THE Queen turned Bond girl and some of Britain’s greatest Olympians teamed up with young athletes to light the Olympic Stadium flame as the London 2012 Games opened in spectacular fashion.
In a block-busting opening ceremony there were moments of humour and emotion and some stunning surprises, not least the unique design of the stadium cauldron, made up of over 200 flames.
Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, who within hours will be cycling for Team GB in the men’s road race, rang the giant bell which marked the start of the show at the Olympic Stadium.
Wearing a yellow jersey Wiggins, who less than a week ago became the first British man to win the tour, was greeted with huge cheers.
It was the dramatic start of a breathtaking ceremony capturing the best of Britain and masterminded by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
The Queen stole the show with her movie acting debut as she joined James Bond.
In a scene filmed in advance and screened for the first time, Bond actor Daniel Craig arrives at Buckingham Palace in a dinner jacket, striding past the corgis towards the royal study.
"Good evening Mr Bond," says the Queen, before they leave together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter.
Back in real time, to laughter and delight from the crowd, "the Queen" followed by "Bond", parachuted from a helicopter towards the arena.
Click on the link below for a gallery of the amazing opening ceremony
Seconds later the real Queen and Prince Philip received a standing ovation as they arrived.
Some details of the Bond stunt had emerged in advance of the £27 million opening ceremony.
But the Queen’s role - played to perfection - still left the audience awe-struck both in the stadium and around the world.
"The Queen made herself more accessible than ever before," Boyle said earlier.
Even as the show was going on, there were calls for Boyle to have his own date with the Queen - to receive a knighthood.
In another surprise Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean character created comic havoc and loads of laughs as he joined Sir Simon Rattle conducting the theme from Chariots of Fire.
Another tightly-kept secret was how the Olympic torch would make its final journey from central London down the River Thames to the stadium in east London.
The surprise was that it was former England captain David Beckham, who was shown steering a speedboat with young footballer Jade Bailey past Tower Bridge.
The show started simply with the stadium turned into a meadow, a green and pleasant land.
The world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell, weighing 23 tonnes and measuring two metres tall and three metres wide, rang to start a Shakespeare-inspired spectacle featuring 900 children from the six east London host boroughs.
The bell stood at one end of the stadium in Stratford, east London, while at the opposite end a version of Glastonbury Tor - a holy hill in south west England - was topped off with a giant oak.