WEDNESDAY 04 DECEMBER 2019
WORLD PREMIERE AND
ROYAL FILM PERFORMANCE OF 1917
AT THE ODEON LUXE IN LEICESTER SQUARE
My ticket to the Premiere of 1917
It had already been announced that the official UK release date for the movie 1917 would be Friday 10 January 2020. There would also be a limited release in the US on Christmas Day 2019 … the idea being to gain nominations for the 2020 Oscars held in February of the year. End of the year releases may have a better chance at the awards, because their merits have not been forgotten, unlike early releases … they are still fresh in the mind!
It therefore came as a surprise when it was announced that 1917 would be given the accolade of being a Royal Film Performance, to be held on the evening of 04 December 2019, and attended by their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The event would be held in support of the Film and TV Charity, at the Odeon Luxe in London’s Leicester Square. There would also be two Gala black-tie screenings, at the Cineworld (formerly the Empire) and the Vue cinema too, also both in Leicester Square. I also bought a ticket to the Cineworld event, just in case I was unlucky in my application for the Royal Premiere ... although I’d probably have gone into the crowd pens instead …
Ticketing details were announced online, and were limited availability for the Royal Film Performance itself; they would be sold on a first come first served basis. Friends Tania, who I first met in the crowd pen at the Rocketman Premiere, and Ruth, both registered their interest following the initial notification, as did I.
To cut a story short, we were all lucky enough to get premium tickets, and the organiser at the Film and TV Charity promised to sit us all together, despite us applying as individuals. The premium tickets cost £400 and the standard tickets £250 … which is cheap when compared to ordinary, commercial-based film premieres which seem to cost between £1,000 and £5,000 for a ticket, depending on whether you also want to attend the after-party!!! There are a total of 794 seats within the Odeon Luxe, stalls and circle, many of which would be taken by connections of the film, not just the general public.
I’d already booked hotel accommodation, for the nights of 03 and 04 December, expecting to be one of those within the red carpet crowd pens, so I retained this despite not needing to arrive very early on 04 December. It would be an expensive couple of days but, as mentioned above, a lot cheaper than other premieres!
The girls and I had a conversation about a Marvel Premiere for Eternals (in which Richard will play the role of Ikaris) next October/November but, Tania doesn’t think that Marvel generally hold premieres in the UK, solely a press tour. However, maybe Eternals will be different, as Pinewood has been used as the production’s studio headquarters? And Disney now has a deal with Pinewood too. So we shall see … especially as Eternals is their new franchise, with a series of movies planned for these super-heroes!
Anyway, I had to buy a dress … I purchased a purple one from Bravissimo, and subsequently wondered why I hadn’t bought one of their dresses before; they are designed for top-heavy ladies like me! I really fancied a cobalt blue one … but you can only buy what is available! I bought a new shocking pink warm pashmina, a purple clutch bag, a black cardigan with beaded shoulders and a silver bolero too, none of which I used on this occasion!
I wore my silver Hotter shoes, a shocking pink sparkling pashmina which I’d bought for Royal Ascot in 2018 but not worn that day, and a new silver beaded handbag by Quiz. I chose a tanzanite Murano pendant with Swarovski bicone beading, plus tanzanite Swarovski chandelier earrings; I had constructed the necklace and earrings a few years ago.
Tania and Ruth had been getting worried, as the tickets took a while to arrive; Ruth shared her concerns when we met up in London on Sunday 24 November for the final Q & A showing of Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War, shown at the Gatehouse Cinema in Notting Hill. I did reassure her that arrangements were often last minute, with the despatch of tickets seemingly never a priority. The tickets arrived on Thursday 28 November. Tania, who lives in Portugal, received instructions to collect her ticket from the Cineworld Cinema at 17:45 on the day of the Premiere.
Needless to say, Richard has surpassed horse-racing as my favourite pastime … because I didn’t even attend Newbury races on Saturday 30 November, despite having never missed that particular race-day for the past 11 seasons (2008 to 2018)!
I have extreme difficulty in travelling light … even for this event I needed my trolley suitcase, plus a Flying Tiger ‘llama-print’ backpack and a large handbag to carry my ordinary clothes and outfit for the Premiere, plus all my toiletries and cosmetics! In fact I had to remove some of my every day clothes because there just wasn’t enough room for them!
