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Bafta offers ‘deepest sympathy’ to royals as William withdraws from film awards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take their seats as they attend the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2017 (PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge take their seats as they attend the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2017 (PA)

The Duke of Cambridge has withdrawn from this weekend’s Bafta awards coverage following the death of his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh.

This year’s film awards will be handed out over two nights in largely virtual ceremonies, with presenters attending London’s Royal Albert Hall in person for Sunday’s broadcast.

William, who is president of Bafta, was due to feature on Saturday in a pre-recorded conversation with costume designer Jenny Beavan and make-up and hair designer Sharon Martin, talking about filming in lockdown and the craft of film-making.

On Sunday, he was to deliver a speech via video, celebrating the resilience of the film industry over the past year.

Bafta said in a statement: “In light of the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing, the Duke of Cambridge will no longer be part of Bafta programming this weekend. Our thoughts are with the royal family, to whom we offer our deepest sympathy at this time”.

Among the British contenders for awards this year are Daniel Kaluuya, Vanessa Kirby and Riz Ahmed, with Saturday’s craft awards airing on BBC Two in a ceremony hosted by Clara Amfo.

Actor, writer and director Noel Clarke will be recognised with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award on Saturday, during a show which will also feature a performance from supporting actor nominee Leslie Odom Jr, who will sing Speak Now from his film One Night In Miami.

The main ceremony on Sunday will be hosted by Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman, when the remaining 17 awards will be presented and director Ang Lee will be honoured with the Bafta Fellowship.

Presenters, including Hugh Grant, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Tom Hiddleston, will appear in person at the Royal Albert Hall, while nominees will appear virtually.

Road movie Nomadland and coming-of-age drama Rocks lead the diverse nominations, where four female film-makers are in the running for the best director prize.

Chadwick Boseman, who died aged 43 last August due to complications related to colon cancer, has received a posthumous Bafta nomination for his performance as an ambitious trumpeter in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Also nominated in the best actor category is Ahmed for his role as a drummer who loses his hearing in Sound Of Metal, as well as Adarsh Gourav for The White Tiger, Tahar Rahim for The Mauritanian, Sir Anthony Hopkins for his turn in drama The Father, about a man slipping into dementia, and Mads Mikkelsen for Another Round.

The nominees in the leading actress Bafta category are Bukky Bakray for Rocks, Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version, Kirby for Pieces Of A Woman, Frances McDormand for Nomadland, Wunmi Mosaku for His House, and Alfre Woodard for Clemency.

Female directors were entirely absent from the shortlist in 2020 but this year four of the six are women, with nods going to Shannon Murphy for Babyteeth, Jasmila Zbanic for Quo Vadis, Aida?, Sarah Gavron for Rocks, and Chloe Zhao for Nomadland, as well as Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.

Kaluuya is nominated for his role as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas And The Black Messiah, and he will compete against Leslie Odom Jr for One Night In Miami, Clarke Peters for Da Five Bloods, Paul Raci for Sound Of Metal, Barry Keoghan for Calm With Horses, and Minari actor Alan Kim, who is the youngest ever Bafta nominee at eight years old.

His co-star, Yuh-Jung Youn, is nominated in the supporting actress category, alongside Niamh Algar for Calm With Horses, Kosar Ali for Rocks, Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Dominique Fishback for Judas And The Black Messiah, and Ashley Madekwe for County Lines.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died aged 99 on Friday, became Bafta’s first president in 1959, one year after the British Film Academy and the Guild of Television Producers and Directors merged to create the Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA), a forerunner of Bafta.

He was also present at the official opening of Bafta’s headquarters in London, after he and the Queen gave their share of the profits from the 1969 documentary Royal Family to the SFTA.

The EE Bafta Film Awards Opening Night will air on April 10 at 9pm on BBC Two while the EE British Academy Film Awards will air at 7pm on BBC One on April 11.

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