HE brought the house down last year when, in a nod to Donald Trump’s description of Meryl Streep, he told the audience he was “looking at row after row of the most overrated people in the country”.
But as Stephen Fry exited gracefully as host of the Bafta film awards yesterday, he acknowledged that someone may have put the words in his mouth.
“I reserve especial gratitude for Ivor Baddiel and Phil Kerr, whose work on the scripts was so skilful it made people think I’d written every line myself,” said Fry, whose departure comes little more than a month before the awards ceremony returns to the Royal Albert Hall. His replacement has yet to be announced.
Fry said it “felt only right” to hand over the baton, having helmed the event 12 times.
“The mixture of glamour, glory, drama and – occasionally – embarrassment and hiccup holds a unique place in the British film calendar,” he said.
“I have especially loved watching the emergence of new young film talent behind and in front of the camera. But after so long a time I felt it only right to stand down and let others take the Baftas on to new heights and greater glories.”
Fry’s engagement to host last year’s awards surprised some after he faced a backlash for jokingly referring to the costume designer Jenny Beavan as a “bag lady”. She was, he said, “a dear friend” who got the joke.
Fry other famous bon mots include his description of the actress Gillian Anderson: “She’s utterly bilingual – she speaks fluent English and flawless American.”
He also said of Oprah Winfrey: “Her performance was so moving in The Butler, I almost gave mine the afternoon off.”