Paralympic Games opening ceremony text commentary

Follow the ceremony as the 2012 Paralympic Games open in London

9 September 2012 Last updated at 20:13

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As it happened

  1. 1930: 

    Good evening and welcome to our live text commentary of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony as the Games in full return to Britain for the first time in their 64-year history.

    Back in 1948, those Games at Stoke Mandeville hospital featured just 16 injured servicemen. Tonight's ceremony will see a record 4,200 athletes from 164 nations parade into the stadium.

  2. 1931: 

    The ceremony itself starts in one hour at 20:30 BST and will be shown live on Channel 4. You can also listen live coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live.

  3. 1937: 

    The event is titled "Enlightenment" and directors Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey promise to take the audience on "a journey of discovery inspired by the wonder of science and its power to transform perceptions."

    The guide for the evening will be celebrated physicist Professor Stephen Hawking.

  4. 1938: 

    Shakespeare's character of Miranda from The Tempest will feature strongly in the ceremony, as will the British brolly and thousands of apples.

  5. 1940: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    Katy Horne and Kathy Sullivan are dishing out apples to curious spectators as they make their way into the stadium. "I've given out about 500 so far," says Kathy, from Chigwell in Essex. "I'm just telling people not to eat them until they're asked as it's part of the show."

  6. 1941: 

    The 24-hour torch relay which started yesterday evening at the birthplace of the Paralympics, Stoke Mandeville, will end with the lighting of the cauldron.

    As you may know, the relay is running two hours behind schedule but fear not, a back-up flame is already in Stratford to ensure this evening's events go ahead as scheduled.

  7. 1945: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    Christine and Mark Holland said they were ecstatic to be here for the ceremony. The Weston-super-Mare couple had tried and failed to get tickets for the Olympics, having been on the ticketing website 24/7 in vain. But they're soaking up the atmosphere - and the sunshine - at the stadium now.

  8. 1954: 

    One nation which won't now be taking part in the Games is Malawi which withdrew through lack of funding. Visually impaired sprinters Chisomo Jeremani and Janet Shedani along with two guides and four officials had been set to travel to London. The south east African nation was to be one of 15 debutants at the Games.

  9. 1958: 

    As we count down to the start of the ceremony, take a look at some of the pictures of today's Paralympic torch relay which travelled through the night from Aylesbury to London, taking in the capital's sights - even some penguins - on its journey to Stratford.

  10. 2006: 

    You'll hear a lot tonight about a "homecoming" for the Paralympics as they were founded in 1948 by pioneering neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire. Find out more here.

  11. 2014: 

    Prime Minister David Cameron is in the stadium and said: "It's a great atmosphere and it really says something that for a Paralympic ceremony this incredible auditorium [is full] and it's going to be a great night."

    He added that the Games would be "the biggest ever. Crucially the events are a sell out and that's never happened before.

    "It's going to change people's minds about disability and it will teach people to ask what people can do rather than what they can't do. The Paralympic athletes overcome disadvantages and then go on and do really amazing things."

  12. 2019: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    The pre-show has just finished. Pulp's Common People is blaring from the sound system, camera flashes and brollies lighting up the pitch area. UV-lit stage looks like an upturned umbrella-come-satellite dish with the moon as its handle pointing at the stars.

  13. 2021: 

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson is also in the Olympic Stadium tonight and said: "The ticket sales are extraordinary. We have never seen 2.4m tickets sold before and we're going to have to allow more people on to the Park."

    Asked why the Paralympics have proved so popular he said: "Attitudes have changed a lot in this country in the last 15 to 20 years. The public know Paralympic sport is incredible to watch and the sheer excitement of the Olympics has teed it up brilliantly has created an enormous appetite in this country.

    "I didn't know much Paralympic sport before watching wheelchair basketball in Beijing but I had never seen anything like it. So-called ordinary basketball is not a patch on it. What the public see is athletes who have trained, who are genuinely talented and who have genuine passion in what they do."

  14. 2030: 

    Here we go then folks, this is the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, the first full Games to be held here since the inaugural event in 1948.

