I'm one of the few people I know who found the opening ceremonies to be thoroughly enjoyable. Some of that owes to the fact that I am something of a Neo-Victorian. There's a lot to that but I'll leave it for another day.
The Chinese on the one hand orchestrated a mass of performers to master a single skill and aggregate them into synchopated rhythm. The British on the other hand put together a series of vignettes chronicling history which involved a wide variety of characters performing different roles to create. To watch the Chinese ceremony is to witness 1000 drummers drumming & dancing in uniform. To watch the British ceremony is to witness 1000 people in 50 different groups with 50 improvisations off 50 drummers in 50 different costumes. I admire the British complexity, and I am put off by the Chinese uniformity.
Consider the possibility of something going wrong. Imagine that one of the parade of Chinese drummers gets violently ill in the middle of the ceremony. Your eye would immediately pick him out of the crowd as his spot on the grid went awry. And you would know deep in your heart that his failure would mar the entire act, and that he would face endless shame, humiliation and even punishment for being the puzzle piece that fell out.
Now consider that same violent illness attacking one of the Mary Poppins clones, or one of the factory workers in the British illustrations. The entire affair would procede without most people noticing at all. It is that kind of robust and multivariate performance that allowed the British to even choreography sheep into the ceremony.
In short, the British allowed people to be people and sheep to be sheep.