TEACAKES, Rod Stewart, Subo, the Forth Bridge and a gay kiss – the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games aimed to sum up Scotland for the world.
The extravaganza at Glasgow’s Celtic Park, involving a cast of 2000, was designed as a warm, Scottish welcome, full of humour, music and energy.
An audience of around 40,000 and an estimated one billion global viewers watched as competitors from 71 nations and territories paraded on the eve of the competition, with the biggest cheers reserved for Team Scotland.
The spectacle marked the official start of the 20th Games as the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth, received the ceremonial baton and read out a message of good wishes to the 4500 athletes and officials taking part.
The two-and-a-half hour show was a celebration of all things Scottish, with some of the cast dressed as Tunnock’s teacakes and a large-scale model of the Forth Bridge supported by cans of Irn Bru. Entertainer John Barrowman kicked off proceedings with Karen Dunbar, from comedy show Chewin’ The Fat, in a quirky tour of Scotland taking in Edinburgh Castle, the Loch Ness Monster and Glasgow’s Finnieston Crane. Barrowman kissed a male cast member at a mock Gretna Green as part of the colourful show.
Glasgow singer Amy Macdonald joined rocker Rod Stewart for a rendition of his hit Rhythm Of My Heart, while Susan Boyle sang Mull Of Kintyre.
Declaring the Games open, the Queen said: “The baton has arrived here in Glasgow, a city renowned for its dynamic cultural and sporting achievements and for the warmth of its people, for this opening ceremony of the Friendly Games.
“To you, the Commonwealth athletes, I send my good wishes for success in your endeavours. Your accomplishments over the coming days will encourage us all to strengthen the bonds that unite us.”
There were huge cheers for the parading teams – and the jacketed Scottie dogs which were led out in front of each group.
The Saltire was held aloft by Edinburgh judo star Euan Burton.
He said: “It was a phenomenal reception when we entered the stadium. It’s a windy evening and the flag is fluttering high.
“I’m so proud to be leading the team.
“It’s my first Commonwealth Games and there’s no better place for a Scotsman to be.”
There was a brief moment of embarrassment when the baton containing the Queen’s message refused to open for Prince Imran of Malaysia, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
But Sir Chris Hoy, who was given the honour of delivering the baton to the royal box, came to the rescue.
Sir Chris joined Scottish actors Ewan McGregor, who was on screen, and James McAvoy in an unprecedented appeal for donations to Unicef’s Children of the Commonwealth Fund.
The charity said last night that initial figures showed that more than £2.5 million had already been raised to help young people across the nations.
The event, seven years in the planning, was brought to a close with a spectacular fireworks display at the stadium and across Glasgow.