Shakespeare. This speech is from The Tempest - not one of the Bard's better plays. Branagh looks a little sheepish.
  • 21:14
    We are now leaving the "green and pleasant land" and entering the realm of the industrial revolution. You can tell, because the performers have some grime smeared on their faces. The rural cottages are being dismantled, while a thousand drummers signal the rise of urban Britain. There are colonial types wearing top hats as props and doing a goal-celebration dance whenever the camera comes near them. The chimney stacks are arising out of the ground. (Chim chim-in-ee, chim chim-in-ee.)
  • 21:17
    Here come the Suffragettes! This means the history lesson has reached the twentieth century. It's not long to go until Blitz spirit and the Swinging Sixties, surely.
  • 21:28
    What this ceremony really needs now is for Harry Enfield to come on and scream "Loadsamoney". To symbolise the 1980s, of course. It would be better than a re-enactment of the poll tax riots, on balance. The Olympic rings are lit. Branagh is still channelling "amazed". The drummers give it a rest. The crowd goes wild. Now we're back to another pre-filmed segment. It's Buckingham Palace, which is a bit like Downton Abbey only more divorced from real life. Daniel Craig aka James Bond is dropping in on the Queen. The corgis are in hot pursuit. Is there a new Bond film coming out soon, do I hear you ask? Why yes, yes there is. Craig / Bond and the Queen are taking a helicopter to the Olympic stadium via a number of London tourist hotspots.
  • 21:36
    The ceremony is officially "sick". Irish 1,500m runner Ciaran O Lionaird, aka @gociaran, tweets: "Gettin worked on and rehabbing. Ceremony looks sick, would love to be in there but work is work at camp #TeamIreland." Indeed, many of the athletes are not at tonight's opening ceremony as it's either past their bedtime, they are competing tomorrow or they are still at training camps outside London.
  • 21:39
    As nurses and doctors do their "bed dance", the letters "NHS" light up in the centre of the stadium. "Take that, NHS-meddling Tories!" is the message I believe Danny Boyle is unsubtly trying to convey here. Not only is Britain's health service free-at-the-point-of-access, its staff can also do a mean jitterbug if the occasion demands.
  • 21:44
    Here's JK Rowling and her Dementors, which for Harry Potter-refuseniks are creatures who feed on human happiness. We are now building up to one of the main "surprise" set-pieces - a 40 ft Voldemort, Rowling's villain. So that's another British film franchise name-checked. But who will save the children from Lord Voldemort? It's several dozen Mary Poppinses, ready to chastise Voldemort into submission with some tough love.
  • 21:45
    Guest Any truth in the rumour that Fenton is lighting the flame?
  • 21:51
    Chariots of Fire! As played by Mr Bean, wonderful. Chariots of Fire is all set to be the Seven-Nation Army of the Olympics - Seven-Nation Army by the White Stripes, if you recall, was the song that was played during Euro 2012 whenever someone scored a goal. The Irish football team still have nightmares about that song. Anyway, Chariots of Fire will be played during the medal ceremonies in various remixes.
  • 21:51
    Ryanesque Hopefully it goes peacefully and in the true spirit of the games :-0
  • 22:00
    We are now in the midst of a 50-year medley of British pop hits - everyone from David Bowie to Sugababes - with a clip of the film Gregory's Girl thrown in just for the sake of it. All this dancing is reminding me that the one knight of the realm who is not at tonight's ceremony is Sir Bruce Forsyth, because he told the BBC so yesterday. I bet he'd absolutely love to be out there doing a bit of tap though. Is that the Tardis I hear dematerialising?
  • 22:10
    I have to say that is a surprise appearance by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, British inventor of the world wide web. Though to be fair, they should have represented that fine moment of national ingenuity with a troupe of dancing babies or a litter of piano-playing kittens. Now that would have been impressive.
  • 22:10
    Here's what the Industrial Revolution looked like. Not the actual Industrial Revolution. The one they portrayed earlier in the opening ceremony. Photograph: Dave Thompson / PA.
