Live from the iPad launch in London

LIVE FROM THE APPLE STORE, REGENT STREET, LONDON

An A-level student from Essex has become the first UK punter to buy an iPad at Apple's flagship UK store... after an epic 20-hour wait.

Jake Lee, 17, of Theydon Bois in Essex smiled for the mob of press cameras and dutifully obeyed instructions to jump for joy at his new purchase.

Minutes earlier, Lee had been waiting patiently outside the Regent Street premises as the sounds of clapping and cheers from hundreds of blue T-shirted Apple employees ramped up the hype for the eight o'clock launch.

Friends Joe Woodcock and John Maasdorp, also from Essex, had no plans to purchase the latest Apple gizmo themselves, but seemed more than happy to come along for the ride. They were waiting along with hundreds of Apple devotees who queued round the block when barriers were erected two hours before the deadline.

"We've been best mates for ages," said Woodcock, "so if he came down, we didn't want him to spend the night on his own."

"I'm tired, but I'm very excited," Jake told reporters.

Like most of the other punters THINQ talked to in the line, Lee planned to nab himself Apple's top-of-the-range 64GB model with WiFi - available over the counter for the first time this morning for a princely £699.

At a minute to eight, the curtains covering the store windows came down. One last-minute attack of nerves - "I hope my card works after all this" - and a trendily-coiffured Lee disappeared among the throng of whooping Apple minions, thumbs aloft, to chants of "Jake! Jake! Jake!".

Despite the hullabaloo, the iPad launch was a tame affair by Apple standards. Fanboy-in-chief Stephen Fry made an appearance, bleary-eyed but dapper in a corduroy jacket. Towering above the crowd were also the world's tallest couple in full wedding garb.

All the same, the iPhone launch it wasn't. One customer we talked to, Hari, 42, from India, said he'd turned up on spec. So ubiquitous has been the hype around the Apple tablet, he hadn't realised that it wasn't already out. He'd popped along to Regent Street to pick one of the tablet devices up for entertainment on his long flight home.

After a few minutes' delay, the doors opened and... some bloke called Ian scuttled out, clutching is iPad box in front of his face and squinting at the cameras.

Jake wasn't far behind. A quick photo op, and he was back inside.

Asked what he planned to do when he got his new iPad home, Jake's answer was touchingly brief: "Sleep."

And that, it seemed, was that. The iPad's out. Grab one if you can find it.