Covered in glory

Ah, the official photos are in. (The full range is here.) Look at these two high-fliers at last night’s Radio Times Covers Party at Claridges. Despite the man on the right, the event was pretty star-spangled. I’ve been to a number of these on official duty over the years – it’s a private bash where everyone who’s been on the cover in a given year is invited to go up and collect a framed copy, thus creating a small-screen/publishing love-in and providing starry editorial for the magazine. I’ve even been required to go up and collect a cover twice: once for a cover story I wrote called 50 Films To Change Your Life (no, we didn’t have a cover story that week), and two years ago, embarrassingly, I had to collect Daniel Craig’s on his behalf, because it was to do with films, and I am the Film Editor. Graham Norton, that year’s host, seemed bemused to have to announce my name and invite me to the podium to shake my hand and have his photograph taken with me, and it was awkward and horrible. Never again. No such civilian substitutes required this year, as whoever did the celebrity booking played a blinder.

In a very bald and vulgar way, I’m simply going to list all the stars who were there to collect a cover from genial host Rob Brydon: Keifer Sutherland (I know! even the professionally jaded among us were knocked about by this!), Stephen Fry, David Walliams, Ian Hislop, David Tennant, Philip Glenister, John Simm, Dawn French, Kevin Whateley, Gary Lineker, Barry Norman, Patsy Kensit, Keeley Hawes, Marshall Lancaster, Dean Andrews, Monserrat Lombard (fans of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes will have spotted that these are the cast of those shows), Eddie Marsan, Judy Parfitt, Emma Pierson, Georgia King (Little Dorrit), Natalie Dormer (The Tudors), Freema Agyeman, Gabby Logan, James May, Ben Daniels, Joseph Mawle (The Passion), Gregg Wallace, Jemima Roper (Lost In Austen), Olivia Hallinan (Lark Rise To Candleford), Anthony Head, the lead actor from Merlin … I feel sure I’ll remember some more, and I’ll add them to my vulgar list as soon as I do.

As Rob said in his opening routine: “On this momentous day in history with the first black president of the United States being sworn in and millions watching his inauguration around the world, you’re here because you had your photograph on the front of a magazine. If you didn’t know what kind of person you were before, you do now.”

After the prizegiving – during which, uniquely and brilliantly, Rob kept shushing the audience, who had rudely descended into low muttering very early on – I met Philip Glenister and talked to him for ages about the state of TV drama. (And don’t worry, I know very well when a celebrity is looking over my shoulder, wishing they were talking to someone else, so I wasn’t bothering him, I promise. He was as decent and outspoken as I knew he would be.) It was also good to chat to Barry Norman and find out what he’s voted for in the Baftas – not that I would betray that confidence here. I actually didn’t hang around for too long but it was a good night.


I notice, via a failed Google search for pics, that Stephen Fry was providing a running commentary on Twitter. Am I alone in thinking Twitter is surely the end of the world?

Anyway: stars. It’s fun to spot them at close range. The day I stop being dazzled by famous people is the day I hand in the PRESS card in my trilby hat. I think the reason so many turn out for Radio Times is – apart from the circulation and national treasure status of the magazine – that the Covers Party requires nobody to make a speech, and they keep the paps out.


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