London 2012 Olympic Games began in earnest last night with a jaw-dropping opening ceremony directed by Bury’s Danny Boyle.
The ceremony was a roller-coaster celebration of all things British, charting the history of the nation from the Industrial Revolution to the NHS, from The Beatles to Bond.
One of the most memorable sequences involved Daniel Craig as James Bond alongside the Queen.
The Queen, making her first ever acting appearance, appeared to enter the Olympic Stadium alongside Craig via parachute in an homage to 1981 film For Your Eyes Only.
Her Union flag parachute was a nod to the Roger Moore film and she entered the box on foot alongside International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge.
The sequence began with Craig entering Buckingham Palace alongside two Corgi dogs and a butler before meeting the Queen in her bedroom.
Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire, and from Radcliffe, Bury, had spoken of how important the opening ceremony was to the start of the games.
He said: “"I want to make it so the people in the stadium feel like they've been at something unique."
The evening featured numerous references to the Greater Manchester director’s films, including the Underworld song ‘Born Slippy’ – the closing track to Boyle’s cult classic Trainspotting.
Paula Radcliffe tweeted: “Danny Boyle reminding us all what is so great about Great Britain.”
And it was former Manchester United star David Beckham who drove a boat up the River Thames containing the Olympic torch, passing it to five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave who ran it into the stadium, while 260 British Olympic medallists from 1948 to 2010 formed an honour guard.
Representatives of the 18,000 serving armed forces carried a Union flag and hoisted it before the national anthem was sang in front of a captivated capacity crowd.
Rowan Atkinson put in a stellar performance of Chariots of Fire as Simon Rattle conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.
Atkinson reprised his most famous role of Mr Bean on the keyboard and provided some comic relief taking part in a recreation of the classic 1981 film.
Boyle’s nod to the greats of the big screen was complimented with typical Bean-esque slapstick comedy.
The silent star, popular worldwide was then joined by a more abstract video element charting the increasing importance of the digital age.
Harry Hill, Oliver Twist and Blackadder were all involved in a video montage projected on a giant three dimensional house in the centre of the stadium.
Artists as diverse as Rizzle Kicks, The Jam and the Sugababes were all on show as Boyle also acknowledged the best of British music.
Sir Kenneth Brannagh, widely regarded as one of the country’s finest actors, was dressed as engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who the show creator views as the greatest ever Briton.
The proceedings began with cyclist Bradley Wiggins ringing a giant 23tonne bell. He was dressed in a yellow jersey to recognise his huge achievement in becoming the first ever British winner of the Tour de France.
The show then delighted the capacity crowd by plotting the course of the Industrial Revolution, where British design and engineering changed the world.
Spectators were then treated to a fantastic story plotting the suffragettes and the swinging 60s, including The Beatles.
Britain's multi-cultural history was also acknowledged when there was a recreation of The Windrush, the first ship to bring West Indian immigrants to these shores in the 1950s.
Just after midnight, Lord Seb Coe addressed not only the nation, but also the world .
"Welcome to London,” he said. “Welcome to the 2012 Olympic Games, welcome from every one of us. I have never been so proud to be British, and so proud to be part of the Olympic movement as I am on this day and at this moment.
"There is a truth in sport. In every Olympic sport there is all that matters in life, living for the moment but making an indellible mark in history.
"To my fellow countrymen I say thank you. Thank you for making all of this possible. In the next two weeks we will show all that has made London one of the greatest cities in the world, the only city to have welcomed the games three times."
Following this the Queen said: “"I declare open the games, celebrating the 30th Olympiad of the modern era.”
The opening sequence came to an outstanding finish when the Olympic rings were raised to the sky and lit up the stadium, leaving a burning memory for those in the stadium.
As well as the Queen, there were numerous other heads of state among the 60,000-strong audience, as well as world figures such as Michelle Obama.
Picture courtesy of BBC, via YouTube