My BAFTA Adventure

My EE BAFTA Adventure

I’ve been a BAFTA member for the last 20 years or so and in that time always put my name into the ballot for tickets in the hope of making it to the BAFTA Awards ceremony in London. This year finally the dream came true. I’m a huge movie buff so the chance to mix with the stars and walk the red carpet was just too good an opportunity to miss. I decided to take a really good friend who I knew would literally leap with excitement at every turn. It was going to be a costly business what with the dress, the flights from Scotland, the hotel – but sometimes you just have to go for it.

Having got our outfits sorted, we couldn’t sleep for days and days in anticipation of the big night. It was an early start from Glasgow on the day of the BAFTA ceremony. We had a lot to do, a lot to pack in and our first worry was whether security would notice our crammed full bags of make up in our hand luggage but it was so far so good. Our next worry was the delay of the flight by 45 minutes. How would this impact on the hours and hours we would need to get ready? After all we were going to be mixing with some of the most glamorous people in the world. We definitely needed those extra minutes. Eventually the flight left and the rest of our travel into London went smoothly. We checked into our Mayfair hotel – About 15 minutes from the Royal Albert Hall - where the ceremony was taking place. We had to find time though to pick up our all important, exclusive BAFTA tickets. The BAFTA office in Piccadilly wasn’t too far away so off we set.

Our tickets were in a black embossed envelope with details of the dinner and the after party at the Grosvenor Hotel and our ‘all access’ car park pass for our driver. We looked at each other when we saw the tickets, pretending that attending these types of events was something we did all the time but inside we were quietly screaming with anticipation. We could barely contain our excitement. We really did feel we were in a Willie Wonka movie and we’d won the Golden Ticket!

There was no time for relaxation. We hot footed it back to our hotel to get ready for the big night. We ordered our taxi and knew we had to be ready by then. We had two hours to turn ourselves into something spectacular. Who knows what might happen at the Awards. We had to look our best. I am very lucky in that my closest friend is a hugely talented and well respected makeup artist ( How lucky was I that she wanted to come on this adventure with me!!?

We were up against it though time wise and things were getting tense as our taxi time drew nearer. It was a bit of a scramble at the end but the transformation was complete. We had to get to the Royal Albert Hall before 6 for the recording of the BAFTA’s on BBC One. If we arrived after that we wouldn’t be allowed in so we couldn’t delay.

Our driver arrived and decided we were far too well dressed for a normal taxi so transferred us into his limo. We felt really special and tried to chat normally as we made our way to the Royal Albert Hall. Inside though our hearts were thumping. We knew rough timings of the evening, what was happening when, but a large part of it was unknown.

We pulled up at the Royal Albert Hall and gingerly stepped out of the limo in our long dresses and high shoes. A long black elegant velvet number and my Grecian electric blue gown. We had to take our time especially in such high shoes. We didn’t want to fall over at this stage when everyone was watching. It was absolutely freezing but we were told we wouldn’t have access to a cloakroom and were to bring minimal outer garments so we couldn’t hang About too long. We made our way around to the start of the red carpet. Other guests were also arriving so we had others to follow. As we turned the corner, there was a blaze of light and noise. The barriers were four and five deep with members of the public. The red carpet loomed up several sets of stairs towards the entrance to the Royal Albert Hall.

The security was intense. We had to show our tickets seven or eight times. We stopped to take photographs and posed beside the BAFTA noticeboard and the BAFTA mask. Everywhere you could hear clicks, turn this way, turn this way, over here, over here. As we moved closer to the entrance and up the carpet, we noticed hundreds of press and film cameras all bunched up on one side. Clearly not for us. They were all lying in wait for the big stars and of course the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For a moment though, for several moments in fact, we wallowed in the glory of our own importance. We were part of this. We had a right to be there. We tried to be calm and kept the smiles going but inside we were shaking. We would be on the live stream around the world and part of photographs taken by all sorts of people. All wondering who on earth we were! We didn’t care. We looked the part and we were determined to carry it off.

