2012 Olympics: American audiences get to see London opening ceremony

Chris Hoy of the Great Britain Olympic cycling team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012, in London. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) The London Olympics is officially under way after a nearly four- hour opening ceremony complete with James Bond, the Beatles and the queen. But Americans are just now getting to watch the spectacle.

NBC is taking heat for not streaming the Olympics opening ceremony online, and instead holding it for the network's delayed telecast Friday.

The $42 million show, orchestrated by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, used trickery to make it seem that Britain's beloved 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II had parachuted into the stadium with the nation's most famous spy.

A short film showed 007 driving up to Buckingham Palace in a black London cab and, pursued by her majesty's royal dogs - Monty, Willow and Holly, playing themselves - meeting the queen, who played herself.

"Good evening, Mr. Bond," she said.

They were shown flying in a helicopter over London landmarks and a waving statue of Winston Churchill - the queen in a salmon-colored gown, Bond dashing as ever in a black tuxedo - to the stadium and then leaping out into the inky night.

At the same moment, real skydivers appeared in the skies over the stadium throbbing to the James Bond soundtrack. And moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.

Organizers said it was thought to be the first time the monarch has acted on film.

"The queen made herself more accessible than ever before," Boyle said.

In the stadium, Elizabeth stood solemnly while a children's choir serenaded her with "God Save the Queen," and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.

Boyle sprang a giant surprise and picked seven teenage athletes for the supreme honor of igniting the Olympic cauldron. Together, they touched flaming torches to trumpet-like tubes that spread into a ring of fire.

The flames rose skyward and joined elegantly together to form the cauldron. Fireworks erupted over the stadium to music from Pink Floyd. With a singalong of "Hey Jude," Beatle Paul McCartney closed a show that ran 45 minutes beyond its scheduled three hours.

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