‘A century ago, the suffragettes laid the groundwork for this dogged resistance’

Joanna Lumley gave a nod to the Suffragette movement in her opening BAFTAs speech, but it divided opinion...

Last night saw the 2018 BAFTAs, with the film awards held this year at the Royal Albert Hall, and hosted by Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley.

Following in the footsteps of the Golden Globes and the Grammy awards, the BAFTAs became a platform for political protest, with attendees using everything from their red carpet appearances to on-stage acceptance speeches to call for change, with particular focus on the Time’s Up movement.

Much like the 2018 award shows before it, women wore black to symbolise Time’s Up, with Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer calling for change on the red carpet, announcing ’There is no going back now.’

Host Joanna Lumley opened the night with a powerful statement about the watershed year for women, something that was heavily praised – especially after she vowed to steer clear of political commentary.

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‘We are coming to you from the ravishing Royal Albert Hall, bursting at the seams with history, and a place that exactly 100 years ago, hosted a historic event celebrating the first group of British women being given the vote,’ she announced to the audience. ‘A century ago, the suffragettes laid the groundwork for this dogged resistance and powerful protest that is carried forward today with the Time’s Up movement and with it the determination to eradicate inequality and the abuse of women the world over.’

After speaking about the Time’s Up movement, the 71-year-old host went on to introduce each of the BAFTA nominees, starting with huge praise for Gary Oldman – a controversial choice given that the Darkest Hour actor is surrounded by domestic abuse allegations.

‘Gary’s performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour is the latest addition to an already phenomenal body of work,’ Joanna announced to the audience.

Unsurprisingly, her words divided public opinion, with many viewers taking to Twitter to voice their thoughts.

‘Everyone applauding for Gary Oldman and Joanna Lumley praising Times Up within the same 2 minutes is, shall we say, hypocritical’, tweeted @playbill, with likeminded viewers explaining, ‘Every time Gary Oldman wins an award, the #TimesUp movement seems to mean less and less’.

Others however were thrilled with the recognition, with @AutumnOnVenus taking to Twitter to post: ‘Joanna Lumley makes an opening speech about the times up movement and the abuse of women, then goes on to praise Gary Oldman, I wish this kind of support would rub off on Johnny Depp. Allegations do NOT mean guilty. Thx Joanna for recognising his talent.’

If there’s one thing that everyone at both the awards and at home agreed on however, it is that time is definitely up.

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