Love at first sight

Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremony attracted a huge world-wide audience and record TV figures in the UK
Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremony attracted a huge world-wide audience and record TV figures in the UK
Cheryl was lucky enough to sit next to 1980s pop star Sinitta, pictured here at a previous event   Picture: PA

CHERYL GIBBS: An embarrassing moment at a celebrity shindig with Sinitta

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Twenty million Brits were still watching at midnight as Danny Boyle’s brilliantly-original Olympic Opening Ceremony moved towards its climax.

Any TV boss will tell you that programmes in that graveyard slot (remember The Epilogue) usually play to insomniacs, two men and a dog.

So the astonishing TV rating is proof, if it were needed, that Britain has fallen instantly in love with this Olympics.

Boyle’s spectacular curtain-raiser was slick, cool, funny, touching, emotional and inspiring.

And it did make you proud to be British.

You can just imagine him ringing the Queen and saying: ‘Your Majesty, I’ve got this idea about you and James Bond...’.

Olympic fever has half the nation glued to sports which barely get a mention at any other time – swimming, gymnastics, equestrian, rowing, and, even, beach volleyball.

Social lives are being organised around backstroke finals, hockey matches and the exploits of the coxless four at Eton Dorney.

Robin van Persie and John Terry have been knocked off the back pages by Lizzie Armitstead, Ryan Lochte and Dai Greene.

Passion for the sporting party was evident again when I joined the hundreds of thousands lining the streets of London and Surrey for the cycling road races.

Most of the spectators would not have known Mark Cavendish if he walked in to their living room, but they were lined up four deep on the grass verges.

They knew nothing of the tactics or how the race was developing.

But this was a happening. A chance to be in on a slice of sporting history. A free ticket for the Olympics.

These are the people who should be filling the worrying number of empty seats at some venues.

Explanations about these being originally allocated to the ‘Olympic family’ don’t really wash.

The London organisers should have ensured that each and every person who applied for a ticket got at least one.

It is not too late to re-sell some or offer some pay-at-the gate entries.

The Olympics belong to the people of this country and the empty seats are a scandal when so many ticket applicants were left desperately empty-handed.

It is why the Games so far scores nine and not 10 out of 10.