  15. 2031: 

    And here's our narrator and guide for the evening - none other than celebrated physicist Professor Stephen Hawking.

    He is speaking of the quest for understanding the origins of the universe.

  16. 2032: 

    A sphere ignites the "big bang" - something which Hawking has written about extensively. Fireworks are exploding all around. And from the wonders of space to something a lot closer to home: British rain and umbrellas - which will form something of a theme this evening.

  17. 2035: 

    "Ella Ella Ella" - street dance group Flawless perform to Rihanna's hit track, accompanied by 4.5m high sway poles and aerial choreography.

  18. 2037: 

    This opening section introduces the ceremony's central character, Miranda, Shakespeare's heroine who discovers a brave new world. Sir Ian McKellen is a Prospero figure, speaking to Miranda and us.

  19. 2038: 

    Professor Hawking says: "We live in a universe governed by rational laws that we can discover and understand. Look up at the stars, and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."

  20. 2039: 

    It is still unclear at this stage whether the Paralympic torch relay will get to the Olympic Stadium in time for the scheduled cauldron lighting. If they don't make it, a back-up splinter flame will do the job instead.

  21. 2041: 

    The cast now reforms to create the image of a giant eye, belonging to Miranda, staring out of the stadium.

    Stephen Hawking encourages her to be curious and she sees Newton's apple, a revolving book showing the text of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a pulsating ball of energy representing the Higgs particle.

    Has the Olympic Stadium turned into a giant Hadron Collider?

  22. 2043: 

    A 430-strong choir is now performing Principia - a new work by Errollyn Wallen. The title echoes Sir Isaac Newton's treatise Principia Mathmatica and the lyrics celebrate science and human endeavour. The whole ceremony is called Enlightenment and has a scientific theme.

  23. 2045: 

    "Look up at the stars, look up at the stars" urge the choir and the "umbrella" with Miranda on top turns into the globe.

  24. 2046: 

    This section is entitled Majesty and it heralds the entrance of the Queen - who is making a more conventional arrival than at the Olympic opening ceremony when she appeared to parachute out of a helicopter accompanied by James Bond.

  25. 2047: 

    This is the first time that the Queen has officiated at the openings of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. She is welcomed by Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee.

    The Union flag is carried in by representatives of the armed forces. Applause ripples around the stadium as the flag is paraded round. Many Paralympians are drawn from service personnel.

  26. 2048: 

    The Union flag is raised to Benjamin Britten's 1951 arrangement of the national anthem performed by a 430-strong choir and a signing choir of 12 deaf people from London and Liverpool.

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Anne are also in attendance.

  27. 2053: 

    "Spirit in Motion" is the motto of the Paralympic Movement and here come the athletes from a record number of participating nations.

    164 countries are taking part in the Games, - 19 more than in Beijing. It should have been 166 but Malawi and Botswana have just pulled out.

    The athletes are entering to the sound of a global music mash up performed by local DJs Goldierocks, DJ Walde and DJ Excalibah.

  28. 2054: 

    Fourteen countries are competing in the Games for the first time. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Solomon Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Also Trinidad & Tobago are competing in their first Games since 1988.

  29. 2056: 

    Several teams, including Afghanistan, Tanzania, Cape Verde, Peru and Laos have just one athlete each. By far the biggest team is GB with 288 athletes followed by China, USA, Russia, Australia, France, Ukraine, Germany and Spain.

    As is tradition, the countries appear in alphabetical order apart from GB who as host nation will enter last.

  30. 2057: 

    GB sitting volleyball player Rob Richardson is missing the ceremony because the team have a match tomorrow. He said: "We as a squad made the decision as we knew we would be playing on the first day of the Games. Performance must come first but we are all here watching the ceremony together."

  31. 2058: 

    Interesting story about the man carrying Austria's flag - 59-year-old table tennis player Stanislaw Fraczyk. He has lived in Austria for 32 years and represented them in the Games although he has played for his native Poland at the Olympics.

