The London 2012 Olympic Games are open after a spectacular, warm and witty Opening Ceremony watched by an estimated one million people around the world.
In an unusual finish to the ceremony, seven young athletes representing the next sporting generation carried the Olympic Torch towards a giant flower structure.
204 petals representing all of the nations competing in the Games were lit and rose upwards to form one blazing Olympic cauldron, which will remain lit throughout the Games.
The Ceremony started with a fly-past by the RAF Red Arrows at precisely 20.12pm, which painted the sky above the stadium red, white and blue.
The packed arena in Stratford, east London, was filled with more than 70,000 people, some of whom had paid as much as £2,012 for a ticket.
Seating at the venue has been cut from its usual 80,000 capacity to make way for the stage, props and camera positions.
The opening scene, dreamt up by artistic director and Oscar winner Danny Boyle, was called A Green and Pleasant Land. Spectators were greeted with the sight of real sheep, cows and geese as they took their seats.
The set features a meadow, fields of grass, a river, families taking picnics, people playing cricket on a village green and farmers tilling the soil.
The rural idyll was quickly transformed into the "dark Satanic Mills" of the Industrial Revolution, represented by giant chimneys, beam engines and looms. The workers of the revolution forged the Olympic rings out of molten metal.
The familiar theme tune to the Chariots of Fire film heralded in the next section.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra played the tune, but there was an importer in the keyboard section in the form of Mr Bean.
In one of the most memorable sequences of the night, The Queen appeared to join James Bond in jumping out of a helicopter into the Olympic stadium.
The audience watched a pre-filmed sequence in which Bond actor Daniel Craig arrives at Buckingham Palace in a dinner jacket and strides past corgis to meet the Queen.
"Good evening Mr Bond," she says, before they leave together, apparently flying away in a helicopter towards the Olympic Stadium.
Seconds later, the same helicopter appeared over the stadium with figures that appeared to be The Queen and James Bond jumping out and para-gliding down into the stadium.
Wearing identical clothing to the actor in the parachute, her majesty The Queen appeared in the royal box soon after to rapturous applause.
Next was a section honouring the NHS in which dozens of volunteers - many of them NHS employees - performed a dance routine.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling also made an appearance, reading an excerpt from JM Barrie's Peter Pan at the start of a section devoted to British children's literature.
A long sequence paid tribute to five decades of British pop music, ending with local rapper Dizzee Rascal taking the stage.
Tribute was also paid to the British scientist and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
The words 'This is for everyone' were emblazoned around the edge of the stadium, referring to the Internet and how it has revolutionised modern communication.
Finally, the Olympic delegations of the 204 nations competing in the Games marched into the stadium one-by-one led out by Greece - the founder of the Olympic Games.
When Team GB finally appeared - the host nation always appears last according to tradition - the stadium exploded with cheers and confetti.
Sir Paul McCartney closed the evening with a rousing rendition of 'Hey Jude' as fireworks lit up the London skyline.