Top 10 Best Bits from the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (rehearsal)Did you enjoy last night’s incredible Opening Ceremony? Danny Boyle’s magnum opus was a thrilling display of the history and culture of Great Britain, and had a massive positive response across the media, social networks, and with Londoners too.

From the rural beginnings with speeches from Shakespeare, through the Industrial Revolution, with nods to our great institutions (the NHS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the inventor of the World Wide Web), with comedy from Messrs Bean and Bond, Boyle’s show stretched both our imaginations, and it seemed, the walls of the stadium, as the show seemed to encompass the whole world inside the “steel O” to misquote Shakespeare! Here are my top 10 moments from the show, with tips on places to visit in London if you were similarly impressed.

1. Bradley Wiggins and that Huge Bell
What a way to start. Winner of the Tour de France and in possession of a snazzy new yellow jersey, Londoner Bradley Wiggins rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, at 23-tonnes cast by the Whitechapel Bell Company (est in 1570). Fancy visiting their factory? You can.

2. Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel
I’m a huge fan of actor Kenneth Branagh, and his reading of the “Isle is full of noises” speech was fantastic. He was representing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer responsible for many of the UK’s bridges and dockyards. You can learn more about this famous chap at the Brunel Museum, and take a tour through his Thames tunnel in Rotherhithe.

3. London Symphony Orchestra (and, of course, Mr Bean)
Have you ever seen a better one-finger ostinato than that performed by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean? It was one of several very funny moments, but behind it all was the London Symphony Orchestra, with Vangelis’ tune from Chariots of Fire swelling under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. You can see the orchestra play throughout the year in London.

4. James Bond Visiting Buckingham Palace
Another brilliant comic turn, this time from HM The Queen herself. A pouty Daniel Craig took a trip to Buckingham Palace before executing the most incredible arrival at a party ever; you too can visit the Queen’s residence during the summer months. And if you’re a big Bond fan, don’t miss the current Barbican exhibition about our most famous spy.



5. JK Rowling Reading Peter Pan
Another of my highlights was hearing Harry Potter author JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan, before a team of hundreds of children performed a piece representing the wealth of children’s literature from Great Britain. If you were inspired by the literary display, why not try our Peter Pan Day Out, or visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to see behind the scenes of JK Rowling’s incredible world.

6. Tim Berners-Lee – Inventor of the World Wide Web
An unsung hero of the modern age, and a key player in the digital revolution, Londoner Tim Berners-Lee made a guest appearance in the Ceremony, live tweeting “This is for everyone” which certainly made me want to cry! You can learn more about computer scientists like Tim at the Science Museum in London.

7. Dancer Akram Khan’s Moving Nod to Mortality
Earlier silliness was tempered with stillness as another Londoner, British Bangladeshi dancer Akram Khan performed a moving dance work called Mortality. Having held the post of associate artist at the Southbank Centre, he’s currently associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, and regularly performs in London. Keep an eye on our dance pages to see him perform again in London.

8. David Beckham’s Speedboat Along the Thames
Later, the mood changed again, as we were treated to the view of the lovely David Beckham sweeping along the Thames on a speedboat. Were you tempted? I’ve done it too, on one of the Speedboat Tours available in London, and I totally recommend it. (I can’t promise you’ll get the same fireworks as you pass under Tower Bridge, but the adrenaline rush is the same!)

9. The Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick
There were so many well-kept secrets surrounding the ceremony, but one of the best was the cauldron and the identity of the final torchbearers. It was yet another emotional moment when the young athletes circled the stadium, and lit the 204 petals representing each country, which then rose together to create the cauldron. Want to know more about the Thomas Heatherwick Design Studios? There’s an exhibition dedicated to the team on at the V&A until 30 September.

10. The Great British Music
Finally, what about the amazing music that played throughout? So many great British musicians were given a moment in the spotlight: from Elgar to Underworld; from Charles Parry to the Arctic Monkeys; from the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal. If you’re a fan of Sir Paul McCartney, make sure you visit the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing next time you’re in London; you can also pay tribute to the history of British music at the British Music Experience at The O2.

What were your favourite moments? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Jo says:

    I loved every minute of the ceremony and very tempted by an evening speedboat tour!

  2. JC says:

    An amazing show from start to finish. Danny Boyle should get a knighthood.

  3. tg says:

    My take: most boring show ever, plain and boring. but of course self-impressed and self-righthous! All of UK going down the drain, but nurses dancing – how out of it. I’m not sure how the Scottish and Irish feel being portraid as belonging to this sort of “united” kingdom.

    • Tommo says:

      Really? I’m Scottish, and the show was lots of things, but it wan’t boring!! Great music, great lighting, showed weve got a sense of humour. Kudos to Danny Boyle, I say.

  4. Cathy says:

    Just like an end of year school show (on bigger scale of course), with a joint primary and Secondary Sch which included Mums and Dads. School productions have kept me more enthraled than last night’s embarrassment.

    Portrayed GB as mediocre and backward looking to an age when Britania ruled the waves and it was Insdustrial hub of the world. Today, GB’s instrustry is Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) fixing, Infinate Rehypothecation, Dark Pools and £Trillions dealt in automated algorythmic trades including Dark Pools and Shadow Banking. According to Cameron, that’s what contributes most to our GDP, which is why he doesn’t want us t regulate.

    Show was propaganda to make us believe we all live in Lancashire ….. Riidiculous. It’s going to be interesting reading what the foreign press say!

  5. Fella says:

    I’m not british, but wished I was yesterday ! the show was amazingly well done, the music was breathtaking, the sceneries awesome and the torch lightning was so simple, reverberating and so british ! really loved it !

  6. Pete Stean says:

    I’m still stunned that they managed to convince HMQ to take part – and there’s a knighthood for Daniel Craig sooner rather later I imagine…

  7. Jo says:

    It’s certainly got everyone talking. I overheard several conversations on my way into work: “phenomenal”, “loved the bit with the nurses and the kids jumping on the beds”, “music was good”. Someone asked the question “would people abroad get it?”. Judging by the response on http://www.facebook.com/visitlondon the answer seems to be yes!

  8. Juliana says:

    I´m from Brazil i don´t think we´ll be able to make a show better than Britains in 2016. I loved it!

  9. Melissa says:

    The opening ceremony was awesome! But what was the name of the song that was playing while Beckham was seemingly driving the speedboat escorting the torchbearer to the stadium? Anyone?

  10. CATHERINE says:

    I must agree with the other posters the ceremony was breath taking and thoroughly enjoyable. Well done the UK,Ps I live in the ROI, and did not find it patronizing at all. Awesome, Wonderful cant’ say enough good things about it

  11. Londonette says:

    Fantastic show, very exciting to be here during the London 2012 Olympics! Loved the goth-industrial-punk touches, right on!

  12. Hej says:

    OMG it was the best ceremony i ever have seen! <3

  13. jimmyjam says:

    The tune I want to find is the one playing whilst Becks is buzzing down the Thames. It’s not the Caliban’s Dream as mentioned above. It’s the one playing on this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKlcaDwQiIY&feature=colike

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