I also delayed my annual leave from the last week of November to the first week of December to enable preparation and ‘de-briefing’. I travelled down to London at lunchtime on Tuesday; it was a fast train, first stop London St Pancras International. However, I decided to leave the train at London Blackfriars Station and take the Circle/District Line to Embankment. As I was trundling a suitcase, I had to ask staff to let me through the wide gate at my local station, then to exit Blackfriars, enter the Underground and then exit it again at Embankment.
I didn’t wish to exit at Leicester Square Underground station, via the escalators, which would have been my quickest option, instead I walked up the roadway beside Charing Cross station – Villiers Street, crossed the Strand, before continuing along Duncannon Street. I subsequently turned right to head through St Martin’s Place, before walking along Irving Street to enter Leicester Square.
I walked up to the northern side of the Square, via the walkway in front of the Odeon, and into Leicester Place where my hotel was located. The reception was situated on the second floor, so I took the lift to reach it. I was asked if I wanted a room high or low within the building … I didn’t mind, just so long as it overlooked Leicester Square! I was given the key-card for room 315, on the third floor, which proved to overlook the Square and was at the end of the corridor.
It had one window, in the corner and I could see the Odeon Tower; I could even see the entrance doors to the Odeon Luxe when I was sat on the loo! The bathroom wasn’t big enough for a bath, but I did have a shower … which is all I needed!
Tuesday afternoon; the view from my hotel room!
After unpacking, I changed my clothes and was now wearing a skirt, before I met up with Tania in front of the Odeon itself; she was staying at a hostel in Soho. We took a walk around the area, there seemed to be a lot of police action going on … perhaps something to do with the fact that NATO leaders were in London that day!
Ruth had been working on Tuesday and came to meet us early evening, in the basement of McDonald’s also in the Square. I’d brought Christmas presents with me, for the girls; Tania had brought Christmas chocolates for us, from Portugal.
Ruth and my ‘partner in crime’ in Glasgow, namely ‘M’, had been on holiday early last month, and had bought gifts for me too – two camels made from lava and also an alpaca/llama mug.
Tania, Ruth and I headed to an Italian restaurant in Piccadilly Circus for dinner. After dinner, although it was quite late, we went for a walk, with Covent Garden our destination. Personally, I would have crossed directly over Charing Cross Road, but the guys headed in a northerly direction, before crossing over and heading up Shaftesbury Avenue; Seven Dials was now to our right. I used to visit a bead shop in Tower Street, close to Seven Dials. However, we did walk past the Forbidden Planet shop; stockist of comic and sci-fi memorabilia … I’d recently ordered the new Eternals comic, to be released later in the month!
Anyway, we finally decided to head in a southerly direction, into the pedestrianised Neal Street. We found Covent Garden tube station and subsequently Covent Garden itself. It was late now, so the market and shops were closed. We returned via Southampton Street … that’s a familiar name, as my employer has only recently moved one of their offices from there to a new London location!
We continued along Maiden Lane, Chandos Place and William IV Street, before entering St Martin’s Place. We subsequently headed back towards Leicester Square Underground Station, where Ruth left us to head home. I returned to my hotel, whilst Tania returned to her hostel.
I didn’t sleep very well … probably because I dozed off before switching the light off! I awoke at around 04:00, remained awake for a while, before snatching a little bit more sleep before daylight arrived. I went downstairs for breakfast at 07:30ish.
I had paid for the full English breakfast, so had three rashers of bacon, two fried eggs, lots of mushrooms, and a sausage! Plus a glass of apple juice. I always used to look forward to eating two yoghurts too, for breakfast, but the city centre hotels in the chain don’t seem to provide these now. L
By this time, people had started to arrive to collect their wristbands for the red carpet crowd pens later in the day. I met up with ‘L’ in McDonalds, before we both met up with her friend. Tania joined us later. ‘L’, Tania and I went for a walk around the area, before returning to Leicester Square. We noticed people loitering around the entrance to Capital Radio … they were waiting for members of Little Mix evidently!
We then returned to Trafalgar Square for the second time that day; buying lunch in the local Tesco Express, before sitting on the low wall in front of the National Gallery to eat it. I was getting a little restless by now, as it was 13:00 … so we returned to Leicester Square, at which point I returned to my hotel. Tania stayed with ‘L’ for a while.
Preparations for the red carpet are well underway ...
