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Joanna Lumley, Host's Opening Monologue, EE British Academy Film Awards

18 February 2018

Joanna Lumley's opening monologue for the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony

Joanna Lumley: Your Royal Highnesses, my lords, ladies and gentlemen and everyone watching at home, a very warm welcome to the EE British Academy Film Awards, BAFTA's annual celebration of excellence in film. Thank you to Cirque Du Soleil's OVO for their enchanting performance paying tribute to The Shape of Water.

We are coming to you from the ravishing Royal Albert Hall , bursting at the seams with history, and a place that, exactly one hundred years ago, hosted an historic event celebrating the first group of British women being given the vote.

A century ago, the suffragettes laid the groundwork for the kind of dogged resistance and powerful protest that is carried forward today with the Time's Up movement; and with it the determination to eradicate the inequality and abuse of women the world over.


Tonight we salute all the talented, creative and inspirational individuals who have enriched our lives through their steller work. And this evening is about celebrating every aspect of film - including those who work tirelessly behind the scenes - the hard-working crews who bring every single production to the screen. This ceremony is not just about the famous people. 

But anyway let's have a look at the famous people here tonight...

The inimitable Gary Oldman  is here. Gary's performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour is the latest addition to an already phenomenal body of work. Gary's unique ability to transform himself and become utterly unrecognizable was evident in the other roles he played this year - Yoda, Wonder Woman and Lego Batman.

We have the incomparable Sally Hawkins,  who starred in a highly complex morality tale that examined the nature of alienation, loneliness and integration with human civilization.

My favourite scene was when she helped Paddington with that chase on the train. Marvellous. 

The tour de force that is Frances McDormand is with us. She's one of a select band of actresses who've won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony and a Golden Globe and in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, she delivers a performance that's nothing short of a masterclass. 

Daniel Kaluuya, star of the jaw-dropping 'Get Out' is here.  In some of the film's most memorable moments, Daniel is controlled by other people and trapped in a chair, powerless to move. A skill that will come in handy tonight, because I am afraid to say, no one gets a comfort break 'til we are done here. Rules are rules but lovely to see you Daniel.

The captivating Annette Bening  is with us. Annette gave such a complex and touching performance in Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool - brilliant film, brilliant title and the reason all of tonight's nominees have been house hunting on Merseyside, because Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool. 

Sir Daniel Day Lewis joins us tonight.  Daniel is nominated for Phantom Thread and his performance as dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock. In preparation, Daniel actually learnt to sew to haute couture standard. I know what you're thinking and you're right, he did make my outfit for this evening. Thank you darling, Betty Jackson would be very proud of you. 

The hardest-working woman in Hollywood is here, the glorious Angelina Jolie. Actress. Director. Writer. Mother. Humanitarian. There is literally nothing this woman can't do. Since she arrived tonight, she's already carpeted the foyer and knocked up four hundred portions of risotto for the after-show dinner. Marvellous. 

The enchanting Octavia Spencer joins us.  In The Shape Of Water, Octavia has a pivotal role in that most classic of love stories - boy meets girl, boy turns out to be amphibious humanoid, girl keeps amphibious humanoid in the bathtub, amphibious humanoid ends up jumping in a canal. It's a story as old as time itself...

The exceedingly charming Hugh Grant is in the building , fresh from his scene-stealing performance in Paddington 2. Quite how Hugh managed to portray a vain and egocentric actor is beyond me. Don't know how you did it darling, remarkable stuff...

Good luck to you all - and to every single one of our nominees this evening - in one sense, you're all winners tonight.

And in another sense, if you believe that, you'll believe anything. 

But one thing is certain - it has been a truly extraordinary year of cinema. Don't take my word for it,  just look at this breathtaking whistle-stop tour of the last twelve months in the cinematic universe....