  32. 2100: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    Finger on the Button blaring out and glow-stick wielding volunteers leading the crowd in applauding the athletes as they're led out by ball-gowned women in the national colours. With brollies emblazoned with the country's name -natch.

  33. 2102: 

    We move into the B's now with Bahrain, who are the 12th of nations in the parade.

  34. 2104: 

    The Belgian flagbearer has her guide dog on her lap as she comes into the Olympic Stadium. The dog is dressed for the part with a Belgian scarf wrapped around its neck.

  35. 2107: 

    Like the Athletes' Parade in the Olympic opening ceremony, many of the Paralympians have their cameraphones out snapping souvenir pictures of the occasion.

  36. 2109: 

    A big contingent from Brazil - they know that in four years' time it will be their turn to host the Games.

  37. 2112: 

    Legendary wheelchair rugby player Garett Hickling takes Canada's flag. The 41-year-old is competing in his fifth Paralympics, having won a medal on three of his previous four appearances.

  38. 2115: 
    Nick Hope, BBC Sport at the Olympic Stadium

    Loudest cheer or the night so far is for the Canadian team which I think just edged out that for the Aussies. Think the USA should overtake that before Great Britain literally brings the house down!

  39. 2113: 

    Flagbearer for China, the second biggest team at the Games, is wheelchair racer Zhang Lixin. He won four medals in his home Paralympics in Beijing four years ago and carried his country's flag at the closing ceremony.

  40. 2119: 

    Some facts and figures for you about the Paralympics: There are 4,200 athletes who are parading before the capacity crowd in the Olympic Stadium and 500 marshals working at the Games.

  41. 2120: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    It's a chilly evening in Stratford and many spectators are donning hats, scarfs and hoodies under suit jackets to keep warm.

    Local DJs Goldierocks, DJ Wade and DJ Excalibah are keeping people moving with their global music mash-up.

  42. 2121: 

    A solitary athlete for Paralympic debutants North Korea - 16-year-old swimmer Rim Ju Song. North Korea gained provisional membership of the International Paralympic Committee earlier this year, and Rim - who lost an arm and a leg in a construction accident - actually lives in Beijing and only learned to swim a few months ago.

  43. 2124: 

    Denmark, who are coming in now, have been in every Paralympic Games since the beginning - winning nearly 300 medals in that time.

  44. 2128: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    The Czech athletes in their shorts and bright blue wellies must be feeling the chill. One Danish athlete clearly isn't: he's grinning and grooving as he rolls his wheelchair around the track - in reverse.

  45. 2133: 

    Among the crowd tonight are a group of 750 children who were born on the 20th day of the 12th month of 2004 (20/12/04) and were registered with 'The Children's Promise'. A pledge was made to involve these 20/12 babies in events surrounding the Games.

    They are now seven years, eight months and 10 days old and also played in local evening celebrations during the Olympic torch relay.

  46.  

    GB Olympic bronze medallist boxer Anthony Ogogo tweets: "Never giving up when they've been told they couldn't do something. I'm mesmerised by their courage. #Paralympics the event of true warriors!"

  47. 2137: 

    The placards bearing each country's name during the parade were all written using the London Underground Font, with special permission from Transport for London.

  48.  

    Candian wheelchair basketball player Brandon Wagner tweets this picture: "We are in....so amazing words cannot describe...#proudparalympian"

  49. 2138: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    Allez les bleus! Big cheer for the French contingent. Nothing to do with the fact they're waving flags with the union jack on one side and the tricolor on the other. Crowd pleasers...

  50. 2141: 

    GB powerlifter Ali Jawad is another who is not at the opening ceremony and said: "Getting quite excited. I had to decide that performances were probably more important so I've decided not to go. If I get too excited I use a lot of energy."

  51.  
    Nick Hope, BBC Sport at the Olympic Stadium

    Big shout out to the volunteers dancing in the isles all around the stadium. With all due respect some of them are not exactly teenagers but they've been dancing with their glow-sticks & really been getting the crowd going for the last hour - respect!

  52.  

