Each Olympics opening ceremony says something about its host nation - and Friday night told a tale of Britain that made us proud, amused and delighted the world. The longest ad for Britain ever seen - and watched by an estimated 1 billion viewers. It was a Britain confident of its history and its place in the world, able to crack a joke and stage a spectacular, that made us laugh, moved us to tears and help the world celebrate the coming of the Games to London for a historic third time.
Danny Boyle and his team filled the world with energy and colour - of our literature and fashion, music and film. World-famous stars rocked the stadium. But this was also a show delivered by over 15,000 volunteers.
And through the whole spectacular Isles of Wonder there was that undercurrent of quirkiness and spontaneity, that sense of eccentricities that defines Britain.
Walking into the stadium I saw for the first time how Danny Boyle had created a living poster for our countryside, thatched cottages and picnics in the fields, sheep and geese and horses on the plough, games of cricket and rugby and children round the maypole. A pastoral idyll maybe but also a message that there is so much more to Britain than our vibrant cities.
Quiet reflective moments created light and shade, tempering the high-octane rock and dance sequences. Shakespeare's words spoken by Sir Kenneth Branagh reading from Caliban's speech in the Tempest, 'Be not afeard, the isle is full of noise' - the inspiration for the show with its love of the beauty of the island. And a sombre moment as we paid tribute to the fallen of all wars and conflicts.
And then the most ambitious of scene changes as chest-vibrating drum beats turned beautiful countryside to the 'dark satanic mills' of the industrial revolution. Factories and a foundry rose up from which were forged the five Olympic rings of molten 'steel' that made one of the show's stunning visuals.
Great fun was had with our nation's contribution to literature when the children from Great Ormond Street hid under the covers as Lord Voldemort appeared, joined by a flying fleet of Mary Poppins... and the show moved to take in the stories that have delighted children around the world and start a lifelong love of Britain.
And on and on... a tribute to British film... well of course that hilarious Chariots of Fire moment with Mr Bean and the rather more suave James Bond... but so many that we played 'spot that clip', and the riotous music segments... starting with the Who, the Stones and the Beatles... David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Queen... the Sex Pistols... as the stadium lit up with noise and laughter and lights.
So thank you Danny Boyle, and to everyone who took part last night - you entertained us and made us proud. And to the rest of the world watching, how could you resist that magic? Come and see us and experience it for yourself - You're Invited!
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