Baftas 2011: A right royal drama
- 14 February 2011
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
For the second year running, it was a character called George who brought Bafta glory for Colin Firth.
Last year it was grieving college professor George Falconer, in Tom Ford's American drama A Single Man.
This year it was stammering King George VI in Tom Hooper's The King's Speech.
The film won seven of its 14 nominations, and achieved the double whammy of winning both best film and outstanding British film.
It also marked the triumph of old media over new.
The King's Speech depicts a monarch's struggle to address his people through the fledgling mass medium of radio on the eve of World War II.
Meanwhile, The Social Network - about the formation of Facebook in 2004 - won three of its six nominations, including best director for David Fincher.
The only other film to manage three wins was Christopher Nolan's blockbuster-with-brains, Inception.
It had gone into the race with nine nominations, and emerged victorious for production design, sound and visual effects.
Given Bafta voters' past love of royal stories, The King's Speech dominance was no big surprise.
In the 1990s there were wins for The Madness of King George, Mrs Brown (with Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria), and Shakespeare in Love (with Dame Judi's Elizabeth I).
That same year in 1998 Cate Blanchett won for Elizabeth. At the 2006 awards, Helen Mirren's The Queen took the Bafta crown.
But there was other quintessentially British fare that came away empty-handed - such as Made in Dagenham, and Mike Leigh's Another Year.
Elsewhere, there were nil points for Danny Boyle's rock-climbing drama 127 Hours and David O Russell's boxing biopic The Fighter.
Other surprises? Perhaps the win for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as non-English language film, over the Oscar-nominated Biutiful.
The weather was suitably British too. As the press and public gathered on the red carpet outside the Royal Opera House, the rain tumbled down from dark grey skies.
The first major celebrity to arrive to a chorus of screams was Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the films.
But not even the presence of Grint, Emma Watson or JK Rowling - there to pick up the award for the Potter films' contribution to cinema - could summon up enough magic to stop the downpour.
Other things worth noting: Black Swan was nominated for 12 awards, and only came away with one - Natalie Portman as best actress.
Only six of this year's winners have won a Bafta before, including Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
Alice in Wonderland costume designer Colleen Atwood has won this category twice before for Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Chris Morris, winner of this year's outstanding debut Bafta for Four Lions, won in the short film category in 2002.
Inception's sound expert Richard King already has one Bafta for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).
While Roger Deakins, winner for cinematography for True Grit, has won twice before: for No Country for Old Men (2007) and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).
Where does this leave things for the Oscars in less than two weeks' time?
Colin Firth will again find himself up against his Oscar nemesis Jeff Bridges, but this year looks like it might be the turn of the Brit in the best actor category.
Firth admitted behind the scenes at the Baftas that he often bumped into Bridges, whether in lifts or on red carpets.
"We've started dreaming up possibilities of working together now," he said.
"You develop veteran status if you've done the red carpet before with somebody. It's actually very nice to see a familiar face because it's a slightly unreal experience... even if you've lost the damn thing to that person."
Firth added that he had a coping mechanism to deal with the endless awards speculation.
"I have developed a wonderful obliviousness to people quoting odds at me. It will do your head in, and we always know that odds are numbers and upsets happen."