London 2012: When and What to Watch for the Olympics Opening Ceremony

london 2012 olympics logo

The long awaited Olympic opening ceremonies have arrived, and the world will be watching as Oscar winner Danny Boyle delivers what is expected to be an over-the-top spectacle.

But for those of us stateside, who were not fortunate enough to jet off to London for the celebration, what time should we tune in (or set the DVR)? What can we expect to see? THR’s The Live Feed breaks down the need-to-know information about Friday night’s telecast.

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1.     NBC will begin airing the opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m. ET and PT in the U.S., and it will run until midnight. 

2.     Though Boyle has remained tight-lipped about who will light the cauldron with the Olympic flame, it has been widely speculated that Queen Elizabeth II will officially open the ceremony, while Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry are also expected to be in attendance.

3.     Sir Paul McCartney will perform a song for the show’s finale, but no word yet on whether he will play an original composition or one of his countless hits. Music will play a major role in the event, with acts from electronic music maestros Underworld, as well.

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4.     Named Isles of Wonder, Boyle’s ceremony takes a cue from Shakepseare’s The Tempest and will transform Olympic Stadium into the charming English countryside. The show is expected to feature several young children in addition to 12 horses, 10 chickens, nine geese and 70 sheep, as well as models of Glastonbury Hill, the Thames, Whitechapel and more. According to the AP, Boyle plans to use images and characters from popular British culture, including Alice in Wonderland, James Bond and Harry Potter.

5.     The UK government expects more than a hundred heads of state and government “to play a part in the Olympic Games.” Among them: U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and members of the royal families of Brunei, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

6.     U.S. networks, most notably NBC, will tout their new programming slates during the broadcast with a slew of TV-related ads. President Obama and Republican hopeful Romney have also both purchased ad time during the ceremony as part of their campaigns.

7.     NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas will take the International Olympic Committee to task during the show for denying Israel’s request for a moment of silence during the Opening Ceremony, which would commemorate the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 of the country’s athletes at the 1972 Munich Games. Said EP Jim Bell, “I think if there is anybody who knows how to handle himself in that situation, and have the right approach and tone, it's Bob and Matt [Lauer], who we're confident will be there."

For THR's complete Olympics 2012 Coverage, click here.