2018 BAFTA Awards: Sneak peek inside Royal Albert Hall

Here at the Royal Albert Hall in surprisingly-mild London (standard weather joke about England number one), the 2018 BAFTA Awards are all set to get underway this evening (Feb. 18). The ceremony, which will conclude in a few hours time with the winner of Best Picture (“Call Me By Your Name,” “Darkest Hour” “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are the five  nominees) kicks off at 6:45 p.m. local time.

The arrivals have already begun and the first batch of attendees have started to spill out onto the red-carpet and into the Hall. A few bars are open for all attendees to enjoy a glass of champagne – or a glass of water should said attendee be driving, which I have overheard from a number of American guests. However, all is quiet on the SW7 front (little London geography joke for fellow Brits reading!) in terms of stars and filmmakers – no one famous has yet turned up. Who will be first to turn up? And by ‘turn up,’ I mean arrive at the Hall, not party and get drunk. Although that will definitely be a question worth asking later on after the awards

Those of us press members who are most eager are already down here in the BAFTAs Winner’s Press Conference room, where we’ve also been offered a glass of champagne. Alas, we are at work and we have all declined. Water for us.

SEE 2018 BAFTA Awards: What time does the show start, who is hosting and presenting?

The fashion on show is nothing but extraordinary, with one particular gentlemen’s shoes so shined they are positively blinding. A slickly-dressed husband has just called his wife “the most elegant mermaid there ever was” (his words, not mine)–  I’m not sure about the mermaid part, but the elegance she is exhuming is undeniable. Her lilac laced dress flares at the feet and is dotted with silver jewels all over – Reynolds Woodcock would be proud of the handiwork.

The Winner’s Press Conference room down here in the basement now seems to be turning into some form of reception for a portion of guests, which more than one member of press has described as ‘odd’ to me. There are members of press scattered along the sides of the room typing, as I am, on their laptops while nominees and attendees sip champagne and discuss their upcoming work: one gentlemen is shooting off his mouth about shooting off out of the UK tomorrow morning to continue working on the shoot for, did I hear correctly, Damien Chazelle‘s Neil Armstrong biopic.

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It’s all making for quite a confused atmosphere; those working for BAFTA aren’t sure what to do with us press and us press aren’t sure whats going on, really. Interviewing seems to be off the cards, says one BAFTA worker and we simply have to wait until the bubbly-sipping guests slip out of the press room and into the auditorium in an hour or so, when chairs will be put out for the press and we can sit down and comfortably begin preparation for the ceremony to begin.

BAFTA changed the set-up this year so those of us with passes to the Winner’s Press Conference cannot linger in the Media Centre to watch the red carpet and prepare like last year. Instead, we are down here mingling with a variety of guests. The room continues to fill out as we inch closer to the ceremony and guests, which a certain number of which I can confirm are nominees (I don’t recognise any faces, however), are congratulating each other and wishing one another good luck this evening. Stay tuned.

SEE 2018 BAFTA Awards: Full list of nominations led by ‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Darkest Hour,’ ‘Three Billboards’

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