Glitzy Awards Ceremonies: A Second Year’s Experience of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards

Don't be late.

Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, Friday October 7, 2011.

Yes, it is now three weeks ago, but life got in the way of reporting back…  Here we go:

Following a convivial meeting with Adrian Dawson, the author of the successful Codex and Sequence novels, at a ‘posh’ pub in Mayfair, we walked the short blocks to the Grosvenor House Hotel for the main event of the night.  We queued – as you do – and then bolted across the black carpet when given the nod.  (Well, I bolted.  Not sure about Adey.  He may have posed.)  Finally in the venue room, it was time to seek out the seating plan, find our tables and avail ourselves of the champagne at the reception as the room filled with people.

One of the first people I spotted arriving in the room was all too recognisable to me.  He’s an actor whose talent I admire.  But given the posts I’ve put up here recently on The Body Farm, I thought it best to avoid any potential eye contact with Keith Allen (aka DI Hale of the Peripatetic Squad/the locum DI).  This proved easy as he headed to the front tables of TV land, with yours truly remaining at the back (in the ‘spectator-cum-audience-acoustics’ zone).

As with last year, I managed to locate and speak to most of the shortlisted authors for the John Creasey, and to wish them luck.  Sadly, I didn’t locate this year’s eventual winner, S J Watson.  But I did make up for last year, spotting Diane Janes who had escaped me last year.  Having read their novels and having been a judge for the award, I do like to say hello, for these are authors with a fantastic future ahead of them and I hope we get to read much more from all of them.

Twitter is good for connecting people.  I saw someone I was sure I knew by sight and it turned out to be Emlyn Rees who recently hit the thriller market with Hunted.  We’ve had the wave of Tartan Noir and the tsunami of Irish crime fiction, but I do feel that 2011 has seen another tide-in-progress gathering pace: the Welsh are finally arriving.  It may be slow, a bit of a stealth move even, but it is happening and I will write on this specific topic later on the blog.

At 7pm, the doors were to close for two hours of filming and we were warned that it was best not to move  about or leave during that time.  This prompted a quick dash to the ladies, but where was it exactly?  I asked an attendant who directed me ‘Up the steps, through the doors and ahead of you’.  Simple, eh?  I rushed on.  The problem arrived on opening the doors as I was faced with the ‘black carpet’ again, loads of lights and cameras ahead to the left, loads of badged people and lights to the immediate right.  But not to worry, to my side at the door was a man in a suit with a good haircut.  He seemed quiet and outside the proceedings, so, thinking he was possibly ‘with the hotel’ I blurted out ‘Excuse me, do you know where the ladies is?’  He replied with ‘I’m sorry I don’t know, perhaps you could ask…’, pointing to a woman on his right.  She then directed me forward through the lights to another door.  As I stepped forward, ready for another dash, I turned back to face the man head on and my tongue got the better of me again.  ‘Oh, are you David Baldacci by any chance?’  And er, yes he was.  ‘Oh I’m so sorry, I hadn’t realised.’  He was most gracious.  So girls, if you ever want to ask the ‘wrong man’ the way to the ladies, I thoroughly recommend David Baldacci, author of some rather superb legal thrillers.  In honour of his assistance and in light of recent political affairs, we’ve ordered some new business cards for him, here at It’s a crime.

Back at the table, it was then time for the filming.  Obviously, the main excitements of the night for me were the writing awards.  It was lovely too, to hear and feel the crowd’s reactions to those awards.  This was not a night for the writers to be acknowledged quietly.

When it came to the TV side, The Killing was anticipated to feature greatly due to the number of nominations and it won various categories as might be expected.  The TV Dagger, being an award for home-produced drama was a source of some tension and it went to Case Histories from the novels of Kate Atkinson and enjoyed by many.  This led to a VT of Jason Isaacs all the way from LA as he was filming there.  The actor category also stayed at home with Idris Elba picking up the award for Luther.  (Another treat for the night, for the ladies.)  But I think so many were pleased to see The Killing pick up awards for International TV, Actress (the wonderful Sofie Gråbøl), and Supporting Actress (the superb Ann Eleonora Jørgensen).  Again, the Supporting Actor stayed at home with Rafe Spall bagging that Dagger for his role in The Shadow Line.  I have to admit that I didn’t manage to stick with that series – too slow and over-stylised for me – but from what I caught of Rafe Spall he was convincingly scary as a true psychopath.

The likely face of anyone who worked on Zen. (Mine too...)

Later, when the filming was over I found myself outside and not so very far away from three actors from The Killing: Lars Mikkelsen (Troels Hartmann); Ann Eleonora Jørgensen (Pernille Birk Larsen); Bjarne Henriksen (Theis Birk Larsen).  Having enjoyed that series so much, I felt the urge to tell them so and then I acted upon that urge, just like a teenage, gushing fan.  They were all lovely and we had a wonderful conversation about what made The Killing such good TV viewing.  I think the whole team was amazed by and very appreciative of such a reception in the UK.  And yes, ladies, I stood right next Troels.

On the way back in I repeated this process when I bumped into Kierston Wareing.  I believe she is an actress to watch.  She’s now graduated from the Martina Cole series and crossed the tracks into the ‘good’ zone playing a copper in The Shadow Line.  She’s also been on our screens in the last year with guest appearances in Scott & Bailey and Luther.  Wareing was rather sweet and certainly appreciated a stranger corralling her and telling her how much they admired her work.  By the time I went home, I really was feeling like a teenager all over again.

Still reading?  I bet you’ve worked out some time ago that I forgot to take any pics on the night.  But for some fun I will leave you with two interviews from Digital Spy.  The first is with the cast of The Killing and the second is a round-up of attendees’ favourite on-screen detectives.  Enjoy.

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