Last night I met Gail Platt. Her slender frame sashayed down the red carpet – tiny eyes twinkling beneath her trademark bouffant – as I waited, dictaphone in clammy hand. It was a moment I had been waiting for, for at least 20 minutes, and it did not disappoint.
This is a woman who has survived four soap marriages (inc. one to a serial killer) AND a tram crash. After almost 40 years of service to the soap, how does Platt respond when I ask her about life on the street? âYou did say street not streets, didnât you?!â? What a card.
But Gail Platt was just ONE of the famous faces to be found schmoozing around at the Royal Television Society Awards, which were held in the dazzling function rooms of the Grosvenor Hotel in Mayfair. As fellow PRESS pass holders gathered behind the velvet cordons which separated The Talent from The Hack Scum, the likes of Mark Wright, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, Dominic West, Vicky McClure and Keith Lemon posed in front of rows of flashing cameras.
Then came the writers and directors; less papped, but often Â more interesting. Heat may not have been interested in what he was wearing, but I wanted a chat with the brain behind Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, who revealed some tantalising titbits about series seven and the Wild West theme of one particular episode.”Weâve got some great stuff coming up Â – some of them weâre keeping under wraps. Itâs quite hard filming a western without anybody knowing what youâre doing!”
DON’T leave us hanging Moffat, I pleaded, give us something. Twenty dictaphones descend, the pressure is on so what can he tell us? “Oh God, nothing. Itâs far too soon” he guffaws. The admittance that Smith “fancies himself as John Wayne but I think heâs possibly a little bit closer to Stan Laurel”, had to suffice. A kerfuffle down the line caused me to lose interest in these guarded responses. Maybe Heat have got it right, after all. Mark Wright had arrived wearing a sharp suit and a sexy attitude – Moffat was history and the dictaphones switched allegiance as Mr TOWIE described his heartbreak at leaving the series which shot him to fame.
Next to run the media gauntlet was Derren Brown who was, rather satisfyingly, dressed like a magician from the 1920s. To top that, the master of mind tricks fessed up to not actually owning a television – a fact which boggled my TV obsessed neurons. âI donât have a television so I never have any idea what any of the other shows are or who any of the people are that Iâm meetingâ?, he said. âItâs just a big, bemusing kind of fun night that I get to go to.â?
Glancing down at my âcheat sheetâ? of celebrity photos as yet another herd of âstarletsâ? floated past, I felt Derrenâs pain.
But Derrenâs mind-reading skills are obviously not what they used to be, âI never win these thingsâ?, he said, âitâs always Ant & Decâ?. Cut to Derren accepting an award for Best Entertainment Programme.
Derren had not prepared a speech (it was fairly obvious) and two other young go-getters who were happy to take an unconventional approach to speech-making were Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey. âFuck me this is brilliantâ?, exclaimed an excitable Tovey from behind a pair of beer goggles.
This pair had definitely taken advantage of the free booze…and they weren’t the only ones. Without the presence of TV crew and cameras, this really felt like a do which enabled its celebrity clientele to let their extensions down.
By 10pm, host Rob Brydon was spending more time shushing the crowd than he was cracking jokes as the gathered crowd of top TV talent continued to coif. There was whooping and cheering galore as yet another table celebrated victory in one of the 26 categories.
Even my partner in crime Anoosh Chakelian, and I, indulged in a bit of free vino and a few complimentary turkey salad rolls. And despite our initial annoyance at being seated above the celeb-filled table âpitâ?, left to circle the âslebs like iPhone wielding vultures, our spot turned out to be a fabulous vantage point. âOh look thereâs Mark Wright with his arm around that perennial tabloid favourite â The Mystery Blondeâ?, we cooed, craning our hack necks over the bannister to get a better look.
âAnd thereâs Tom Hollander! Is that beer or is he swigging straight from the wine bottle?â?. Rest assured, our dignity was at an all-time low as our eagle eyes went into overdrive, scanning the audience for noteworthy celeb spots and scandalous behaviour.
Aside from Caroline Flackâs hemline, the second biggest shock of the night came from Mummifying Alanâs triumph over David Attenboroughâs Frozen Planet. The jury congratulated the showâs producers on an âambitious, engaging, entertainingâ? programme, which featured a taxi driver sacrificing his body for the purposes of uncovering the truth about Egyptian mummification. Alan is currently installed in Londonâs Gordon Museum and will be âshownâ? the award today apparently.
Whenever I watch these shows on the tele and someone gets a standing ovation, I generally wish they would all just sit down and get on with it. The longer the ovation, the more âoverwhelmedâ? the recipient is allowed to be and it all gets very teary. But standing above an entire floor of applauding TV talent â producers, writers, directors and actors included â I now understand why these ovations exert such power. So, as Noel Edmonds ascended the stage for his part in Deal Or No Deal, the whole room leapt to its feet…not really.
Standing ovations were forthcoming for lifetime achievement award winner, Beryl Vertue – who had a hand in making such gems as Men Behaving Badley, Coupling, a remake of Upstairs Downstairs â and Judgeâs Award winner, Laura Mackie. Meanwhile I grew exceedingly jealous of the respect and warmth offered by the crowd and decided to become an award-winning TV producer.
As the reserves of wine stashed under our table diminished, gaggles of soap starlets began hopping into taxis and zooming off to exotic sounding bars. Others âjokedâ? that they would be retreating to a room in the Grosvenor with only a bag of cocaine and a few prostitutes for company. I was just relieved that the #tweetdrinktweetdrink iPhone touch screen mayhem was over and tried to spot where Gail Platt was headedâ¦