And with a final rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ that’s it. Except it’s not the end. It’s just the end of the beginning. Thanks to one and all for following; it’s been a blast. Let the games begin!

12.41pm: Well, one half of my wish came true. It’s Paul McCartney. Remember? From Wings. Amongst other things. 

12.37pm: If this doesn’t end with a Boris-McCartney duet, I’ll weep. Redgrave and other delegates pass the lighting of the flame to young representatives. The final torch is utterly gorgeous. It rather puts Rowling’s Goblet of Fire to shame.

12.31pm: And the final torchbearer is Steve Redgrave. Good, safe choice from the committee – our greatest Olympian ever. I can put the phone back now, then. I had my trainers ready and everything.

12.21pm: That’s a good one to have on the CV. UN Champion of the Earth. Good for dinner parties too, I’d imagine. Blows rocket-scientist and brain-surgeon out of the water.

12.14pm: How to get a job as President of the IOC? Dynamism, verve, and a zest for life, it seems.

12.12pm: We did it correctly, Seb. Now isn’t the time for colloquialisms.

12.11pm: It’s time for the speeches and official opening, and Lord Coe’s borrowed some goggles from the squash team. I imagine there will be a few ‘indelible marks’ on those pristine white uniforms at the sight of that big a crowd. 

12.07pm: It must have been a difficult decision late one night in the ceremonial consultative meetings. ‘Flying bicycles?’ ‘Yeah, why not?’

12.03pm: Innovative fireworks hark back to the opening of the ceremony, transforming the stadium into a thatched cottage. At least, that’s what I’ll claim.

11.58pm: And we’re out. I can hear Jermyn Street cringing from here. At least Bond was well dressed.

11.51pm: Elbow patches? Uruguay giving the Romanians a run for their money. Antique-chic.

11.49pm: America taking their costume-cue from the Wimbledon line judges, there.

11.48pm: They ought to put better use to this conveyer belt of nations. Perhaps next time the organisers could combine the event with Eurovision? It’s in your hands, Rio di Janeiro. 

11.43pm: Boyle’s ‘Glastonbury Tor’ looking more and more like a fortress with those flags surrounding it. All it needs are a few heads to go on its spikes. Nominations? Lay on, readers.

11.33pm: It’s becoming a bit of a cop-out just to keep on quoting Mr Nelson. But I can’t resist this one: ‘It’s like being in a lesson here. All these countries I’ve never heard of.’

11.30pm: Award nominations for best dressed? My vote goes to the Romanian delegation, for their mustard jackets and cravats. Beats our inevitable trackies.

11.23pm: Sneak-preview of the US team wearing berets, no less. Bien sur. Do comment below, or @Cherwell_Online with your highlights and thoughts so far.

11.16pm: ‘The beat’s pretty rapid’. That’s exactly how I’d describe it, Huw. Encroaching on Trevor’s territory a little though?

11.13pm: Weary of the parading? Take a welcome gander at this entertaining video of athletic mishaps.

11.10pm: ‘Kyrgyzstan, one of the only countries whose name contains only a single vowel’. Glad to see the BBC commentary team is scraping the bottom of the same barrel as me.

11.06pm: Danny Boyle is apparently responsible for the first lesbian kiss broadcast on Saudi television. Good on him. Usain’s swaggering out.

11.04pm: I bet the Duke of Edinburgh’s having a field day. Maybe that’s why the Queen’s keeping terse-lipped. 

10.59pm: It’s a real triumph for the mum-viewers this evening. Thanks to Anna Broadley, whose message informs me that hers mistook Emeli Sande for Elaine Paige. Mine’s just compared watching this procession to ‘having a chronic disease’. Entering into the spirit, then.

10.55pm: Trevor Nelson (on Fiji’s topless flag bearer): ‘Oh Fiji’s my favourite. What a hero.’ Thanks, Trev. Making my job easier.

10.51pm: You don’t have to be really, really tall to carry your country’s flag, but it certainly helps. Adele blares in the background. Presumably Boyle was taking her literally when she asked him to ‘set fire to the rain.’

10.45pm: So… We’re still only on ‘C’. To cheer us all up, the Cubans have come in dressed up as bananas.

10.38pm: Twitter’s lit up, as expected. Nick Robinson, BBC political correspondent, is being his usual adventurous self: ‘Stirring, moving, patriotic but can’t help analysing the politics of the ceremony…’ Oh, Nick. You’re a one.

10.32pm: HOORAY, Trevor’s back. He likes ‘the snazzy outfitzz’.

10.31pm: The Bangladeshi delegate’s taking quite a liberal approach to his flag waving technique. Much to the irritation of the poor girl standing next to him.

10.26pm: An important message to the world’s leaders: choose your national colours wisely. Else you’ll end up looking like flight attendants on all sorts of important occassions.

10.24pm: I must admit, I’ve been dreading this bit. There’s going to be quite a long section now, mainly involving participants from different nations walking in. Which is quite hard to keep up an entertaining commentary upon. I’m going to be navigating a veritable minefield of race-based humour.

10.22pm: And, an hour and twenty minutes in, we get our first sight of some athletes. Mummy Fennemore’s brought in some late-evening scotch eggs. Bet you wish you were here.

