The second, and main, ceremony for the BAFTA TV Awards starts tonight at 8:00pm GMT – that’s noon in good ol’ Los Angeles, which is still undoubtedly more sunny than this, admittedly, surprisingly pleasant evening in London. As I type that, rain, of course, begins to pitter-patter against the windows in this fifth floor suite of the Royal Festival Hall.
Currently, there are hundreds of well-suited men and beautifully-gowned women walking the streets outside the building. Most of those seem to be general members of the public who have bought tickets to tonight’s event; excitedly taking selfies and enjoying being stared at by passers by. Stars and TV industry members have begun to filter onto the red carpet, however, with the more famous of them (Joanna Lumley, Jared Harris et al) sticking out like rather glamorous sore thumbs. Sean Bean, in particular, is rather noticeable – shouts of “Boromir” and “Ned Stark” are pretty much non-stop. The man is an icon. Lumley, the recipient of tonight’s Fellowship award has just deemed this the event of the year and jokes (?) that she will fashion her BAFTA award into a hat and wear it for a month. Other British TV stars, like Greg Davies and national treasures Ant & Dec are also pottering along the carpet; the “Saturday Night Takeaway” duo giddily clicking their heels and thoroughly enjoying the ceremony.
It’s, unsurprisingly, now hammering it down with rain and umbrellas are being handed out to red carpet walkers (Danny Dyer has just refused one – the “Eastenders” man is too tough for an umbrella, clearly). There are, of course, more jokes being made about British summers then there are nominees with the rain getting ever heavier – there’s one for a BAFTA drinking game. You’d be drunk within half an hour.
Here in the media centre, which is more lively than the Craft Awards but not as lively as the film awards, I’ve just encountered a triumph for Gold Derby. A Telegraph journalist asked me who I was with and shrieked with excitement “oooh, I love Gold Derby!” when my answer came. A few other journalists heard and agreed, too.
The red carpet is proving to be a funny affair, with Alan Carr the pick of the bunch. Stars are constantly being asked which nominated TV shows they love the most – with Thandie Newton’s “Line of Duty” and Sarah Lancashire’s “Happy Valley” being the most common answers. An indication of the night’s potential winners, perhaps?
The evening’s best dressed? Well, on the women’s side Kim Cattrall (who is talking passionately about actors and actresses aged over 50 deserving better roles and praises European film and TV makers for doing that better than their American counterparts), is looking elegant and classy as ever, and “This Morning” host Holly Willoughby looks radiant. Newton, meanwhile looks like the complete A-lister she is; resplendent defined.
On the men’s side, Ant & Dec make a dapper duo and Matt Smith looks sharp, while Oscar- winner (and there aren’t many of those on this red carpet) Cuba Gooding Jr, representing Best International nominee “The People vs OJ Simpson” looks a paragon of gentlemanly class. Malachi Kirby, the BAFTA winner for Best Breakthrough Performance for “Roots,” has just jokingly put his name forward to be named the next superhero in “any Marvel film,” declaring his love for the genre. The night’s biggest name, possibly, Benedict Cumberbatch has just arrived – paving the way for the biggest flurry of camera flashes and whirs of the evening so far. He embraces Smith like an old friend and joins the former “Doctor Who” and “The Crown” star in furiously signing salivating fans’ posters and papers. ‘Benedict’ has already been shouted so much the word sounds alien.
Joan Collins has also just entered the fray in the most Joan Collins way ever, by the way, in an iconic, sparkling silver gown, telling interviewers “hurry up, I’m bloody freezing.” And that just
about tells you the tone of the BAFTA TV ceremony, a true, almost patriotic, celebration of British TV and our stars. By the way, the rain has now stopped.
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