On Valentine’s day 2015 I never thought that 365 days later I’d be spending time with the likes of John Boyega, Jack Whitehall, Eddie Redmayne, and Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact, I didn’t know what the next year would be like, but I certainly didn’t imagine it to turn out like this.
On January 8th I got a text: “Would u maybe wanna go to the baftas red carpet?” from my best friend Liv. Of course my reply was “Mate. Yes omg. YES”…“When?”. Many messages back and forth to each other later and it was confirmed, I was spending Valentine’s day 2016 with my best friend and a whole host of celebrities. A month later and another text from Liv: “You booked ur tix for this wkend yet?”. It was just days before the event and my train tickets still weren’t booked. Hurriedly I booked them, disappointed to see that the advanced booking prices were no longer advanced, as they had been a month before, but just the standard prices. I informed Liv of my now more expensive purchase and spent the next few days wondering how many layers I should pack and how long I could possibly hold a wee for.
Friday the 12th of February finally arrived, and, with my bag bursting at the seams with a minimum of 10 different layers, I got on my train to London. This was the start of what I knew would be a long, cold, but incredible weekend. When I arrived I was greeted by a tight hug from Liv, swiftly followed by us heading towards the train we had to catch that had just pulled in to the station. We got back to Liv’s and then spent at least half an hour deciding what to have for dinner, before settling on Dominos and their ‘buy one get one free’ offer. We then made sure to get an early night ready for our even earlier morning.
On Saturday the 13th we woke up at 4:30am, an hour I forgot actually existed. We got ready to leave the house by 5:15am, which luckily didn’t take long as we had packed the night before. Dressed in 5 layers, with another 5 tucked away in my rucksack, we headed out into the cold, dark morning. Arriving to a dark and eerily empty Central London at around 6am, with sunrise not forecast until 7:14am, we headed to find the queue we were prepared to wait in for the next 9 hours, and finding the queue wasn’t difficult. We found ourselves walking along one side of the building the queue was situated by, turning the corner, and continuing to the end of the line. Round the back of the Theatre Royal was where we would be spending the next 4 hours, and so we settled in, chatting to other people in the queue and attempting to warm up the concrete floor so we could sit down. By 7:30am we had made friends with Connie, Lucy, and Molly, the three people in front of us in the queue. By 7:30am I was also losing feeling in my feet due to the toasty 3°c it was. To warm up I decided to take a trip to Primark to buy a blanket and more socks, I also used this opportunity to visit a toilet and grab a coffee for Liv.
I came back to the queue significantly warmer than before and I was ready to spend the next 6 hours wrapped up in a blanket on the streets of London. However, this 6 hours was cut to just over 1 hour. At around 10am the security, who had been frequently walking round the queue counting how many people were there, told everyone to stand up. As I had just taken off my shoes and gotten cosy in my blanket burrito, I was not particularly amused by this, however I got up anyway. Minutes later the whole queue was moving forwards and there were whisperings that the wristbands were being given out early. 5 hours early. And they were. By 10:15am Connie, Lucy, Molly, Liv, and I were numbers 186-190 of the BAFTA red carpet audience. We then headed to the nearest McDonalds with seats and got food, but to our dismay we were just a little late for their breakfast menu.
After we’d all finished warming up and filling up at McDonalds we headed in our separate directions back home. Almost immediately after Liv and I had got in the door we decided that having a nap was the most necessary thing to do. It was one of the best naps I’d ever had.
Thankfully, on Sunday (Valentine’s day/BAFTA day) we didn’t have to get up until 8:30am, a whole 4 hours later than the morning before. We made our way to Covent Garden for 10:30am and Liv got a hot chocolate from Nero, where we waited to meet Connie. At 11am we went to find the queue we needed to join. Joining the queue wasn’t as easy as standing at the back today, as it had been on Saturday, but required us to ask multiple people “What number are you?”, “300? oh I’m miles ahead of you”, “50? but 284 was just 20 people away?” etc… until we found the location of wristband numbers 186-190. A little later Lucy and Molly joined us and we settled down for 2 hours queuing before we entered the audience pens. This also marked the last 2 hours I could go to the toilet before 7pm that same evening, a problem I was very concerned about. As the clock struck 1pm the queue started moving. People were being let in one by one with multiple wristband checks and a bag search before they ran as fast as they could to find a spot at the ever decreasing area of empty barrier. When our turn came to run to the barrier it had all been taken, so I settled for a nice second row spot behind some people who were shorter than me. About 5 minutes later the lady in front of me left to find her friend, and upon her return she announced that she was moving to a different section of barrier, a foolish move in my opinion. Upon hearing this news Liv and I grabbed the barrier. Numbers 189 and 190 had gotten a barrier place and we couldn’t have been happier.
The next 3 hours consisted of a game of eye spy which included items such as scaffolding, camera, balcony, and person, followed by an intense round of the celebrity alphabet game where all five of us had to name a celebrity whose name began with each letter from A-Z. X was a difficult round. By 4:30pm most of the cameras had set up and the news reporters and interviewers were busy rehearsing what they had to say, ready for the carpet to open at 5pm. Also by this time I had lost all feeling to my feet and was beginning to wonder if I would ever have warm toes again. My thoughts were that I wouldn’t.
At 5pm people started walking down the red carpet, but it wasn’t until 5:30pm that I heard the first screams. “JOHN JOOOHHHNN JOHN JOHN BOYEGA” a chorus of voices screamed. From this I gathered that John Boyega had arrived, however it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I or anyone else near me saw him. After doing multiple interviews for a variety of different companies he crossed the carpet to see the audience. He took selfies with everyone who asked and signed every notebook, poster, and flash card on show, despite being pushed for time due to all the TV channels asking for interviews. Next up on the red carpet was Jack Whitehall. Whilst not as many screams were heard for him as for John Boyega, I was still excited to meet him, and it seemed that after he approached us, so was everyone else. Not long after, Saoirse Ronan appeared in a gorgeous dress which was partially covered by a warm winter coat, one of the best choices anyone on the carpet made throughout the whole evening.
Between 5:50pm and 6:30pm a whole range of people arrived including Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Fassbender, and Matt Damon. However, the loudest scream in that 40 minutes was at 6:25pm when Leonardo DiCaprio came over to sign anything and everything that people placed near his face. After Leo’s appearance the carpet began to die down as most celebrities were already inside the Royal Opera House, ready for the event to start at 7pm. Douglas Booth and Will Poulter were two of the final people making their way down the carpet with it being clear by 7 on the dot.
We left the audience pens just after 7pm and headed straight for the nearest fast food place which had available seats and a toilet. As we were leaving we realised our legs didn’t work properly and everything was cold and ached. With my stinging toes, my stiff and sore legs, my aching back, and my empty stomach, I waddled across Covent Garden with Liv and Connie until we reached the same McDonalds we had had breakfast in the previous day. We devoured our food and rehydrated whilst looking over all our photos and autographs from the day. By the time we left I had regained feeling in my toes and my legs were starting to work again. We said goodbye to Connie at the tube station and left to return to Liv’s house.
It was the end of an incredibly cold, incredibly tiring, but incredibly exciting weekend spent with some of the loveliest people I’ve met, and some pretty great film stars too. The love was definitely felt this Valentine’s day, thank you BAFTAs.