10.18pm: Those dramatic dancers I raised an eyebrow to earlier are in fact commemorating those who died in the 7/7 attacks. They’re excused. At least Trevor’s keeping his mouth shut.

10.12pm: They’re running another montage over what I’m told is an emergency. Richard Burton’s desperately trying to get hold of Danny Boyle. With ‘only’ Clint Eastwood to protect him.

10.10pm: Well, that’s Trevor Nelson’s specialist area over. Wasn’t he worth it? Tim Berners Lee appears to have a blank white screen on his computer. Must be running Microsoft.

10.03pm: I imagine the Queen’s loving this. I also imagine that the Archbishop’s providing some top quality banter sitting behind her.

10pm: It’s the music medley section. They’re making a bit of a song and dance about it. Tee Hee.

9.55pm: A sequence about ‘the digital age’ now. They didn’t invite me. Dancers keep the crowd amused whilst we watch some ‘classic’ British clips by twirling some giant glowsticks. Daddy Fennemore turns the volume down.

9.50pm: I’ll shut up for a bit and let you bask in the glory of Rowan Atkinson’s visual humour.

9.44pm: Somebody shut Trevor Nelson up. ‘I really like the use of children in this so far’. Let’s have one of those Mary Poppinses smack him round the face with her umbrella.

9:39pm: All the children are hiding under their beds from JK Rowling. Cheer up, kids, at least it’s not Carol Ann Duffy.

9:38pm: A rather sinister section to Mark Oldfield’s Exorcist theme tune of Tubular bells is replaced by something altogether more upbeat and swingy in celebration of the NHS and Great Ormond Street. ‘They’re actually trampolines look, not beds’ says Daddy Fennemore. Ever the insightful.

9.34pm: James Bond AND the Queen AND Dambusters. That was utterly superb. Boyle firmly raises two fingers to any republicans. The French commentary employs a nice mix of English verbiage, just to show them who’re still the kings of language. Up goes the flag to the anthem, in front of a rather grouchy looking queen. At least we got the right flag.

9.25pm: Burning Olympic Rings. It’s Raining Fire. Photo creds to Austin Tiffany.

9.22pm: Take that, Romantic England. THIS…. IS…SMELTING!

9.17pm: And up rise those dark satanic mills like, well, I won’t say what. Branagh takes a puff from his cigar. And we’re already at WW1. At this rate, we’ll be done in ten minutes or so.

9.11pm: Kenneth Branagh presents a stunning rendition of Caliban’s speech. Dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And now Evelyn Glennie leads a depiction of the Industrial Revolution. Move your crops, lads, the men in the top hats have arrived.

9.07pm: Next, a charming medley from assorted schoolgirls throughout the constituent nations and principalities of GB. Including any chunk to ‘Danny Boyle’, was that? I must have misheard. And back to Jerusalem again. I’ve always thought that burning gold was a funny thing to make a bow out of. Each to their own, Mr Blake.

9.00pm: And we’re off! To a staggeringly good visual. I’ve got disappointingly few critical things to say about that. That was pretty damn cool. 

8.57pm: Maypole dancing, cricket, and ferris wheels, to the tune of Nimrod. This is what Britain is like. All of the time.

8.45pm: Fifteen minutes to go and a shouty chap wearing a short sleeved checked shirt has forgotten he’s got the modern blessing of a microphone in front of him. BBC warm-up coverage has included the usual welcome blend of Lineker and Barker, plenty of montage footage giving us an early Einuadi overdose, and some gentle ribbing of Amir Khan’s choice of wristwatch. And now for some Andrew Marr. In rather tight jeans.

Preamble: Gone are the days when an Olympic Opening Ceremony consisted of teams simply marching around the stadium wearing Sports Blazers and sensible pairs of slacks, to the tune of a brass band. This evening’s ceremony, directed by Slumdog superstar Danny Boyle, has been one of the most anticipated features of the London Games. Taking its inspiration from a speech by Caliban, a gnarly old chap from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Boyle has promised to transform the stadium with a luscious set depicting our ‘Isles of Wonder’. Don’t mention Hull.

Judging by sneak preview footage of the event, this incarnation involves a lot of bad behaviour (not that kind) on giant beds, dancers being all dramatic amidst gusts of haze, and cyclists. With luminous wings.

I’ll be accompanying you through this extravaganza with a regularly-updating commentary on the events as they unfold. This will be supplemented by exclusive photographs from Jonathan Goddard and Austin Tiffany, taken at one of the dress-rehearsals for tonight’s event. 

I’m not reassuring myself with any it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint nonsense. Because it is a sprint. And a marathon. A sprinted marathon. At Usain Bolt speeds, that’s 26 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes, breaking the world record by about an hour. Take that, Patrick Makau.

But all this strenuous activity isn’t just my responsibility. Get your fingers warmed up and prepared to be constantly tapping that F5 button to refresh the page, and follow the progression of the ceremony. Else you’ll be sitting here staring at the first entry for three hours. I’d hate for you to miss out. Do post your own comments in the box below, or message us on Twitter at @Cherwell_Online, and I’ll include your thoughts in the liveblog.

So join me at 9pm after an unfeasibly long BBC countdown to watch Danny Boyle piss away our cash unleash a worthwhile and cost-effective addition to a sports competition – and to see whether Boris can upstage £27 million worth of pyrotechnics. I can’t wait.