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London closes the 2012 Olympic Games with a hootenanny of local flavor

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

LONDON – Monty Python star Eric Idle shocked television executives at NBC but delighted the Olympic Stadium crowd by uttering a cuss word during his performance at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Games on Sunday.

Idle's rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," from the iconic Monty Python movie "Life of Brian" was one of the most popular segments of the $40 million spectacular that drew 17 days of sporting festivities in London to a close.

However, NBC chiefs were originally left with a decision on whether or not to censor Idle's utterance for its delayed network telecast, after it was heard on its live internet stream.

"Not sure yet,” was the response of an NBC employee based in London when messaged by Yahoo! Sports asking if NBC would alter the primetime telecast. "Difficult one."

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"Life's a piece of [expletive], when you look at it," Idle sung, keeping with the correct wording of the tune, although clearly a surprise to many in the stadium.

By the time Idle's words reached the American audience, NBC made the decision to censor the expletive.

"I thought about that line when he came on," said excited spectator Johnny Gill of London. "I'm glad he said it. Why change it? It was the best act of the night."

NBC has been criticized during these Olympics for a series of embarrassing incidents. Viewers were disappointed at television coverage routinely being of taped events rather than live action. Thanks to the huge increase in the use of social media, viewers found it harder than ever to avoid the actual result before it aired on television.

That process was not helped by NBC itself when the network aired a promotion about Missy Franklin winning her first gold medal before airing Franklin actually winning said medal.

Sunday's closing extravaganza featured a concert showcasing Britain's musical strength, past and present, with performances from the likes of the Spice Girls, George Michael, The Who and Queen, plus many others.

[ Photos: The Closing Ceremony of the London Games ]

The cameras also missed some touching moments. The Spice Girls had to dash to get into the black taxis that drove them onto the stage as they lingered behind the scene admiring the Olympic trading pins of several volunteers.

Queen's Brian May talked about welling up with tears when footage of the band's former frontman Freddie Mercury appeared on the giant screen.

On the field, members of the Ethiopian team led a group of competitors from more than 10 countries in a giant conga line.

Following the handover of the Olympic spirit to the city of Rio, the 2016 Games host, organizing committee head Lord Coe was triumphant.

"Today features the closing of a wonderful Games in a wonderful city," he said. "We lit the flame, and we lit up the world. For the third time, we were granted the trust of the Olympic movement. Once again we have shown ourselves worthy of that trust. London, we did it right."

Few would argue with that.

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