Opening ceremony

Emily Cadman

Whilst ancedotes about Olympic fever are two a penny at the moment, do we actually have any evidence about how interested people are? Well these power demand charts, courtesy of the National Grid, perhaps offer one rough and ready way of looking at how engaged the stay at home audience has been at key points.

Firstly, of all the highest TV audience to date – the opening ceremony. The annotations on the charts are from analysts at the National Grid.

The pink line shows electricity demand for the equivalent Friday a year ago, and the blue line the actual demand during the opening ceremony – which drew an average of 22.4m viewers, the highest since 1998, and a peak audience at 9.45pm of 26.9m.

On it you can clearly see the suppression of electricity demand for key parts of the ceremony, and then above trend (demand excess) usage as the evening wore on.

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Just over half-way through there can be little doubt that the 2012 London Olympics has given Brand Britannia a very big boost, at least qualitatively, writes Sir Martin Sorrell.

Arguments may rage over the quantitative benefit. Will the legacy justify the £9bn infrastructure investment? Will consumer and tourist spending be enhanced to the tune of £850m, as Visa, a major Olympic sponsor suggests? Will advertising and marketing spending be boosted beyond the normal and the £750m predicted?

Whatever the relative strengths of these arguments, there is no doubt the intangible benefits have been considerable in many ways so far.

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Hannah Kuchler

The start of the opening ceremony on July 27 (ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

The writer of the Olympic opening ceremony has criticised David Cameron for defending Dow Chemical, one of the sponsors of the games, and called on the government to help make the Olympics a space for resolving conflict.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who worked with director Danny Boyle in creating last Friday’s spectacle, said the project was wrought with moral difficulty. He also criticised another corporate sponsor – Visa – for their Olympic park ”proud to only accept visa” ads - and G4S, the outsourcing company which failed to supply enough security guards for the games. Read more

Esther Bintliff

A torch from the 1948 London Olympics (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The great day has arrived: 12 hours to go until the opening ceremony begins! To help you cope with the wait, here’s our roundup of some of the best Olympics coverage – and the highlights of the schedule today.

1) Simon Kuper says the Olympic legacy for London “won’t be economic stimulus, or a mass post-games take-up of synchronised swimming, but something less tangible: a feeling of togetherness, a new London identity”.

2) The opening ceremony is a “peculiar manifestation of geopolitical machismo” writes Matthew Engel, comparing the event’s inevitable rituals to those of the Catholic church. “Thankfully, the doves are now released after the flame is lit, not before, following the incineration of several birds at the 1988 games in Seoul,” he adds. Read more

At a final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night for London’s opening ceremony – the vision of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director Danny Boyle – some 50,000 ticket holders, which included myself in the nose-bleed seats, were presented with a uniquely British affair.

Without wishing to divulge the plot more than has already been revealed publicly, the spectacle traces the Britain’s history through a pastiche of dance, song, film, literature and audience interaction. Read more