Danny Boyle’s near-universally acclaimed opening ceremony scored the biggest UK TV ratings in 14 years; James Bond, Chariots Of Fire, The Queen feature in opening ceremony.

The London 2012 Olympics opened in spectacular fashion with a peak audience of more than 27m viewers – the biggest TV ratings in 14 years in the UK.

The feverishly anticipated Danny Boyle extravaganza was broadcast live from the Olympic Stadium and gave BBC1 one of the biggest audiences in UK television history, according to overnight Barb figures supplied by Attentional.

Beyond UK borders, some commentators have predicted that the global audience for the launch of the London Games will reach into the billions.

BBC1’s coverage got underway at 5pm with Sophie Raworth fronting hour-long show London 2012: Countdown to the Olympics, which averaged 1.85m (15.52%) viewers before breaking for the News at Six.

The action resumed after the news and weather with BBC1 wheeling out its presenting big guns - including Sue Barker and Huw Edwards - to capture the mood of the nation and look ahead to an exciting 17 days of sport.

Olympics 2012: Opening Ceremony Countdown averaged 10.07m (44.83%) from 7pm to 9pm as organisers prepared to lift the curtain on Boyle’s festivities and the athletes readied themselves to enter the arena for the first time.

Some 22.89m (76.95%) viewers were settled in at 9pm for the Olympics 2012: Opening Ceremony, but it was not until 9.50pm that the coverage hit a five-minute high of 26.89m (81.6%).

A further 113k (0.34%) were also watching 3D coverage on BBC HD at this point - around the time Rowan Atkinson put in a magnificent turn as Mr Bean playing Chariots of Fire.

This gave the opening ceremony a total peak audience of 27.02m and an incredible 81.94% share of the viewing population.

It was the easily biggest audience of the year to date, eclipsing the high of 23.16m (77.4%) that watched England crash out of Euro 2012 on penalties to Italy in June.

Other notable ratings highs this year have included the Diamond Jubilee Concert, which attracted a peak of 17.09m (65.71%), and the audience of 16.92m (67.89%) that saw Andy Murray lose in the Wimbledon final.

Significantly, it also topped the royal wedding last year, which tied the knot with a combined five-minute peak of 26.17m (93.24%) viewers.

The performance puts it in the top ten highest rated shows of all time, nudging ahead of the 26.93m viewers that saw Alan Bradley killed by tram in a 1989 episode of Coronation Street.

At the very least, it was the biggest TV audience in 14 years and the largest number of viewers for BBC1 in 16 years.

Opening ceremony averages

Overall, the opening ceremony averaged an audience of 23m (82.69%) from 9pm to 12.52am, while the 3D simulcast drew 111k (0.39%) from 8.50pm to 12.52am on BBC HD.

Furthermore, the BBC has confirmed that an additional 1m people watched the festivities online, taking the average to well over 24m.

It easily beat the previous high set by the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, which pulled in a crowd of 11.3m.

Beijing’s opener drew 5.1m in 2008, while the 2004 Games in Athens launched with an audience of 8.7m.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: “Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was an absolute triumph. I am very proud of the two BBC drama films that formed part of the ceremony.

“The audience response to the film featuring the Queen and James Bond was one of my highlights.”

This story was originally published by Broadcast..