A 'Brilliant Speech' Convinced Bafta to Hire Joanna Lumley as New Host

By Wiseman, Andreas | Screen International, January 10, 2018 | Go to article overview

A 'Brilliant Speech' Convinced Bafta to Hire Joanna Lumley as New Host


Wiseman, Andreas, Screen International


Bafta CEO Amanda Berry talks to Screen about new host.

Joanna Lumley

Bafta CEO Amanda Berry has said that Joanna Lumley’s acceptance speech for her Bafta TV Fellowship in May 2017 went a long way to convincing the organisation’s hierarchy that she would be a fitting successor to Stephen Fry who hosted the ceremony for 12 years.

“The list of people who could host an awards ceremony is very short,” Berry told Screen.

“It is not an easy job. You need to get the tone absolutely right. You need to be able to guide the audience seamlessly through proceedings while keeping the attention on the nominees. We were all taken aback by Joanna’s brilliant speech when she received the Bafta TV Fellowship last year. She was so charming and mesmerising. When we talked about candidates she was on the list from early on. It wasn’t a difficult decision. We didn’t have a lot of time because Stephen only stepped down a few months ago. Thankfully she said yes quickly.”

Read more: Baftas 2018 - full list of nominations

Graham Norton and James Corden are also understood to have been on the organisation’s radar.

Lumley got a rapturous reception when she received the Bafta Fellowship at the Bafta TV Awards last May.

In the speech Lumley said that many actors live a charmed life: “I am like a piece of cellophane, laid over the industry. I have done nothing. We as actors, we are dragged about in golden carriages which are laid on tracks over swamps at midnight by men in their underpants, and we are lit and furnished with words and costumed and made up and addressed. …

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