The spectacular opening ceremony of the London Games, featuring Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, the Queen and James Bond, is well under way.
the Queen and James Bond
de France winner Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins, wearing a yellow jersey, rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world to launch the show.
There were loud cheers as the crowd saw a film featuring an unlikely meeting between the Queen and the 007 agent.
the Queen and the 007 agent
The three-hour spectacle, capturing the best of Britain, is set to be viewed by a TV audience of one billion people.
The athletes taking part in the Games - led, as tradition dictates, by the Olympics' spiritual home Greece
the Olympics' spiritual home Greece
- are now making laps of the stadium bearing their nations' flags.
Team GB will do its walk-about last.
There were huge cheers for the Irish team and for Usain Bolt, carrying the flag for Jamaica.
At the beginning of the show iconic images of London and Britain were beamed to the world, and all four countries of the UK were represented in song.
the stadium in Stratford in east London
The field at the stadium in Stratford in east London was turned into a green meadow, with a cast of 10,000 volunteers taking roles from British history.
The show took the watching world through "great revolutions in British society", from an agricultural setting through to the Industrial Revolution.
transformed into golden Olympic rings
Steelworkers began forging material that transformed into golden Olympic rings, which lifted into the air to be suspended above the performers.
The film featuring the encounter between Bond and the monarch at Buckingham Palace prompted much laughter and cheers.
the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter
"Good evening Mr Bond,"
the Queen said in the clip, before they left together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter.
A helicopter then flew over the stadium to the sound of the Bond theme tune, as two figures parachuted down, one dressed as the monarch.
As if by magic, the Queen appeared in the stands - part of a crowd of about 80,000 - amid cheers.
"It was quite quiet among the crowd, after the excitement of a sky-diving Queen. But Bowie, Queen (as in the band!) and New Order fit the sparkle of the stadium and lift the mood."
The ceremony also celebrated the National Health Service by featuring a cast of 1,200 volunteers recruited from hospitals all over the country, including Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London.
A Red Arrows fly-past marked
A Red Arrows fly-past marked the start of the pre-show at the symbolic time of 20:12 BST (19:12 GMT).
As the show, said to be a quirky take on British life, began, its artistic director Danny Boyle pledged a ceremony with a theme of "this is for everyone".
The Oscar-winning film director added that it contains "a celebration of the creativity, exuberance and, above all, the generosity of the British people". He said there were to be "no spectators - everyone in the stadium will be part of the magic".
He later tweeted: "Thank you, everyone, for your kind words! Means the world to me."
Crowds of people, many of them dressed up in their nation's colours, are at the Olympic Park for the show.
Our correspondent says transport to the stadium appears to have run smoothly and the crowds moved quickly through security.
Rain started to fall over the stadium earlier, despite forecasters predicting dry weather ahead of the ceremony.
The day of celebration began at 08:12 BST (07:12 GMT) with a mass bell ringing. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI's funeral in 1952.