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London 2012: World's Press Heaps Praise On The Olympic Opening Ceremony

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It had been shrouded in intense secrecy in the run-up to the Games, but the wait for the London 2012 opening ceremony seemed to be worthwhile as viewers around the globe heaped praise on Danny Boyle's epic showpiece.

Billions of people from across the world tuned in to watch the £27 million spectacular, while thousands of others travelled to the UK to witness the official start of the sporting celebration in person.

The three-and-a-half-hour show seemed to be an instant hit with many, with its British sense of humour and vibrant soundtrack celebrated by viewers from other countries.

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opening ceremony

Flamin' brilliant: The world's press gave the opening ceremony the thumbs up

The Times of India called the ceremony "dazzling", adding that London had "presented a vibrant picture of Great Britain's rich heritage and culture".

The Queen's cameo appearance was a particular highlight for the non-British audience as she took part in a comical segment filmed in Buckingham Palace with Daniel Craig, before seemingly parachuting into the Olympic Stadium with the James Bond star.

Los Angeles Times sports reporter Bill Plaschke tweeted: "James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II 'parachute' into the stadium, then kids in pyjamas sing the national anthem... works for me."

Another LA Times reporter, who tweeted shortly after Harry Potter author JK Rowling read from Peter Pan, said: "The Queen acting, JK Rowling reading in public, can you top this?"

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  • The appearance of Mr Bean also got viewers from the other side of the Atlantic chuckling, with Rowan Atkinson's comical character seeming to go down well with the American press.

    Mr Plaschke tweeted: "Mr Bean hams it up during playing of Chariots of Fire... hilarious.. this is becoming can't-miss ceremony."

    A fellow LA Times reporter wrote: "Rowan Atkinson segment, very clever."

    Another wrote: "Mr Bean one of the night's scripted surprises."

    The ceremony's showcasing of Britain's rich musical history was another highlight with the use of songs from UK's finest singers and performers seeming to be a massive hit.

    KC Johnson from the Chicago Tribune tweeted: "The Jam has been played. I can go home now. Oh, wait, Arctic Monkeys and Sir Paul still to come. Musical heaven."

    Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times journalist Philip Hersh tweeted: "Did MTV produce this?"

    He also heaped praise on the upbeat nature of the athletes' parade.

    "This parade of athletes has much more of a party atmosphere than in past... feels like closing ceremony mood," he said.

    The cinematic element of the ceremony was singled out, with the New York Times describing the show as "visually stunning".

    But some segments of the showpiece seemed to be lost on particular viewers.

    Los Angeles Times sports writer Diane Pucin said: "For the life of me, though, am still baffled by NHS tribute at opening ceremonies. Like tribute to United Health Care or something in US."

    The fact the Olympic torch was lit by a number of young athletes seemed unpopular with some.

    Mr Plaschke tweeted: "Very symbolic ending, but sort of anticlimatic... I like my cauldron lit by one person... and a person people have heard of."

    John Cherwa from the LA Times wrote: "Hated the flame lighting. Just make a decision and pick someone."

    The decision to ask former Beatle Paul McCartney to sing out the ceremony was well received.

    David Haugh from the Chicago Tribune said: "McCartney can still bring it... Na, na, na, na, na,na, na, na... show ending appropriately on a high after confusing cauldron lighting."

    Australian journalist Karen Tighe said that Boyle had "hit the nail on the head" with the opening ceremony.

    The Perth-based ABC Sports presenter told BBC Radio 5Live: "It was a fantastic start to the Games. I'm so glad there was no temptation to be better and bigger than Beijing - it was wonderful in its own way and it all came across so well."

    She added: "Visually it looked spectacular, there was humour and the overall picture - I think he (Boyle) hit the nail on the head."

    Mrs Tighe said the length of the show was a negative point and also expressed disappointment over the lighting of the cauldron.

    "I really loved the inspiration of a new generation, but it kind of felt a bit of an anti-climax at that point."

    Meanwhile, The New York Times described the "hilariously quirky" celebration as a "noisy, busy, witty, dizzying production".

    It added: "Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is."

    The LA Times also heaped further praise on the occasion.

    It said in a review of the ceremony: "An atmosphere of whimsy and party won out over pomp and circumstance during an Olympic opening ceremony that allowed an economically beleaguered Britain to pat itself on the back.

    "The ceremony could not have been more of a contrast from Beijing's four years ago, replacing Chinese militaristic precision with British fancifulness."

    Meanwhile the China Daily said the pageant was "kaleidoscopic".

    "Britain's Queen Elizabeth declared the London Olympics open after playing a cameo role in a dizzying ceremony designed to highlight the grandeur and eccentricities of the nation that invented modern sport," it said.

    Designer Wayne Hemingway said it was an "amazing" ceremony.

    The Morecambe-born founder of Red or Dead said: "It just makes me so proud.

    "Watching it made me proud to be a Lancastrian. Danny Boyle is from just down the road to me and so much of my life was in this, everything I believe in, the history from the industrial revolution right through to the NHS."

    Hemingway said: "The musical bit was perfection from the wit and the guts to put Tiger Feet among the Beatles and the Who and then to give pretty much the whole of Pretty Vacant.

    "Normally it would be brushed over, but the punk spirit which is in Britain was written through the ceremony.
    "Anyone cynical about this has no lust for life, it's just bloody brilliant.

    "I don't think anyone could find a fault. He deserves a knighthood."

    Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg agreed, tweeting: "Impressive though #openingceremony in Beijing was, they didn't have any great pop music to play, did they?"

    Not everyone was so enthusiastic. Art critic Brian Sewell said he would not watch the show.

    Speaking before the ceremony, he said: "I was not planning to watch it but then the 10 O'Clock News ran a snippet of it which merely reinforced my plan not to watch it."

    Novelist and journalist Tony Parsons was more positive, saying: "Sneering at the Olympics is like sneering at Christmas. Do you want to be with Danny Boyle or Mitt Romney? Time to stop synchronised moaning."

    Wallander star Kenneth Branagh featured as the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, reading from Shakespeare's The Tempest in the historical section.

    Historian Tom Holland tweeted: "Shakespeare. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Nimrod. Lots of Victorians in top hats. The Industrial Revolution. If only sport was always like this."

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