    Here's what the Industrial Revolution looked like. Not the actual Industrial Revolution. The one they portrayed earlier in the opening ceremony. Photograph: Dave Thompson / PA.
  • 22:15
    Here's David Beckham in another pre-filmed segment. He's on a speedboat on the Thames, transporting the Olympic Flame, and doing what pretty much everyone on a speedboat does - smirk.
  • 22:20
    After a moment to remember those who died in the 7/7 terrorist attacks in 2005 - the day after it was announced that London was the surprise winner of the 2012 Olympic bid - Emeli Sande sings Abide With Me. It's nice they chose someone "current": Emeli Sande's career is on the way up after that beautifully tender rendition.
  • 22:26
    So here come the athletes from the 204 nations taking part in London 2012. This bit could take a while. As is tradition, the Greeks come out first. They invented the Olympics after all. After that, it's alphabetical order: Afghanistan, Albania, etc. The Andorran team are after the gold medal in photography, taking snaps of the crowd as they enter the stadium. The voiceover man and woman sound very excited as they announce each country. Let's hope they know their Republic of Korea from their Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
  • 22:29
    Basketballer Lauren Jackson is carrying the flag for Australia. She is 6 ft 5 and part of the Opals team that flew economy to London while the male team travelled in business class. Jackson got to fly first class though, because she's a brand ambassador for Qantas. Smart girl.
  • 22:32
    While we're waiting for Team Ireland, here's Voldemort vs the Mary Poppinses from earlier. Photograph: Anthony Devlin / PA.
    While we're waiting for Team Ireland, here's Voldemort vs the Mary Poppinses from earlier. Photograph: Anthony Devlin / PA.
  • 22:33
    Cllr Steve Wrenn We would never find 600 HSE people to work that closely together and if we did O Reilly wouldn't tell anyone
  • 22:47
    We are still on the letter "C". There are a lot of countries beginning with "C". Meanwhile, Irish boxer Paddy Barnes, aka @paddyb_ireland, tweets: "People of note take notice of me at the ceremony please that is all thank you #millionairespreferably." That's all anyone really wants, isn't it? A millionaire to notice them.
  • 23:05
    Big cheer from the crowd. Here come the Irish. I should really add a patriotic exclamation mark there. Here come the Irish! World champion boxer Katie Taylor is doing Ireland proud by taking the role previously claimed by the advertising people at Procter & Gamble - she's the Proud Keeper of the Irish Tri-Colour. Hopefully this task will take her mind off a tough draw that means she's destined to meet either Queen Underwood or Team GB's Natasha Jonas in the quarters. So that's either someone with home advantage or someone who goes by the first name "Queen". Rather her than me.
  • 23:08
    Team Ireland's moment of glory over, RTE Two has taken an ad break, which means they are missing the arrival in the stadium of "the biggest and most charismatic sports star in the world", as Hazel Irvine calls him. It's Jamaica's Usain Bolt, of course. The star of the Beijing games, "Lightning" Bolt. Well, that was unfortunate timing. Couldn't be helped mind. Who knew "J" came after "I"?
  • 23:17
    Guest Why did they show Noel Mannion scoring a try against Wales ?
  • 23:24
    An Spailpín Fánach It's been suggested on Twitter than Mannion was included is because he and Boyle's mother are both from Ballinasloe. I'm not sure, myself - think it might have been an accident. They just wanted someone scoring a try for Ireland. But I've been wrong before.
  • 23:29
    The aforementioned Usain Bolt carries the Jamaican flag. I wonder will he stroll over the 100m finishing line this time. Photograph: Dave Thompson / PA.
    The aforementioned Usain Bolt carries the Jamaican flag. I wonder will he stroll over the 100m finishing line this time. Photograph: Dave Thompson / PA.
