Breaking: Bafta organisers stock up on Earl Grey

SIR Christopher Lee had a look at his best bits tonight at the Baftas. A montage of his films flashed across the main stage before he said fangs a lot from Tim Burton and collected the Fellowship lifetime achievement award.

During the clips, a string of creepy wizards, white faced vampires and that weirdo man from The Wicker Man played by Lee eyeballed the rows of gushing luvvies that turn up to these awards. But fear not, Jinnah, was in the mix too. You know, Jinnah. The film. 1998. All about the man credited with founding with modern Pakistan.

Imagine if the film Lee’s loyal spook fans probably are least likely to have seen from his colossal back catalogue, but the one he is most proud of, hadn’t have been in there. After all, The Man With The Golden Gun hates it if you go on about Drac too much and not enough about Jinnah, as we found out in Camden in 2005.

Ahead of a special appearance at Holborn Library, his agent made it clear to council planners that he would not sign autographs, nor talk about his legendary horror flicks. Plus: get the Early Greys in.

As the New Journal reported at the time from an FoI release, the actor’s agent told organisers beforehand:

Mr Christopher Lee has agreed to open your exhibition. This is, of course, always subject to him being in good health and that he is not called away to shoot another blockbuster movie… Note that he will be in a party of six to avoid you having to waste money on bodyguards. All he will need is a car to pick him up and back from the event, Earl Grey tea and water.

He is 83 years old and, although he looks like 60, he does get tired quicker than most of us. He expects to address the attendees and members of the press, providing they keep to the subject at hand, which is Jinnah and/or Notable Asians, a subject he dominates to perfection.

and the agent’s email went on…

What he does not expect is for anyone to bother him with movies he did over 30 years ago and which are no longer relevant to him. He will not be signing any autographs for anyone, so please make sure no one pushes in front of him pictures or books to sign. We’ll also keep an eye for that because it is embarrassing for him to have to say ‘no’.

Now 88 (but looking 68), I hope he got away from tonight’s ceremony without too much fan bother after a nice cup of tea. Well done that vampire.

2 Comments on Breaking: Bafta organisers stock up on Earl Grey

  1. Kim Janssen // February 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm //

    I rather enjoyed John Guliver’s account of the great man’s appearance! From July 1, 2005:

    DON’T mention Dracula! That was the stern instruction handed to library staff when actor Christopher Lee came to the Camden Archive Centre in Holborn on Tuesday night.
    Mr Lee, who played Dracula in a series of Hammer horror films, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, and Count Dooku in the latest Star Wars movies, was the unlikely choice to launch an exhibition about notable Asians in Camden at the Theobalds Road library in Holborn.
    The most notable thing about Camden Asians at the launch was their absence. Apart from former mayor Councillor Nasim Ali, there weren’t any.
    Instead around a dozen library staff, Mr Lee’s entourage and a handful of dignitaries heard the former Hammer star speak for 45 minutes about his and fellow cast members’ performances – including his own in the film Jinnah, the controversial but critically-acclaimed 1997 biopic of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
    He said: “I’ve never had such good reviews.”
    The party mood wasn’t helped by the saturnine actor, who initially refused to be photographed with exhibition curator Mimi Romily or council leader Dame Jane Roberts, whom he rather endearingly called “Lady Jane”.
    Eventually, he relented, but the highlight for many came halfway through his speech when an enormous thunderclap rocked the building. The way Lee icily ignored the lightning was far more frightening than any pantomime theatrics could ever be.
    Later, Ms Romily told me: “I asked him to come along and say something at a book signing at Harrods. I think he expected more people to be here.
    “He doesn’t like people talking about Dracula. It’s just something he did a long time ago and he’d rather be remembered for Jinnah.”

    • Richard Osley // February 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm //

      Agreed.

      “Eventually, he relented, but the highlight for many came halfway through his speech when an enormous thunderclap rocked the building. The way Lee icily ignored the lightning was far more frightening than any pantomime theatrics could ever be.” Inspired.

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