    GB Olympic diver Jack Laugher tweets: "So much respect for the Paralympians."

  53. 2146: 

    Ireland come in now and their flagbearer is cyclist Cathal Miller. The 43-year-old takes part in four events, two on the track and two on the road, and is competing in his second Paralympic Games after three top ten finishes in Beijing.

  54. 2148: 

    Discus thrower Tanto Campbell is carrying the flag for Jamaica's three-strong team. He also had the same honour at the 2006 World Championships.

  55. 2150: 

    Among the Italian team a few moments ago was former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi, who lost his legs in a crash in 2001. He will be returning to Brands Hatch to compete in the hand-cycling event.

  56.  

    Melissa Green writes: "I have just flown into Heathrow over the Olympic Stadium - it was a great view from the plane window! It was incredible to see all the flashbulbs going off and to see people taking photos from 10,000 feet up."

  57.  

    GB boccia player Scott McCowan is waiting to come into the Stadium and tweets: "Well I just got my picture taken with... you know... only OSCAR PISTORIUS!!! #kindofabigdeal."

  58.  

    The GB women's wheelchair basketball team are not attending the ceremony - but are watching it together as shown in a picture tweeted by player Louise Sugden who writes: "We might not be there but a great evening with the team."

  59. 2206: 

    The 100th country in the parade are Morocco - just 64 to go now.

  60.  

    Not too long to wait for the GB team now as seven-a-side footballer George Fletcher tweets a picture from outside the Stadium: "Nearly there!"

  61. 2219: 

    Russian field athlete Aleksey Ashapatov is at the head of his country's team. He won two gold medals in different sports in Beijing - one in the shot put and the other in the discus. He is reportedly nicknamed 'Elephant' because of his big size and kindness.

  62. 2220: 

    For the first time Rwanda, who are now in the Stadium, have a sitting volleyball team - set up by two athletes who both lost limbs fighting on opposing sides of the Hutu - Tutsi war in the 1990s.

  63.  

    GB wheelchair fencer Gemma Collis is determined to overcome the cold as she tweets: "It's freezing out here but I couldn't be more excited! Can't wait to get into the Stadium!"

  64. 2225: 

    Fresh from becoming the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics and reach a final, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is preparing to compete at the Paralympics by carrying his country's flag. The 25-year-old sprinter reached the semi-finals of the Olympic 400m before helping his team make the 4x400m relay final.

  65. 2235: 

    Waiting outside the stadium, GB sitting volleyball player Martine Wright, a victim of the 7/7 bombing in London, said she felt "absolute amazement". She said: "We have been walking up for the last half an hour and when I walk out in that stadium for the opening ceremony I will feel so proud."

  66. 2239: 

    BBC School Reporter Charlie, 13, who has aspirations to compete at Rio 2016 Paralympics is providing daily updates of what he thinks of the Games:

    He said: "Wow what a start! It has been an inspirational start to the 2012 Paralympic Games. I'm now really excited for the Games to begin.

    "The opening ceremony symbolises equality and fairness for everyone no matter what the impairment or difficulties. I've noticed a real variation between the countries not only in the number of competitors but also in the quality of the wheelchairs they are using. Everyone should have the same opportunities in equipment too."

  67.  

    Team GB's Christine Ohuruogu, who won 400m silver at the Olympics tweets: "Let the games begin! What a spectacular opening ceremony #ParalympicsGB"

  68. 2239: 

    One of the largest teams at these Games is now entering the Stadium - the Ukraine have more than 200 athletes competing here.

  69. 2241: 

    The 227-strong USA team are being led by Paralympian Scott Danberg. London is the 50-year-old discus thrower's fifth Games and he has also competed in powerlifting and javelin, in which he won a silver medal in Seoul.

  70. 2244: 
    Nick Hope, BBC Sport at the Olympic Stadium

    Great cheers for the US athletes as they enter the Olympic Stadium but the sad truth for swimmer Victoria Arlen is that this opening ceremony could be as close as she comes to the competing in the Paralympic Games. The 100m and 400m S6 world record holder has been ruled by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) not to have a disability which is severe enough to warrant a place in the Games - she will only learn if her appeal has been successful on Thursday.

