When I had the idea to begin HeyUGuys just under two and a half years ago, I never in my wildest dream ever thought that it would lead me to an event like the one I attended yesterday.  That event was the 2011 BAFTA Awards followed by the BAFTA meal and after-party. Grey Goose were kind enough to invite me along to experience the evening as one of the sponsors.

Dressed in my bow-tie and full get-up, I headed off to a cold and wet London for an event that I had been watching on TV for years now and still couldn’t believe that I was actually going to get to go to the biggest movie awards ceremony in the UK. The stars were out in force last night with just some of the talent including Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, J. K. Rowling, Gemma Arterton, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Samuel L. Jackson, Amy Adams, Tim Burton, James McAvoy, Gerard Butler, Dev Patel, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Emma Stone, Jessie Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Aaron Sorkin, Christopher Nolan…. the list just goes on and on! (See our red carpet photos here).

After walking the carpet, we were ushered into a champagne reception where various media mogles gathered for the main event. We were on the upper tier looking down to where all those nominated would gather for their own drinks reception. Moving into the main awards space in the Royal Opera House, the set up was pretty much the same with all the nominees and big-wigs mingling and chatting while myself and the @TheGooseInsider did our best to spot the talent as they came in, both of us getting it wrong most the time as we were a little too far away but it was fun all the more! Think of it as a celebrity ‘Where’s Wally?!’

The awards started with an opening speech given by the Chairman of BAFTA, Tim Corrie. As we waited for Jonathan Ross to start the show, we noticed from our vantage point what looked like dancers who were preparing to strut their stuff and they did just that. My attempt to film them was thwarted by being asked to turn my camera off by the powers that be but hopefully you got to see this slightly different style opening for yourself on BBC last night. The dance troupe were part of Vertigo’s Street Dance 2 and did wonders as a promotion for them but also was a fantastic way to open the show with the acrobats doing cartwheels and somersaults down the aisles below us.

The awards ceremony was a great experience. Just being there opened my eyes as to how massive these events are and how they come together. Highlights for me was watching the team from The King’s Speech win their seven awards and pay tribute to their writer, David Seidler who was inspired when he heard King George VI speak. Seidler too had a stutter and realised that if a King could overcome a stutter, then he could too. The most poignant moment of the evening however had to be that of the Fellowship award given to Sir Christopher Lee. The auditorium erupted as the legendary actor who has done no less than a record breaking 260 titles (and is in the Guinness Book of Records to prove it) to date with The Hobbit on his slate in the coming months reprising his role as Saruman. Tim Burton who has worked with Lee on numerous occasions presented the award after we were treated to a montage of his previous works. The man is a true acting genius and to be there for that moment was simply special and one I’ll never forget.

Other than a few auto-queue malfunctions by Rosamund Pike, followed by her nearly opening the envelope before seeing the nominees, the event went pretty smoothly with Jonathan Ross anchoring the proceedings brilliantly. Now, onto the dinner and afterparty!

The Post BAFTA Awards Meal

I had no idea what to expect as we drove to the Grosvenor House Hotel for the post BAFTA meal and afterparty. I didn’t know who would turn up as I had a feeling people would begin to leave and go elsewhere after the main awards but how wrong I was! Entering the building was yet another huge long line of journalists (a place I’ve become slightly more familiar of late) with Aaron Sorkin, Aaron Johnson and anyone else you can think of called Aaron. Upon entering the building and grabbing my orange juice (I don’t drink but there was epic amounts of champagne!) I followed Jessie Eisnberg and Darren Aronofsky into the main auditorium. I found out later that this huge space was kitted out for 2000 people all to have dinner at the same time and that pretty much everyone who was at the awards was also at the event.

Around the room I could see Harvey Weinstein, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Gerard Butler, Tim Burton…. again, the list goes on! I was on the Grey Goose table who were sponsoring the afterparty and had played host to myself and a collection of other very lucky individuals who had come from all over the world to be there this evening. I was amazed that I was technically having dinner with all these Hollywood megastars! Think of organising a wedding for 200 people and then times that by ten. I mean this thing was massive!! Every table had a theme from the Best Film nominations. Each place mat had images from the table you were sat at and we were on true grit with a cactus as our centerpiece. Whoever put it all together did an amazing job and should be commended!

As we arrived, myself and my new friend Andrew (aka @revealmag) were pretty tired! We couldn’t work out why until we realised it was 10pm on a Sunday night so ordered up a cup of tea which went down a treat! Nothing was every too much for the staff at the Grosvenor House Hotel and they deserve a medal for working last night, especially with us ordering cups of tea! Photo to prove it on the left!

Now, this might sound a bit strange but our table was the final table you had to walk past to get to the men’s facilities! This sounds bad BUT, on the contrary, this was an awesome place to be because even A-listers have to go when they have to go! This played into my hands nicely with Sir Paul McCartney brushing past our shoulders and while he was doing his stuff, I worked up the courage to ask him for a photo on his way back out! Alas he told me that he wasn’t doing photos otherwise everyone would want one but he did ask to shake my hand to wish I obliged forthwith! He thanked me for understanding and that was that! So, yes, my hand has shaken that of a Beatle! I haven’t yet washed it and the likelihood is I never will! 🙂

The list carried on with Kevin Spacey going by, Darren Aronofsky etc! It was indeed a fantastic meal followed by chocolates shaped in the BAFTA logo which were flipping amazing! I wish I’d brought some home!! Next we moved onto the after-party which was the part I think a lot of people were waiting for!

The After Party

Again, not knowing what to expect, I made my way upstairs and realised that I was following Rosamund Pike, Tilda Swinton and Gemma Arterton! I only hang with the cool kids don’t cha know! The Squeeze (that would be a band from the 70s / 80s) were proving the live music followed by a DJ who ended up playing a Lady Gaga song (thanks to Helen)! I’ve placed a load of photos from the after party which was sponsored by my hosts, Grey Goose and as you’ll see, the turn-out was pretty darn good. I regularly saw Emma Watson walk past and it was so nice just to hang out with people at an event and see them having fun without the usual media craziness which follows them. They are, after all just people!

Most the evening was spent hanging out with the legendary Krista from @Beautyanddirt, @Spliggle from Sky and meeting lots of lovely new people from BAFTA and generally having a fantastic evening mingling with other people who love film which, at the end of the day, is why I had the idea to start HeyUGuys. 2.5 years later, here we are!!

Crazy days but a massive thank you to Grey Goose (and @TheGooseInsider for looking after us!) for inviting me along and for giving me an evening of movie awesomeness that I’ll never forget!

Check out the images from the Grey Goose after-party which you can click to enlarge.