×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BAFTA Brings Back Stephen Fry as Awards Host Despite ‘Bag Lady’ Controversy

Ceremony to be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall

Actor, comedian and author Stephen Fry is to return as the host of BAFTA’s film awards ceremony in February, despite his controversial joke at this year’s awards that an Oscar-winning costume designer looked like a “bag lady.”

As Jenny Beavan, who had just picked up a BAFTA for her costumes in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” left the stage, Fry said: “Only one of the great cinematic costume designers would come to an awards ceremony dressed as a bag lady.” This provoked a torrent of abuse aimed at Fry on Twitter, including accusations of misogyny, resulting in him deleting his Twitter account. Beavan, who was given an Academy Award in 1985 for “A Room with a View” and also won an Oscar for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” later said she and Fry were friends and she was not upset by the joke.

It now looks like Fry, who will be returning to host the ceremony for a 12th time as BAFTA celebrates its 70th anniversary, has been forgiven by the organizers for the kerfuffle.

Clare Brown, director of production at BAFTA, told Variety that Fry wouldn’t be put on a short leash at the event: “With Stephen Fry and hosts of that caliber with that sense of humor you have to let them have their rein a little bit,” she said. “We will have a script, quite obviously, and we have to run to time… It was a bit of a storm in a tea-cup. We felt that it was blown out of proportion, and we are actually looking forward very much to working with him again.”

BAFTA also announced that the awards, which will be on Feb. 12, are to be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, instead of the Royal Opera House, where they have been held in recent years. Emma Baehr, director of awards and membership, explained that the Royal Opera House was unavailable in February as it is being refurbished. “The Royal Albert Hall is a perfect fit: an iconic, prestigious building with a global reputation and profile,” she said.

It is not the first time the venue has hosted a BAFTA awards event. When the film and TV awards were part of the same ceremony, the event was staged at the Albert Hall from 1971-76. It was used again, this time for the British Academy Advertising Awards, 25 years ago.

The after-party will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, as in previous years.

Brown said that she has been keen to work at the Albert Hall for a long time, but it had been unavailable due to the Cirque du Soleil’s residency there.

This has been happily resolved with news that the Cirque du Soleil troupe would perform at next year’s awards show, delivering “a celebration of Britain’s best film talents,” Daniel Lamarre, the troupe’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “As creators, we are constantly inspired by various artists and art forms, and the world of film is a particularly great muse.”

Brown said that working with Cirque du Soleil at the Albert Hall “seemed like a great opportunity to do something different,” although she admitted that adapting the awards show to the circular venue would present “huge challenges.” The venue has a thrust stage jutting into the arena — with attendees seated on three sides — rather than the proscenium arch at the Opera House, and this will give Fry a 200-degree view of the audience. “It will be different for him because he’ll be talking almost in the round,” Brown said. “But it’s great because it gives us lots of creative freedom – the freedom to shoot it differently… [and create] a different look.”

As in previous years, the awards will be televised, with BAFTA Productions and Whizz Kid Entertainment producing a highlights show for BBC One, the U.K. public broadcaster’s main channel.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Juntos

    Juntos Films Production House Launches in Chile with Ambitious Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    Francisco Hervé of Panchito Films, Moisés Sepúlveda from Madriguera Films and Daniela Raviola, three of Chile’s most exciting international-minded independent producers, have together launched a new indie production house, Juntos Films. Hervé has written, directed (“The Power of Speech,” “The Lost City”) and produced (María Paz González ‘s “Daughter”) several feature films, documentaries and TV [...]

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content