SUNDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2019
FILM BAFTAS IN LONDON
Richard on the red carpet ...
I’ve not been idle whilst the racing has been halted due to an equine flu outbreak … although I seem to have lost the ability to concentrate on anything else apart from the gorgeous Richard Madden … but, come to think of it, that’s been happening since at least the turn of the year!
So, with this in mind, I took a little trip to London yesterday, with the aim of seeing Richard arrive at the Film BAFTAs where he was to be a presenter, along with his co-stars – Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell – from the film Rocketman which is released in May.
Having only tuned into the media circus at the beginning of January, I wasn’t fully up to speed with the procedure for obtaining red carpet access to these events until I researched this with a view to attending the TV BAFTAs which are due to take place on 12 May. Evidently a ballot is run now, for priority viewing, with the remainder of the tickets distributed on a first come, first served basis on the morning of the day … at a mystery location advised at 10:00!
So, fully armed with knowledge ahead of 12 May, I thought my bases were covered … until I discovered a newspaper article late last week stating that Richard would also be attending the Film BAFTAs, on Sunday 10 February at the Royal Albert Hall, as a presenter. I was still thinking ‘too late’ until I read a twitter message on Saturday afternoon reminding everyone that the remaining Red Carpet access wristbands would be distributed at a mystery location at 10:00 the following morning. It was at that point that I knew I had to ‘seize the day’ … no regrets and all that! What is the worst that could happen? I might fail but at least I’d tried!
Having decided this may be my chance (hopefully the first of many) to see Richard in the flesh, I was prepping until bedtime … which turned out to be 00:15 on Sunday morning! It didn’t help that I was suffering from nervous anxiety and awoke at 03:45, despite not needing to leave home until 08:15 to catch a train to London! I cadged a lift to the station, as it was a damp morning.
There was a slight hiccup at the station, when over-running overnight maintenance meant I had to wait until 08:59 for a train. Fortunately, it called at solely West Hampstead Thameslink before arriving at St Pancras, so I got there at 09:23. The only clue to the mystery location was that it would be in Central London, with the BAFTA website also stating it could be within transport zones 1 or 2. Also, with the earlier ballot for places on the steps leading to the Hall entrance, the number of ‘on the day’ availability was reduced.
So, without knowledge, the logical stop off point in my magical mystery tour was going to be Leicester Square, giving easy access to Piccadilly Circus or Covent Garden if necessary; thus I caught a train on the Piccadilly Line. As promised, the message came through on twitter at 10:00 (also upon the BAFTA website) stating the location as Royal Avenue near Sloane Square in Chelsea.
Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person who had been loitering in the Leicester Square area, as there were a number of people suddenly hurrying to catch a train from Piccadilly Circus! Once standing on the westbound platform of the Piccadilly Line, I asked a group of them if they were hurrying to collect a wristband for the BAFTA event … yes, they were. Having arrived at South Kensington, we had to change onto the District/Circle Line for Sloane Square. I heard two or three announcements about the increase in accidents within the pedestrian areas on the underground in recent times … not surprising when there are crazy people rushing to get somewhere, like ourselves at that moment in time!
Anyway, we got out of the tube at Sloane Square and the more active members of this quest were able to run to join the queue. I wasn’t one of them … long gone are the days, twenty years ago, when I gave all bar three or four young men a good run for their money in the rush to get seats on Wimbledon’s old court number two ahead of the 1999 quarter-final featuring Agassi vs. Kuerten. For the record, it was a fabulous match, three sets played in the very best sportsmanship! And I never knew there were so many Brazilian fans living in London … but I digress.
Evidently a fear had been expressed that professional autograph hunters and some others may have received details of the location before everyone else … and our fears were realised; the queue stretched to the far end of Royal Avenue by the time I arrive. Others arrived after us too. The official number of ‘on the day’ wristbands was given as 475 … it was estimated that I was 620th in the queue. Those towards the rear like me were told to go home, but few did!
Anyway the security guy in charge of organising the wristbands told those who’d stayed to listen, that there may be a chance if we turned up in Queen’s Gate at 14:00; the wristband holders having been told to report at 13:00. So I set off on an initial reconnaissance walk through Chelsea, passing the Natural History museum en route, before heading up Queen’s Gate, and past the entrance to Prince Consort Road where preparations were being made. I then turned right to head along Kensington Gore and back down Exhibition Road to reach the Cromwell Road once more.
