“Roma” was the big winner at the 2019 BAFTA Awards after taking home the prizes for both Best Director and Best Picture, but it was host Joanna Lumley who had people buzzing the most after the ceremony. The English actress was named the “worst host in BAFTA history” by UK publication The Guardian following an opening monologue that bombed with the audience. The Guardian reports many of Lumley’s jokes resulted in total silence from the BAFTA audience.
“If you had witnessed it, you would know that anything would be better than having her as a host,” The Guardian’s BAFTA notes read. “A tin of paint would be better. An exploded horse would be better.”
One of Lumley’s jokes that bombed the hardest was made toward Glenn Close, nominated for Best Actress for her role in “The Wife.” Lumley joked, “A lot of men here have already moved on to the sequel, The Second Wife.” Lumley’s “BlacKkKlansman” joke was even more of a dud and received widespread criticism for joking about the Ku Klux Klan: “It’s an incredible film, it has already won many awards. I’m surprised that it did so well at the Klan film festival.”
Lumley’s opening was so poorly received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts edited out all of the jokes that didn’t land with viewers when uploading the monologue to its official YouTube page. The actress received near universal pans for her hosting duties, with UK publication The Telegraph adding, “Joanna Lumley flops in a shambolic, squirm-inducing luvvie-fest.” However, many reporters have noted Lumley is not first and foremost a comedian and that the big issue with her hosting stint was the joke writers.
Popular on IndieWire
The BAFTA hosting fiasco aired just a few weeks before the 91st Academy Awards is set take place without a host for the first time since 1989. Watch the edited-down version of Lumley’s monologue in the video below.