The 2012 Olympic Games are underway following a dazzling three hour opening ceremony that’s been described as breathtaking and typically British.
The show took the 60,000 strong crowd at east London’s Olympic stadium on an adventure through the UK’s cultural heritage from Shakespeare to Harry Potter.
While the British monarch wouldn’t normally play up for the cameras, Queen Elizabeth II – or someone who looked just like her – was seen parachuting into the stadium after being picked up from Buckingham Palace by James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) in a helicopter.
The 30th Olympics opening ceremony was created by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle at a cost of 34 million euros.
The UK’s dominance of contemporary music was also celebrated with performances by Arctic Monkeys and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.
Other highlights included footballer David Beckham steering the Olympic flame down London’s River Thames in a speedboat and Mr Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) accompanying the London Symphony Orchestra to the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire.
More than 10,000 volunteers also took part as performers and extras.
The London 2012 Games will see 16,000 athletes from 204 countries competing for gold. It is the first Olympics where women athletes are represented by every country taking part.
The night was rounded off by a dazzling fireworks display after a gigantic cauldron of fire inside the stadium was lit by seven young British athletes.
The show was watched by an estimated 1 billion global TV and web audience.