  71. 2246: 
    BBC 2012KEY MOMENT- British team enter the stadium

    AND HERE COME THE PARALYMPICSGB TEAM!!

  72. 2248: 

    The man with the honour of carrying the flag for Great Britain is wheelchair tennis player Peter Norfolk. He is hoping to win his third successive Paralympic quad singles title, while four years ago in Beijing he also won bronze in the doubles with Jamie Burdekin.

    This is a first for the 'Quadfather', who has also won six Grand Slam singles titles in wheelchair tennis, as playing schedules have prevented him attending in the past.

  73. 2249: 

    The GB team are dressed in white kit with gold flashes on the shoulders and all the wheelchair athletes have union jacks on their wheels.

    They stop to acknowledge the Queen on their way past the Royal Box and Prince William and Kate stand up to applaud as they go by. Glitter is cascading through the air as David Bowie's Heroes rings out across the stadium.

  74. 2250: 

    This is Britain's biggest-ever Paralympics team, with 288 athletes selected.

    The target is to better the performance in Beijing, where Britain won 102 medals to finish second in the final table behind China. The swimmers won 44 of them (14 gold, 12 silver, 18 bronze) and 13-year-old Ellie Simmonds became GB's youngest individual gold medallist.

    The youngest member of the team this time is another 13-year-old swimmer, Chloe Davies.

  75.  

    GB javelin and discus thrower Nathan Stephens tweets: "Here we come. @ParalympicsGB the show has now begun, good luck to all competitors, this is our games, our time, let's bring home the medals."

  76. 2253: 

    Brilliant reaction from the crowd, most of whom seem to be on their feet and waving union jack flags of different sizes. The lights being shone on the crowd make them appear to be in blocks of red, white and blue.

  77. 2256: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    3G phone network jamming as much as David Bowie! Don't really need words to describe this though. ParalympicsGB's entrance has lifted the crowd and it suddenly doesn't feel as cold.

  78. 2257: 

    Now all the athletes are in place, blind soprano Denise Leigh sings a tribute to the athletes called 'Spirit in Motion'. The words are signed by deaf actor Deepa Shastri.

    It is a special composition by Errollyn Wallen with accompaniment by the London Symphony Orchestra.

  79. 2302: 

    "We salute you, for the years of dedication. Take my hand," sings Denise, her voice floating up into the night sky.

    Wow, follow that! Someone has to and it's London 2012 chair Sebastian Coe and the President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven.

  80. 2304: 

    Lord Coe says: "Today on behalf of every Briton and every lover of sport, it is my great honour to say 'welcome home' to the Paralympic Games."

  81. 2305: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    "Genuinely warm cheers for Lord Coe here as he welcomes the Paralympics home."

  82. 2309: 

    More from Lord Coe: "From the moment London began its bid to host the Games in 2012 we determined that we would raise the bar not just for the Olympics but for the Paralympics too.

    "Now we are ready, the people of Britain are ready and the athletes are ready.

    "And to those athletes I say you will hear us. The enthusiasm for these Paralympics is extraordinary and these will be Games to remember. And to my fellow countrymen and the millions watching round the world I add these final words - prepare to be inspired and dazzled and moved by the Paralympic Games of London 2012."

  83. 2310: 

    Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC: "Good evening and welcome to the start of the biggest Paralympic Games ever. Tonight is a celebration of the development of the human spirit, a celebration of the Paralympic movement coming home and of dreams becoming reality."

    He pays tribute to the Games' beginnings at Stoke Mandeville in 1948, before hailing the London 2012 bid team, volunteers and the Olympic Games.

    Sir Philip - a former wheelchair athlete - welcomes the 4,200 Paralympians and says their performances will inspire the world for generations to come. He ends: "Make sure you have fun".

  84. 2313: 
    BBC 2012KEY MOMENT- Queen declares Games open

    Fireworks explode as the Queen declares the London 2012 Paralympic Games open.

