Danny Boyle's "bloody brilliant" opening ceremony has been hailed as a triumph.

The event, which featured a diverse cast including James Bond star Daniel Craig and JK Rowling, merged music , dance and special effects into a spectacular opening.

Designer Wayne Hemingway said it was an "amazing" ceremony. The Morecambe-born founder of Red or Dead said: "It just makes me so proud. Watching it made me proud to be a Lancastrian. Danny Boyle is from just down the road to me and so much of my life was in this, everything I believe in, the history from the industrial revolution right through to the NHS."

Saturday night's worldwide audience was treated to a greatest hits medley of British pop over the decades with bursts of the Beatles, the Jam, Sex Pistols and Dizzee Rascal. There were also excerpts from the Kinks, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Mud's Tiger Feet before Emile Sande sang the cup final classic Abide With Me.

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg agreed, tweeting: "Impressive though £openingceremony in Beijing was, they didn't have any great pop music to play, did they?"

Not everyone was so enthusiastic. Art critic Brian Sewell said he would not watch the show. Speaking before the ceremony, he said: "I was not planning to watch it but then the 10 O'Clock News ran a snippet of it which merely reinforced my plan not to watch it."

Novelist and journalist Tony Parsons was more positive, saying: "Sneering at the Olympics is like sneering at Christmas. Do you want to be with Danny Boyle or Mitt Romney? Time to stop synchronised moaning."

Wallander star Kenneth Branagh featured as the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, reading from Shakespeare's The Tempest in the historical section.

Historian Tom Holland tweeted: "Shakespeare. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Nimrod. Lots of Victorians in top hats. The industrial revolution. If only sport was always like this."

Edwin Page, the author of Ordinary Heroes: The Films Of Danny Boyle, said the ceremony showed the filmmaker's trademark cinematic flair. He said it was a "beautifully orchestrated tribute to the British people".