Security tried to move us on gently but we had time for just one more photograph. We might have lingered longer but it really was very cold so eventually we headed inside and on to the reception for BAFTA members. Champagne was flowing and guests were impeccably dressed. From the balcony of the reception we had our first look at the set up of the Royal Albert Hall. The lights, the cameras, the bumper big screen and the beauty of the auditorium itself. It really was quite breathtaking. We watched as Stephen Fry did his rehearsal and then all guests started to stream into their seats. We sat beside the friend of a nominee for one of the foreign language films. They’d travelled to London from Japan.

The ceremony started. We had a fantastic view and watched as Stephen Fry gave a special welcome and a kiss to Meryl Streep and then as he welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

No doubt many of you will have watched the ceremony so you will know the details of who won what so I won’t go into that but it didn’t feel like two and a half hours of sitting down. It went like a flash. By that time though it was after 9.30 and we were most certainly ready for dinner.

We followed the throngs of people towards the exits brushing past some of the BAFTA winners, Casey Affleck and Amy Adams, as they were being escorted to their VIP cars. We had to assemble outside and coaches were to take us to the Grosvenor for the BAFTA dinner and after party. It was even colder as we waited and our feet were beginning to hurt. We’d been up and down a lot of steps and had done a fair bit of standing and walking so perhaps our choice of footwear wasn’t the wisest but that’s just what we women do. I started to shiver in my thin shawl hoping that the coach would arrive as quickly as possible. Then another lovely moment. The gentlemen behind us, who was with his wife, offered me his large wool coat and put it over my shoulders. As it turned out he was British but lived in California and was up for an Award in the Best Sound category for the film Deepwater Horizon. He didn’t win but the Sound in that movie is absolutely amazing and I told him how much I liked it (not just because he gave me his coat!)

All the guests on the coach felt the same as us. We were all cold and all starving. We chatted About the Ceremony and who had won what. Again, all sorts of people from all walks of life. All there because of their passion for the movies, whether they worked in the industry or just loved films.

We arrived at the Grosvenor and entered the ballroom. There was a table plan with 200 tables so at least 2000 were attending the dinner. Certainly the biggest dinner I have ever been to. Every table had a movie theme from the five nominations in the BEST FILM category. LaLa Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, and I, Daniel Blake. We were at the Daniel Blake themed table and I sat beside the lovely Anne who was a composer for Film and TV. There weren’t too many female composers in the film business so I was able to relate to her as a woman in football. We chatted to Esther from Newcastle whose equity company invested in the movie business, another makeup artist and a special effects designer.

By this time, it was 11 o clock and we were just sitting down for our main course. The food and wine were delicious and at 12 midnight we were asked to move down to the after party. A huge room with a dance floor, expresso martinis and yes, more champagne and wine. There were separate areas with snacks, sweets and miniature ice creams, photobooths, photo areas with frames, and all the while the champagne flowed. We spent the next couple of hours moving around the room and chatting. We met executives from 20th Century Fox and Universal, we met friends of nominees, we danced and then at 3.10 we hit the wall. We’d been invited or we certainly thought we’d been invited to a party hosted by producer Harvey Weinstein in Soho where some A list celebrities were going to be, but we’d had enough. A final photo was taken and we headed for the taxi and back to our hotel.

Our feet were killing us but we had had the best time. It was the longest day ever but it is one we will never forget - our 2017 trip to the EEBAFTA’s.

Tom Watson

If I’m lucky enough to cover another Open Golf Championship, it’ll be strange not to see the wonderful Tom Watson out on the course. He’s been an ever present in every Open Championship that I’ve covered for BBC Radio Scotland and latterly Always approachable, always a pleasure to deal with and always a joy to interview.

Every golf fan has a story About the five times Open Champion. My most memorable one was the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry. For me, in terms of sporting drama, this Open will be hard to beat. I was the 18th green reporter, positioned at the recorders hut ready to get the interviews with the players after they’d had their scores checked. I remember Tom Watson was tied for second after the first round and led the field for most of the next three days. He did interviews with BBC TV, with NBC America with BBC Five Live, and then me, after every round. He was 59 at the time but even doing his fourth interview in succession, he was charming, engaging, enthusiastic, polite and always keen to show his passion for golf, his affection for Scotland and for the Scottish golf fans.