  85. 2314: 

    Eight members of the Great Britain under 22 Wheelchair Basketball team enter the stadium carrying the Paralympic flag which will be raised by members of the armed forces.

    The three-part crescent symbol on the Paralympic flag is called the "agitos" - meaning "I move" in Latin.

  86. 2317: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    Ripples of respectful applause as strains of I Vow to Thee My Country - set to Gustav Holst's Planet Suite, Jupiter - play out and the flagbearers pass the as yet unlit cauldron.

  87. 2319: 

    The flag is raised to the Paralympic anthem: Hymn de l'Avenir - Hymn to the Future.

  88. 2321: 

    The Paralympic oaths are pledged by representatives of the athletes, officials and coaches. The athlete is Liz Johnson who is a 2008 Paralympic swimming gold medallist. She is followed by Richard Allcroft Wheelchair Rugby technical delegate and judge, and David Hunter who is a Paralympic equestrian coach.

  89. 2323: 

    And now we're back with Miranda and Prospero in a section entitled Brave New World. It starts in a stadium-sized library and here again is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which we saw at the start of the ceremony.

    The milestone document was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and has as its first article: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

  90. 2325: 

    The music in this section is Handel's "Eternal Source of Light Divine" and is performed by Welsh Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and London Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Phil Cobb.

  91. 2326: 

    While Elin sings, night turns to day in the Olympic Stadium. The overhead structure which started life as a giant umbrella splits into seven fragments.

  92. 2327: 

    Six Paralympians bathed in gold take to the sky on wires; among them one of Britain's best loved athletes Tanni Grey-Thompson. She is joined by swimmer Mark Woods, judoka Ian Rose, javelin thrower Tony Griffin, wheelchair tennis player Kay Forshaw and athlete Robert Barrett.

    The crowd are loving this magical moment.

  93. 2330: 

    Miranda speaks Shakespeare's line: "Oh wonder, how many goodly creatures are there here, how beautous mankind is. Oh brave new world that has such people in it." and sets sail on an umbrella boat.

    We hear from Stephen Hawking again: "There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe, and what can be more special than that there is no boundary. And there should be no boundary to human endeavour."

  94. 2331: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 in the Olympic Stadium

    Oh the multi-talented British brolly. Now it's a boat taking Miranda on a voyage of discovery...

  95. 2333: 

    This section is a tribute to navigation and the scientific instruments used for it, among them an orrery which shows the positions of the planets.

  96. 2333: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 in the Olympic Stadium

    The parlaympixels are being put to full effect creating a seascape atmosphere here. Not to mention the giant hovering whale.

  97. 2334: 

    A tempest blows up, with whirling dirvish Ziya Azazi at the eye of the storm, complete with fiery cape.

  98. 2335: 

    As the storm dies down, young singer Birdy performs Bird Gerhl, by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons fame.

    Dancer David Toole peforms a dance which sees him soar above the stadium while Birdy sings and plays piano.

  99.  

    Oscar Pistorius tweets: "IM AT THE PARALYMPICS YO BEAUTY!! What a vibe!! Feels amazing to be here and part of something this special!!"

  100. 2340: 

    GB Paralympic swimmer Liz Johnson, who read out the Paralympic Oath, said: "I think I was told on the Thursday before we got here. I only told two people so think there will be a lot of people who will be surprised by that. The roar always hits you at the opening ceremony but the amount of union jacks was absolutely amazing."

  101. 2340: 
    Nick Hope, BBC Sport

    Sometimes you have to stop everything that you are doing, watch and absorb the moment, this is one of those moments - breathtakingly beautiful performance as the Paralympic opening ceremony nears its conclusion

  102. 2341: 

    Miranda is in the middle of a maze in a garden, possibly Sir Isaac Newton's.

  103. 2342: 

    Now a massive golden apple drops from above and we enter a world of gravitational choreography played out by dancers, jugglers, skaters, tandem riders and performers with wheelbarrows containing giant helium-filled apples that rise up to create an orbit of planetary objects. The riders on the back of each tandem are visually impaired volunteer performers.