I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, but I thought I ought to spend a penny and maybe buy a sandwich. I was thinking that I might find an M & S but, having reached South Kensington underground station, my quest proved impossible. I turned back, and spent a penny at the Victoria and Albert Museum instead! I then headed back past the Natural History Museum and up Queen’s Gate once more.
A long queue had formed just prior to Prince Consort Road, which I presumed to be wristband holders, so I loitered a few yards behind this. In hindsight, it may not have been the best thing to do as I think a fair number of non-wristband holders had joined it too. Anyway, the security guy promised to get the majority of people in but the latecomers, which now included me (although I’d actually arrived at 13:20 so shouldn’t have been one), were told to go home. However, no-one left despite this!!!
In the end, and facing an impasse, the security guy relented and we were squeezed in at the back; forming the fifth row. There were a couple of rain showers whilst we were waiting but, apart from that, it was a dry afternoon and evening. I wasn’t cold either, as I’d dressed for National Hunt winter horseracing – my black/grey/blue polo-neck thermal t-shirt, turquoise thermal t-shirt, fleece lined purple thermal t-shirt, fleece lined Prussian blue thermal t-shirt, turquoise NHS cardigan, thermal 60 denier tights, black jeggings, grey frill at the hem and front M&S skirt, turquoise fleece, purple gillet fleece, turquoise BHS padded jacket, socks and black Danville Hotter boots. I also wore my grey ladybird design fleece snood and a pair of purchased crocheted mittens! And yes, I was hot when running around earlier in the day, and weighed down too by the contents of my handbag! As you may know, I find it impossible to travel light.
Anyway, the stars began to arrive just before 17:00 – I saw Richard E Grant, Steve Coogan, Brian May and his wife Anita Dobson, Glenn Close, Rami Malek, Taron Egerton, Adam Driver (whose character I cannot forgive for killing Han Solo in Star Wars), Gwilym Lee (ex Midsomer Murders), Andy Sirkis, Luke Evans, Salma Hayek, Eleanor Tomlinson (her dad is the actor and racecourse commentator Malcolm Tomlinson), Jessie Buckley, Rachel Weisz, Margot Robbie, and, finally, Bradley Cooper. There were lots of younger stars who I didn’t recognise … it’s my age. I also saw Edith Bowman, Dermot O’Leary, the BBC’s Entertainment Correspondent Lizo Mzimba, and ITV’s Richard Arnold.
The man himself, Richard Madden, walked along the red carpet just before 18:10, having stopped off for official photos en route:
It was wonderful to be so close; he’s absolutely gorgeous, so beautiful, and such a nice guy too, and I’m thrilled to have finally seen him in the flesh!
Being 5 rows back, I didn't manage to obtain a selfie or an autograph on this occasion, although I couldn’t resist following his progress along the red carpet, until weight of numbers prevented this and he disappeared from view; I respect the man, so refuse to be loud or pushy (unlike some red carpet fans, especially with those stars who weren’t as forthcoming as Richard is). Anyway, small steps at a time, there's no harm in looking forward in anticipation to a time when I might be lucky enough to say hello and gain an autograph or a selfie with him.
It's amazing when you think of the entire size of the world and the history of time itself that, through dedicated endeavours, one can be in the same place at the same time with that special person.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge having also arrived, although they didn’t walk along the beginning of the red carpet but joined it near the steps into the Hall itself, we were permitted to leave at 19:10. I thanked the security guy on the way out too!
Anyway, I headed back down Queen’s Gate, before turning right to head along to Gloucester Road tube station as I deemed this to be the nearest one. There is a lift down to the platform; I’m not keen on lifts, but never mind. I then caught an eastbound train to King’s Cross before heading along to the Thameslink platform to catch a fast train back to St Albans (second stop after West Hampstead Thameslink).
I walked home from the station, despite my feet being sore, and arrived back at 20:50, just in time to watch the ‘delayed’ 2-hour coverage of the BAFTAs!
And I survived the day on just a bowl of porridge … which is very fitting!!!
Richard is amazingly proficient at the Selfie … he’d have to hold the camera for me, as I’d be shaking too much and it wouldn’t just be my advanced age!
And, today, there is news that Richard will be reprising his Bodyguard role as David Budd for Red Nose Day on 15 March … that’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Day! He should keep the natural white ‘Madden’ streak in his hair (that’s as opposed to a Mallen streak) if he stars in Bodyguard 2 should it happen.
I’m still stiff and sore following my adventure, and one of my toes has turned blue (the toenail fell off a number of weeks later) – but that’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of seeing Richard!!! However, I have been able to rest today, as it wasn’t a work day!!!