It really was quite a week and an incredible thrill for me to be right in the thick of it. Tom had been playing well going into the event and was feeling confident but none of us journalists (what do we really know) really thought he could sustain his good form. He was nearly 60 after all and he’d had a hip replacement. After each round he was continually asked if he could keep it going. Same questions and always, he answered with a smile. He even did that ‘Well Alison ..‘ at the start of his answer to my question. He remembered my name! What a pro. Fast forward to the last round. I was able to keep tabs on what was happening through my headphones as we listened to our commentators around the course. I was also able watch the TV through the door in the recorders hut. A real drama, an amazing story was unfolding before our very eyes. Could this really be victory for Watson? He would be the oldest man ever to win an Open Championship? He’d seen off the likes of Tiger and the other young guns. This would surely be the biggest upset in sport, let alone golf. I remember it being so tense. I remember thinking how must he be feeling. I remember willing and willing him to make that 8 foot putt to win the final hole and the Open title. He didn’t and that meant a play off against Stewart Cink which Cink won without too much trouble. The stuffing had been knocked out of Tom Watson and inside he must’ve been devastated. As a journalist you should always remain neutral but I was devastated for him. This wasn't the right ending to the story but that is how sport works sometimes.

Of course, Tom still had to go through the protocol of talking to the media after his round. I thought there’s no way he will talk to everyone – he’ll still be so upset. BBC TV, BBC Five Live, American TV were all waiting for him – and I hovered hoping that he would still agree to do an interview for Radio Scotland. He finished and came over to me and did a brilliant interview. I can’t imagine what he was really feeling. He looked tired after all the mental and physical exertion but he was still smiling and managed to be quite philosophical About what had just happened and complimentary About the new Open Champion Stewart Cink. I was full of admiration for this man then, and now – a true professional, brilliant golfer and wonderful human being. What a privilege for me and what an amazing few days in July 2009. I just wish it had been one of those, “Where were you ….. when 59 year old Tom Watson won the Open, moments.

An Accies Tale

The tale of Accies 2014 " 2015 SPFL journey

By Alison Walker

Here we go, here we go.. at the start of the fray

There were doubters of course that said NO WAY.

A small club indeed, but with good players and good form.

Could they succeed or at least weather the storm?

It started with the play offs at the end of the season.

Game one, Accies were down and not without reason.

So to Edinburgh where it was do or die

What a show, what a performance as we watched Accies fly.

Jubilation, celebration as they made the top flight

On merit, on skill, on team work and flght

A moment to savour, an incredible day

One to remember forever in May.

Onward to the Holy Grail of the S P F L

Of course many believed Accies would dwell

At the bottom of the table,

Cast away from the rest

Surely no way they could contend with the best?

Little attention, low expectation, under the radar they were

Defeat to Caley Thistle kept them out of the glare.

A win over the Saints gave them some hope

Soon it was four out of five and they showed they could cope

A draw at United brought that place at the top.

How could this be when they were meant for the drop?

Is this a dream? Their fans must’ve thought

Don’t wake up they said or we might just be caught.

But things, it seemed were to get even better.

On 5th of October Accies became the pace setter.

A win at Celtic Park, and they were clear by one

Cheered on by their fans, another day in the sun.

The record will show Crawford hitting the net

The fans will remember their best team yet

It was 1938 when Accies last won

In Glasgow’s East End it was Celtic who were glum.

Aberdeen were next to be put to the sword

At New Douglas Park, it was the home fans who roared.

Back down to earth by the men from Dundee..

But Accies bounced back they’d give nothing for free

More wins than losses, the odd draw and own goal.

The players worked hard and stuck to their role.

Another chance at Christmas to move to 2nd spot

It wasn’t to be, after a late Killie shot.

33 points so still a great year.

Would 2015 bring even more cheer?

It was the local rivals next as the New Year dawned

Contrasting fortunes but Accies were warned.

They’d won at Fir Park in convincing style

Against a Motherwell side without heart or guile.

It was cold and wet for this derby day

And the wind did its best to destroy the play.

But right from the start it was Accies who attacked

And they never looked back with ‘Well on the wrack.