  104. 2342: 

    And surely this must be a record - Miranda bites into an apple she finds in the middle of the maze and every spectator in the Stadium hopefully does the same thing at the same time.

    They were given an apple on arrival at the Stadium some four or more hours ago - let's hope that hunger has not got the better of too many of them at this late hour.

    Does anyone know what is the record for people involved in simultaneous apple munching?

  105. 2343: 

    What an extraordinary noise that was!

    Now huge apples fly over the middle of the stadium and dancers in green costumes dance while others performers throw the huge fruits to one another.

  106. 2346: 

    Ian McKellen looks up at the celestial sphere which has floated above the stadium for the entire ceremony and speaks Prospero's words: "I find my zenith doth depend on a most auspicious star."

  107. 2346: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 at the Olympic Stadium

    The communal bite was impressive! Minor panic in the crowd there as spectators patted pockets trying to find their apples for the big crunch.

  108. 2348: 
    Michael Hirst, BBC 2012 in the Olympic Stadium

    And now we're all merrily enjoying an early midnight snack as Miranda's journey continues.

  109. 2349: 

    Miranda and Prospero set off on "our greatest adventure [which] still lies ahead" and we're back in 2012 with the Stadium turned into the Large Hadron Collider at Cern to the words of Stephen Hawking. This section is called Collision and Orbital are providing the soundtrack.

  110. 2350: 
    Nick Hope, BBC Sport in the Olympic Stadium

    Sometimes you have to stop everything that you are doing, watch and absorb the moment, this is one of those moments - breathtakingly beautiful performance as the Paralympic opening ceremony nears its conclusion.

  111. 2351: 

    Now it's the late Ian Dury's protest anthem Spasticus Autisticus which addresses disability issues head on. It's performed by Graeae Theatre Company.

  112.  

    GB sitting volleyball player Justin Phillips tweets: "Thank you London. So SO proud to be disabled tonight. And ten years ago I never thought I would say that."

  113. 2353: 

    Continuing the disability rights and pride theme, here is a giant reproduction of Marc Quinn's celebrated scultpture Alison Lapper Pregnant. Miranda is told to "break through the glass ceiling and set us all free".

  114.  

    Team GB Olympic swimmer Liam Tancock tweets: "I dont fancy being the one to clear up 62,000 apple cores!"

  115. 2356: 

    Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend is revealed with the torch at the top of the Orbit tower which is next to the Stadium. He takes off on a zip wire and sails down into the stadium.

    He hopes to become a Paralympic triathlete at Rio 2016.

  116. 2358: 
    BBC 2012KEY MOMENT- Paralympic flame arrives in the stadium

    The Paralympic flame touches down in the Olympic Stadium in the hands of Joe Townsend

  117. 2359: 

    Joe hands the flame to blind five-a-side footballer David Clarke, who crosses the stage with a helper. David is the longest-serving member of the team.

  118. 0000: 
    BBC 2012KEY MOMENT- Paralympic cauldron lit

    And David passes the flame to Britain's first ever Paralympic gold medal winner Margaret Maughan.

    She takes the flame to huge applause and she lights the same cauldron which was used for the Olympics.

  119. 0002: 

    As the Paralympic cauldron burns brightly, Beverley Knight takes to the stage to perform the classic anthem of liberation: "I Am What I Am" from the musical La Cage aux Folles.

  120. 0005: 

    Fireworks erupt from the stadium and around the Olympic Park as the music builds to a crescendo and all the 3,250 ceremony performers take part in the finale.

  121.  

    London 2012 ‏tweets: "The whole Olympic Stadium audience are signing the lyrics 'I am somebody, I am what I am' #OpeningCeremony"

  122. 0015: 

    Thank you for your company tonight.

    The opening ceremony heralds the start of 11 days of sporting action. You can follow the Paralympics on TV with Channel Four, on radio with BBC 5 live and online at www.bbc.co.uk/sport and of course here at www.bbc.co.uk/2012

    This is Christine Jeavans and Ian Westbrook signing off.

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