I wanted to start getting ready early, as both Tania and Ruth would be coming to my hotel room to change into their evening outfits! I showered, dried and styled my hair, applied makeup and was ready to go by around 15:30! Tania was nervous and asked to head over to my hotel earlier than we had originally planned. In the end we were waiting for Ruth to arrive, having expected her at around 17:00; the red carpet opening time being 18:00.
I’d noticed the crowd pen occupants lining up beneath my window, from 15:00; they were let into the pen, just one deep on this occasion, with the red carpet ‘going live’ from 16:40!!!
Ruth finally arrived, but was unable to open the bottle of wine she’d brought with her … it would have to wait until later. Tania wore a long red dress, a white faux fur stole, silver shoes and matching handbag. Ruth wore a pale pink long dress, with silver sandals and matching bag. We all wore silver shoes and carried silver bags in fact!!!
The red carpet awaits us ... and the stars of the film too!
At around 17:40 we set off to join the queue for the Royal Premiere; it was only a few metres from my hotel! I waited to the side of the line, whilst Ruth accompanied Tania to the Cineworld box office to collect her ticket. The tickets for the Gala screenings would have to be collected from the box office too, as time had run out to post them to guests!
Special guests were arriving by car, from the eastern end of the Square. Hoardings prevented anyone seeing them alight from their vehicles, with the area patrolled by security guards.
Anyway, we loitered for a while, before joining our designated queue to enter the red carpet … and then we noticed Richard’s mum (Pat) and dad (Richard senior) had joined the queue not far in advance of us; a ‘little birdie’ told us that Richard wouldn’t arrive for another 15 minutes. Obviously we couldn’t wait too long, to see him, as there was just a 45 minute window for everyone to enter the cinema and take their seats by 18:45 at the latest. We also discovered that this was the first time that Richard had seen the film; I know that actor Daniel Mays (Sergeant Sanders) had attended a cast and crew showing on 01 December.
Initially we followed Richard’s connections down the red carpet; his clothes stylist Gareth was there, as was his friend Jeremy. We stopped off to chat with ‘L’ along the way. Photos were taken at the far end of the carpet; Tania took photos for a couple of ladies, and they returned the favour.
Tania (left), Ruth (right) and me on the red carpet ...
and I’m feeling too tall again!
We were then ushered into the cinema, taking the two escalators up to the first floor circle. An area was cordoned off, where the bar usually is, for the cast and major crew members to be presented to the Royals. Our seats were on the right-hand side of the auditorium, as you look at the screen; seats K31, K32 and K33. I understand there was an issue with the programmes, in that the Charity wasn’t permitted to sell them from within the circle area; so we didn’t manage to purchase any copies!
Once seated, we were able to view the red carpet action on the big screen. Richard arrived with his triumviate of ladies – his agent, his publicist and his personal assistant. He posed for the professional photographers in front of the 1917 hoarding; not only did photographers have a great view, but so did members of the general public who were stood on the first floor of Burger King overlooking the area!
Photos taken from within the auditorium
The majority of stars, plus director Sam Mendes, etc, stopped for interviews; Richard did not. I’m firmly of the belief that his Marvel contract, playing Ikaris in Eternals, prevents him from being forthcoming at the present time. A number of fans in the crowd pens were distraught, because they had queued especially to meet Richard in order to get autographs and selfies. Both ‘L’ and her friend missed out again, and were two of these tearful people.
A handful of people were lucky enough to get selfies with Richard, on arrival, but they were guests. Once the Royals had arrived, and the cast and crew presented, Charles and Camilla entered the auditorium whilst we all stood up when the national anthem was played.
The cast and crew were then introduced on stage by Sam Mendes. Andrew Scott was fourth from last, Richard third from last, Dean-Charles Chapman second from last and George Mackay last. Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch did not attend, despite having roles in the film. Mark Strong was there too, as was Daniel Mays.
The cast then headed to their seats within the circle. Daniel Mays and Andrew Scott had been assigned seats on our side of the auditorium; you could tell it was Andrew Scott by the colour of his jacket! However, Richard was on the other side, I think he sat in seat B13; we did, however, see him remove his jacket before sitting down! It’s a pity we weren’t closer, as we might then have been able to appreciation his newly gained super-hero muscles – biceps, pectorals and gluts!