  • 23:29
    Here comes tennis star Maria Sharapova carrying the Russian flag, the first ever woman to do so. Sharapova is also the fourth highest-paid Olympian, according to a list released by Forbes magazine earlier this week. The list is naturally dominated by the professional tennis and basketball players who secure piles of cash for endorsing sportswear brands. The Swiss legend and Andy Murray-crusher that is reigning Wimbledon champion Roger Federer came top of the list.
  • 23:34
    We have reached the arrival of Team Saudi Arabia, which after much negotiation agreed to send two female athletes, meaning that three nations that never previously sent women competitors to the games are doing so this time. (The other two countries are Brunei and Qatar.) With Suffragettes taking part in the opening ceremony, women's football all over the front pages and women's boxing finally becoming an Olympic sport, this could be the Feminist Olympics. Could be. Fingers crossed.
  • 23:43
    Caster Semenya carries the flag for South Africa - hopefully the honour makes up just a little bit for the insensitive commentary she attracted when her gender was questioned and she had to go through a "verification" process. These are the first Olympics for the 800m runner who is the 2009 world champion at that distance. The South African team also contains double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who goes by the nicknames "Blade Runner" and "the fastest man with no legs" and is also a Paralympian.
  • 23:52
    Team USA's ranks are incredibly swollen, as per usual, and they're wearing military-style berets. First Lady Michelle Obama cheers them on. In the crowd, Kate Middleton, sandwiched between her husband and her brother-in-law as is her regular fate, looks a little bored. As the host nation, Team GB will be the last out.
  • 23:52
    Chef de mission Sonia O'Sullivan waves to the crowd as Team Ireland enters the stadium to audible whooping. Photograph: PA / Mike Egerton.
    Chef de mission Sonia O'Sullivan waves to the crowd as Team Ireland enters the stadium to audible whooping. Photograph: PA / Mike Egerton.
  • 23:58
    The crowd goes wild for GREAT Britain, as the voiceover man enunciates it. Sir Chris Hoy flies the Union Jack to the tune of David Bowie's Heroes. There's a ticker tape parade of 7 billion pieces of biodegradeable paper, which the BBC's Huw Edwards says are meant to represent each human being on the planet. We're all there in spirit, apparently. Even if you're an Olympic skeptic. Sorry.
  • 00:05
    Arctic Monkeys are now tearing into I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, their 2005 hit. Olympic fact: the frequent mention of "1984" in this song is not a reference to the Los Angeles games. But it could be. Here come the glow-winged cyclists... they look pretty cool. The cauldron, incidentally, was supposed to have been lit at midnight, so I suspect we are running behind schedule.
  • 00:05
    Asho The Queen busy fixing her nails!
  • 00:08
    Locog chairman Lord (Seb) Coe is having his moment in the global spotlight. "Welcome to London," he says, after a four-hour preamble. Wait - is that Steve Ovett coming up behind him? Enough of this peace for all mankind business: run, Sebastian, run!
  • 00:13
    Famously hard-to-please Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of #Romneyshambles infamy is here, despite his misgivings. He plus wife Ann clap like they've never clapped before as they welcome Team USA into the stadium. Photograph: AP.
    Famously hard-to-please Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of #Romneyshambles infamy is here, despite his misgivings. He plus wife Ann clap like they've never clapped before as they welcome Team USA into the stadium. Photograph: AP.
  • 00:18
    IOC chief Jacques Rogge notes that all teams have sent both men and women this time. "This is a major boost for gender equality," he says. See, it is the Feminist Olympics. The Fem-Olympics. The Equilympics. Let's coin a phrase. He also thanks the volunteers, as well he might - there were 10,000 of them just for the opening ceremony and they gave up every weekend in June and July to rehearse. Rogge now asks the Queen, looking fetching in peach, to open the games. "I now declare the games open," says the Queen, controversially.
  • 00:24
    The Olympic flag is carried by eight people, including Doreen Lawrence, the justice-seeking mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence; UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon; Liberty founder Shami Chakrabarti and Brazilian environmentalist and politician Marina Silva. Muhammad Ali is there, representing the Olympic ideal, whatever that is. To be honest, the moment in the Atlanta 1996 games when Ali lit the cauldron will probably never be topped for pathos and I say that as someone who wasn't even alive when he was fighting. Everyone is now standing for the Olympic anthem as the Olympic flag is raised.