Top team in Lanarkshire with a five nil score-line

It might’ve been more " maybe possibly nine.

A few days later another win to the fore

A red card for the Saints and a one nil score.

Accies beside Celtic … in third by one

Sitting very pretty after another game won.

Then out of the blue came a call from down south

The word had spread, from mouth to mouth

The success made their manager a wanted man

It seemed Norwich City were Neils biggest fan.

So would he stay or would he go?

Ten years at Hamilton, it was hard to know.

He had the support from home either way

But he opted for England and didn’t stay.

So Accies continued without their star coach

Though the team made sure it was the same approach

The games were coming thick and fast

No time to think or dwell in the past.

For the game v United Canning was the man

From the start he watched, but this wasn’t the plan …

Accies were down" and on the back foot

Was there any way back, was there a route?

Spurred on in the second " Accies pulled level

Who would score the winner, no time to revel.

United struck again as Accies were slack

A header from Dillon right out of the pack.

Another game gone " it was time to prepare

For a game v the champions, how would they fare?

Victory at Celtic had boosted belief.

Could Accies repeat and give them more grief?

Accies had chances but Gordon blocked..

Celtic scored twice, still Accies weren’t rocked.

They kept to the game plan, they didn’t lose their rag

But Celtic were victors, three points in the bag.

The position of manager was still to fill

The interim man keen and had the will

But was he the one to move Accies on?

Or were there others for a brave new dawn?

A well run club with much to admire.

No wonder the interest but who would they hire?

The intent was always to promote from within

A feel for the Accies under their skin

Without a win it was given to Canning and Co

To get back on track and restore that glow.

It wasn’t to be against the men from Firhill.

A dreadful day, Thistle were out for the kill

For the ICT game it was only 10p

Turn out in your numbers was the plea

And thank the former management team

For their key role in… ‘Accies the dream’

As for the show on the pitch that day …

Nothing really went the Accies way.

A determined start that fell away

The Highlanders with an impressive display.

Four defeats in a row it wasn’t the best

They were free falling down and closing in on the rest

Would someone eventually step up to the mark?

Gaining a point v Dundee " it was close at Dens Park.

Up rose Canning to head late on

But Dundee levelled and the win was gone.

Of course there WAS always the next game

The hope of 3 points to ignite the flame

Who would’ve thought weeks would pass by

An Accies win seemed pie in the sky.

Eventually it came after being pipped to the top six

Accies in 7th … and too late to fix

But the season will be remembered for evermore

For more highs than lows " and stories to store.

Norwich City did their stuff to put the icing on the cake.

Alex Neil proving his worth after making the break

The Accies fans wallowed in the Norwich success.

And why not indeed. He was one of their best.

Baku European Games

When you work on big sports events - on short term contracts - yes the sport you cover is incredible, enthralling, exhilarating and exciting but at the end of it all, it’s the people you work with - from the volunteers, to the staff in the International Broadcast Centre cafe, to the producers and assistant producers of the programmes who make sure you’re on the right track, to your fellow reporters and commentators - these are the things you really remember. New friendships and old. When you’re working short, you work sharp. There is no hiding place and you do find out who the team players really are. Baku was, and is an incredible city - the people are warm and kind. I lost my way to the Underground - the waiter from the cafe we’d been sitting in pointed me in the right direction and then walked with me for at least half a mile to make sure I found it. No English - and no Azeri spoken by me - but we got there. Only one negative About the city for me. If they want more foreigners to visit and host more big events they will need to address their transport situation. Everyone drives too fast. No one sits any driving tests. There are accidents every day and because Azerbaijan is an oil rich country, the cars are huge - and consequently the damage to human life is major too. Cars actually stop in the outside lane of a dual carriageway and local people randomly cross the motorway without a care. Azerbaijan is rich in so many ways - their culture and their natural resources . They haven’t been independent for too long but they are catching up fast. They love their sport - especially wrestling - and the people adore their President and First Lady and love their country. I was asked did I not feel the same About my country! I do of course! It was a privilege to work with the people of Baku and Azerbaijan on the first European Games. However, I will never complain About the traffic in the UK ever again.


Interviewing Pele at the Olympic closing ceremony in London.

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