The lights then went down and the film began … it was an exhilarating journey from start to finish … filmed as one sequence; in other words the camera remained focused on the two main characters throughout the film ie. Blake, played by Dean-Charles and Schofield, played by George. Where they went, the camera followed; there was no cutting away to other scenes and locations.
Once the film was over and the Royals had left the auditorium, it was time for everyone to leave …
Tania managed to squeeze her way down the stairway, whilst we got stuck behind others. Anyway, when we arrived in the upstairs foyer, we found that Tania had met Richard and been photographed with him too; it certainly made up for her disappointment at the Rocketman Premiere.
Tania with Richard
When Richard’s party departed, we followed them down the escalator, I switched sides at this point. Richard was accosted in the downstairs foyer whilst someone’s boyfriend took a photo of him with his girlfriend. The actor’s party then departed, heading up the gangway beside the Odeon to reach the car which would take him away. We followed; a lady stopped him part way along and got a selfie too.
Ruth caught up with him but, as his agent, etc, were chivvying him along, the selfie was a failure; although Ruth was pleased that he’d touched her phoned! I asked too, but he politely refused; it is proving extremely difficult to obtain a selfie when Richard is wearing a tuxedo and no sunglasses … but there will be another time for me, I’m sure; fingers crossed.
Richard and his connections got into a couple of cars and were driven away. We returned to my hotel room, where the girls changed back into their casual wear once more. The bottle of wine remained unopened as no-one would go to reception to ask for a corkscrew!
Anyway, I was tired … my friends always know when I am tired as I think my eyelids begin to droop … I think I glaze over too ... so they departed. However, Tania had to return to collect her hair tongs which she’d forgotten, and Ruth forgot her evening bag, which I will return at our next meeting!
Yet again, I didn’t sleep well … probably because I left the light on, all night; it is one of my failings!!! I also had a headache; I put it down to the arthritis in my neck, which gives me issues from time to time.
I went down to breakfast at 07:15. Full English again, four rashers today, and scrambled eggs instead of fried ones!
I packed my remaining items after breakfast and checked out at 09:30. I’d already purchased a ticket to return home, so couldn’t travel on Thameslink until after that time anyway. I didn’t fancy travelling on the Underground to reach Blackfriars Station, deciding to walk instead. I headed past the front of the Odeon once again, stopping to allow a couple of lorries to pass, before heading along Irving Street and entering St Martin’s Place.
I walked down beside Trafalgar Square, before heading along Northumberland Avenue; the Corinthia Hotel is situated to the right, with its main entrance in Whitehall Place. My first obstacle was the steps up to the Golden Jubilee Bridge, over the Thames, and the second obstacle the steps down onto the Southbank! Both bridge lifts were out of order ... but I wouldn’t have used them anyway! However, I had a mission, to photograph the buildings at the Southbank Centre, around the Hayward Gallery, where Richard’s Calvin Klein advert was filmed!
The Southbank Centre
I had to climb further steps to reach the area I wanted to photograph; in particularly the steps which featured strongly. And, what goes up must come down, so I had to carry my suitcase back to ground level once again, before continuing my walk along the Thames Path to the Station. Once again I needed to ask one of the station staff to let me through the barrier, because of the suitcase I was trundling along!
I then had to climb further flights of steps to reach the platform. The station straddles the Thames, so you can see the city buildings to the east, including Tower Bridge. I caught the first train home; it stopped at all stations along the way, but I wasn’t bothered as there was plenty of room on the train so that I could sit down with my suitcase and bags beside me. On Tuesday I’d stood all the way to London.
The train terminated at my station, so there was no risk of me missing my stop, and I even took the lift in order to avoid carrying my suitcase over the bridge … although I did carrying it down the steps on the other side. For the final time, I had to ask a member of station staff let me out through the wide ticket gate!
I left the station and waited in a nearby road for a family member to pick me up to drive me home; there were road and building works at the station at this point in time, making close pickups more difficult. Anyway, I arrived home at around 11:30.
In summary, it was a great evening, I got to see Richard up close once again, although a tuxedo selfie evaded me for the fourth time … but, hopefully, there will be plenty of opportunities for one at a future event. Besides, I love my very happy Glasgow selfie with Richard … and it’s so much more than many fans will ever have …
Photo credit to Gareth Cattermole
I don’t know who shot these two, but they were listed on Richard Madden.com
... and are far too lovely not to post!!!