  • 00:26
    David Beckham has been on the world's slowest speedboat this entire time. His bit over with, Sir Steve Redgrave is now in possession of the Olympic flame and will carry it into the stadium. Now would not be a good time to pull a hamstring, Steve.
  • 00:30
    Sarah Stevenson, the British Taekwondo world champion who tragically lost both her parents last year, makes a fair play, sportsmanship and anti-doping statement on behalf of the athletes. Let's hope there aren't too many high-profile positive drugs tests, or even low-profile ones, and we can believe all that we see during these games.
  • 00:33
    A group of "promising" young British athletes nominated by famous Olympians have taken custody of the flame from Redgrave. There's no sign of Jedward, just in case anyone was wondering / breaking out into a cold sweat. In fact, there's been no Cowellesque moments at all tonight - Danny Boyle clearly doesn't watch The X Factor. But who will light the cauldron? Who? Who? And where is the cauldron?
  • 00:41
    The seven young athletes nominated by their Olympian elders use the torch to light 200 copper petals, the stems of which then rise from the ground and coalesce to form a cauldron in the air. It's an amazing, awesome sequence, and I'm glad there wasn't a single person chosen as a figurehead to light the cauldron. As I said earlier, no one individual could have topped the 1996 Muhammad Ali moment. The cauldron was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, who is apparently known for innovative use of engineering in public sculpture. Well done, Sir-to-be Thomas. A friend who is watching the ceremony in the pub texts to say "that is totally the Eye of Sauron", as in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, so I hope that was the look he was going for.
  • 00:49
    After the glory of the cauldron, listening to Paul McCartney croak his way through Hey Jude feels like an anti-climax - and also a not particularly novel ending to what's been a delightfully idiosyncratic show. "Welcome to London," says the famous Liverpudlian. The show's over, roughly 15 minutes after it was scheduled to end. Back to the BBC hosts. Sue Barker says the ceremony was "immensely funny", while Gary Lineker deems it "quintessentially British". Michael Johnson's favourite part was James Bond reporting for duty to the Queen. Over on RTE, boxer-turned-commentator Bernard Dunne says "without doubt it was an incredible spectacle" but that it's time for the athletes to start focusing. Wise words, Bernard.
  • 00:56
    Asking seven young athletes who no one has ever heard of to light the cauldron was all about "literally passing the torch to the next generation", it seems. Or as they say in the mockumentary Twenty Twelve, it's the legacy, yah. The ceremony was very enjoyable, but frankly I think they could have found a role for Dame Judi Dench. And while Mary Poppins vs Voldemort was good fun, I'd have liked to have seen Barbara Windsor take on the Daleks in a win-or-die game of Swingball. Was that really too much to ask? I remain hopeful for the closing ceremony.
  • 01:02
    The Olympic cauldron is on fire! Let the games begin. And let them end at some point, too. Photograph: Stephen Pond / PA.
    The Olympic cauldron is on fire! Let the games begin. And let them end at some point, too. Photograph: Stephen Pond / PA.
  • 01:20
    That's the end of tonight's live blog - Laura Slattery signing off after the kaleidoscopic extravaganza of pomp, tongue-in-cheek festival of culture and ear-to-ear national pride that was the London 2012 opening ceremony. The competitive action begins early tomorrow and it's a gold medal day in swimming, the cycling road race, judo, fencing, shooting, weightlifting and archery. Best of luck to all the Irish athletes in action. I'm off to continue my training for the Modern Pentathlon - I have high hopes of qualification for Rio 2016. Indeed, my prediction is that we'll all want to transform ourselves into Olympians after a fortnight of watching superhuman athletic endeavour. There will be tears. There will be controversy. But, best of all, there will be pole-vaulting. Goodnight.