Olympic opening ceremony: The stars who stole the show
From cycling stars to best-selling authors, they were the reminder of Britain's extraordinary range of talents. Nick Clark surveys the special guests
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Saturday 28 July 2012
Fresh from winning the Tour de France, the man with the famous sideburns rang the 23-ton Olympic Bell – the largest in Europe and the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world – to signal the start of the Opening Ceremony.
Striding into a scene of pastoral beauty, of milkmaids and cricketers, rolling fields and verdant hills, Sir Kenneth arrived dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He stunned the crowd with the speech from The Tempest hailing this "Isle of Wonder".
'Good evening, Mr Bond'
Escorting the Queen to the Opening Ceremony was not a job for any old security detail. In a specially commissioned film, Daniel Craig's James Bond strode into Buckingham Palace to escort HM. Ably supported by the corgis, the (actual) Queen aced her line – "Good evening, Mr Bond" – before being whisked by helicopter to the Olympic Stadium.
The Harry Potter author made a rare public appearance to read from Peter Pan. Children's baddies Captain Hook, Lord Voldemort and the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, threatened to take over but were banished by Mary Poppins.
As the strains of the anthem "Chariots of Fire" struck up, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, it emerged that none other than Mr Bean was on the keyboard. Rowan Atkinson gurned and contorted his way through the tune.
The local grime star sent the crowd wild rapping his hit "Bonkers" live during the medley of British music.
David Beckham may not have made the GB football team squad, but he made a huge impact at the Opening Ceremony. Becks drove the torch on a neon speedboat through a flaming Tower Bridge. Take that Giggsy.
Seven golden moments that made the night
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland