From giant apples to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all presided over by Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellen in a spangly trench coat – we Brits certainly know how to throw a party. After a much-celebrated opening gambit from Danny Boyle, co-directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings provided a magnificent history of science for the average 7.7 million Paralympic Opening Ceremony television viewers across the UK.
But whilst the spectacle itself landed praise across the front pages of this morning’s newspapers, broadcaster Channel 4 were on the receiving end of a wave of abuse from the Twitterati, largely for their ill-placed ad breaks and off-beat commentary….
Philip Schofield (@schofe) hazarded the suggestion, “Loving the spectacle of the Paralympics, but it sits a bit awkwardly with ads, or is that just me?”
No, Philip, you are not alone. Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans (@achrisevans) also took to Twitter to vent his frustration.
“Nice: sell cars off the back off (sic) the national anthem. How patriotic. We’ll be right back to the opening ceremony after these messages.”
“Thandie Newton and L’Oreal’s age-defying cream really putting things into perspective, there. #C4paralympics”
But it’s @scottm who comes up with a rather brilliant idea:
“It would please me enormously if @C4Paralympics donated every penny of its ad break income to charities helping disabled people”
You know the level of abuse has hit fever pitch when Channel 4 decides to hit back at its Twitter critics, but sadly this response is unlikely to elicit much goodwill amongst angry viewers…
@C4Insider: “If you’re asking about ads, we’re showing less than usual but as a commercially funded bcaster they allow us to show events like the Paras.”
Moving on to commentary, the broadcaster hauled news anchor Jon Snow into the studio to front its coverage, but the 64-year-old seemed a little befuddled by the programme he was presenting. Cue a barrage of civil war statistics and political insight leaving viewers with a current affairs-induced headache.
In the build up to the Paralympics, British politics has been suspiciously devoid of high-profile gaffes. Boris hasn’t launched himself across a zip wire and Jeremy Hunt has been steering well clear of all bell-like objects. Alas, a national event wouldn’t sit right with the viewing public without a major hoo-ha from a governmental figure. Luckily former Tory minister @Edwina_Currie has stepped up to the plate with:
“Italians are gorgeous even in wheelchairs. Love ’em”
Unfortunately for Mrs Currie, her patronising remark prompted a torrent of abuse which she spent much of the evening attempting to field.
Her Maj may have kept a stern expression for much of the evening, but that did not stop her unofficial Twitter account (@Queen_UK) supplying her 900,000 followers with a constant stream of humorous remarks, including a witty reference to Prince Harry’s mysterious absence from the royal enclosure.
“Can’t understand why Prince Harry isn’t here. One gave him the date and he said he had nothing on. #c4paralympics”
And finally, for those who enjoyed last night’s festivities, you were in good company as fans and athletes alike took to Twitter to express their sentiments.
Groundbreaking double-amputee @OscarPistorious – who recently became the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics – carried South Africa’s flag into the stadium before tweeting,
“Such a spectacular evening at the London #Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony! What an honour it was to carry my flag!”
While comedian @jimmycarr praised the flamboyantly dressed Mexican athletes…
“So far @paralympics opening ceremony the biggest cheer went to the Irish team & the best dressed were the Mexican, who’s not loving a poncho”
And @southbankcentre referenced the playwright who inspired both the Paralympic and Olympic ceremonies:
“‘How beauteous mankind is.’ Shakespeare sums it up rather well doesn’t he? What a beautiful dreamlike scene #openingceremony”
But it’s Britain’s ability to celebrate in style that will leave a lasting impression on worldwide viewers, as pointed out by @mrdaveturner:
“The population of Britain should roam the world, taking it in turns to ceremoniously open stuff #c4paralympics”