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David Tennant says Bafta film awards will be ‘evening of generosity and joy’

David Tennant (Ian West/PA)
David Tennant (Ian West/PA)

David Tennant has said the Bafta film awards will be an “evening of generosity and joy” rather than stars being roasted when he hosts the show this weekend.

The Scottish actor, 52, will be helming the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre on Sunday, where Oppenheimer will be leading the pack with 13 nominations.

Tennant, who recently reunited with his Doctor Who co-star Catherine Tate for the show’s 60th anniversary episodes, teased that she could make an appearance with him.

Ahead of the ceremony, he told the PA news agency: “There are some wonderful famous examples, of course, of people making terribly near-the-knuckle comments and some very funny things that we’ve all enjoyed in previous awards ceremonies, that’s not probably my style anyway, and I know that’s not what Bafta are going for.

“We want to have an evening that’s a celebration and that won’t make people feel uncomfortable and won’t have people being roasted in any way, so it will hopefully be an evening of generosity and joy and a love for this industry that is one of the great success stories of this country.

“We’re very good at the arts. There’s lots of things that we we struggle with, but the arts is something that remains one of Britain’s greatest exports, so let’s celebrate it and enjoy that and trumpet it to the world.”

Tennant admitted he felt a bit “bewildered” when he was first asked to host, but then thought: “What a laugh, what a lark.”

“It just felt like an honour and a privilege to be asked to do something so august”, he added.

“It’s just nice to be on that side of it. It’s obviously thrilling for everyone who’s nominated and there’s so many exciting films to be celebrating, but also that’s pretty nerve-racking, I just have to stand up.”

Tennant, who has also starred in crime drama Broadchurch and fantasy comedy Good Omens, has previously presented as part of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day line-up.

He said hosting not being his normal day job has taken some pressure off of him, adding: “I sort of don’t have anything to prove, because this isn’t really what I do.

“It’ll either work and everyone will be terribly nice about it or it’ll be a total disaster and I’ll never be asked again. Either way – it’s fine.”

The actor revealed he was feeling “pretty relaxed” ahead of the show but thinks the prospect of it will become more “nerve-racking” in the lead-up to the big night.

Asked if his co-star Tate could make an appearance alongside him at the show, he said: “Listen, there’s nobody I enjoy working with more than Catherine, so who knows?”

In 2023 Tennant appeared with Tate at the TV Baftas to present the best features award to Joe Lycett VS Beckham: Got Your Back At Xmas.

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Catherine Tate (Matt Crossick/PA)

As the host, he said he was staying “entirely neutral” on who he thinks could win big at the award show but praised the level of talent in the world of film this year.

“It’s been a big old year, hasn’t it? And there was that Barbenheimer moment in the middle of the year where suddenly everyone’s talking about going to the cinema and being part of an audience,” he said.

“We’re bouncing back (after) the world went through a slightly weird thing, where we all locked ourselves in our house.

“Cinema, as with theatre, which is another area that is hugely important to myself and to the arts world, they are all about people having a collective experience and sitting in rooms together…

“And it took a minute and I think this is the year where that’s bounced back…

“You look at the the shortlist and there’s some extraordinary stuff on it, extraordinary performances and brilliant pieces of work, so it’s a great year to be hosting this event.

“It feels like a bit of a bumper crop and I feel like I’ve won a prize without being up for it or having to worry about that side of it.”

UK premiere of Oppenheimer – London
The cast of Oppenheimer, which has been received 13 nominations (Ian West/PA)

Last year the awards ceremony was hosted by Saltburn actor Richard E Grant and This Morning host Alison Hammond, and the year before by Australian actress and comedian Rebel Wilson.

This year, Christopher Nolan’s epic biopic about atomic bomb creator J Robert Oppenheimer leads the nominations with 13 nods.

The film, which was a box office juggernaut when it was released in cinemas last year on the same day as Barbie – sparking the Barbenheimer phenomenon – marks a crowning achievement for British filmmaker Nolan, who has never won the directing Bafta.

For the best film prize, Oppenheimer will compete against the gothic fairytale Poor Things, which scored 11 nods.

Notably absent from the category is Barbie, which was the highest-grossing film of 2023, with director Greta Gerwig also absent from the directing category.

Gerwig is, however, recognised in the original screenplay category alongside her husband and co-writer Noah Baumbach.

The EE Bafta film awards will be held at the Royal Festival Hall on February 18 and will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.