As expected, Danny Boyle’s Olympics Opening Ceremony was a big ratings hit for the BBC last night, handily outperforming any other Games curtain-raiser in recent memory. The program captured an average 22.4M viewers and an 82.5% audience share. The average rating is the highest for the channel since 1998. Athens’ 2004 Opening Ceremony scored an average audience of 8.7M for a 41% share in primetime while the lauded Beijing opener in 2008 had a 51% share, but only 5.1M average viewers given it aired in the middle of the UK day. Last night’s opener began at 9pm local time and peaked for 5 minutes at 9:45pm with 26.9M tuning in to see Boyle’s Isles Of Wonder which featured a parachuting Queen, flying Mary Poppinses, a Mr Bean/Chariots Of Fire montage and a performance by Paul McCartney. The BBC’s most recent comparable 5-minute peak was 23.2M viewers during the England v Italy Euro 2012 match in June. Online viewing was 1M+, the BBC said.