Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch Welcomes the World to the London Olympics

NBC scored the highest ratings ever for an Olympics opening ceremony held outside the US, with 40.7 million people tuning in last night to watch Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s beautiful and occasionally mad love letter to Great Britain.  It featured fireworks, Kenneth Branagh, the NHS, the Queen joining forces with James Bond, adorable corgis, epic sets, a hundred-foot tall version of Lord Voldemort, Rowan Atkinson playing piano, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reading everyone a bed time story, David Beckham on a speedboat, the guy who invented the internet live tweeting from the stage, and Sir Paul McCartney leading the world in a singalong of Hey, JudeYeah, it was pretty awesome.  

But a couple of the best bits from the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies never made it to air in America, including the fantastic kickoff to the BBC’s television coverage introduced and narrated by none other than Sherlock Holmes himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.  The Sherlock star gave the world an introduction to London and a welcome to the 2012 Summer Games, and provided the sort of superquick history reminder that might have helped some Americans catch more of the many historical, literary and cultural references that  were jam-packed into Boyle’s opening. 

Click through for a look at Cumberbatch’s opening introduction for yourself, as well a memorial dance tribute, and a little snippet that might be of particular interest to Doctor Who fans.

What an honor for Mr. Cumberbatch, really.  To be honest, it also made me feel a tiny bit better that at least we got some variation of Sherlock Holmes doing the Olympics intro, since there was no sign of Holmes anywhere else in the opening pageant.

Sadly, I can’t seem to get an embed of this second bit to work – but there was also a beautiful segment in which Scottish singer Emeli Sande performed “Abide with Me” to a choreographed dance in front o f a setting sun. This interlude was widely interpreted as a memorial and tribute to the loved ones lost by those in the stadium, including those that died in the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London in 2005. You can watch a clip of this segment here. It’s quite lovely, and it’s really a shame it was edited out of the American airing.

And, finally, here’s a bonus tidbit for the Doctor Who fans out there, who might not have caught this blink-and-you’ll-miss it moment last night. Listen carefully in this clip and you might hear a familiar vworp-ing sound in the background of Bohemian Rhapsody. (Granted, I do wish we could have seen David Tennant show up in a nod to the series’ Olympics-themed ep from a few years ago, but, oh, well.)

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