Lindsay de Paul experienced some terrible evenings in local cinemas, so can’t stand them. But she was astonished when she was invited to join a BAFTA panel in Princess Anne Theatre, London

Lynsey de Paul:
Lynsey de Paul

Like millions of people, I love film. Almost every genre except ‘big action-packed, little-dialogue, pyrotechnic FX’ films. However, for a variety of reasons, I find local cinemas are not always a great way to experience them. My favourite cinema is the Princess Anne Theatre, in London.

Why I can’t stand local cinemas

First of all, most non-West End cinemas have bad rakes. So my being small means I am often forced to rock left and right either side of someone’s head in front of me to get any kind of view.

Then, of course, there are the people seated directly behind slurping milkshakes and crunching popcorn. They forget they are in a public place and believe they are inaudible when talking loudly to each other. These people I would gladly thump, together with those who kick the back of my seat.

A terrible experience in a small multiplex

Some time ago, I went with friends to a small local multiplex in London’s Swiss Cottage. We sat down to an overwhelming smell. The manager said someone had spilled their milkshake a few days earlier and that they’d not had the authority to call in the steam-cleaners. I had my doubts that that was the origin of the smell and wondered if I should call in health and safety. Instead, I asked for my money back, leaving my friends there. They obviously were less sensitive in the olfactory department.

Then, the BAFTA theatre

I was spared a life of film-going misery when, to my great delight and privilege, one year, I was invited to join a BAFTA panel to judge the music chapter for the up and coming Awards. Having written incidental music for TV and film and several TV themes – one of which won an Ivor Novello Award – I applied for membership and was accepted.

The Princess Anne Theatre, BAFTA, Piccadilly, London W1
The Princess Anne Theatre, BAFTA, Piccadilly, London W1

The Princess Anne Preview Theatre is a wonderful way to see film. To be able to watch in a theatre with a decent rake, and be enveloped in large, wide seats, with no talking or food and drink allowed inside, and to view it with one’s professional peers, who are all experiencing the film on so many levels other than just superficially, transformed my experience. In that kind of environment, you can be drawn in and all reality is suspended.

BAFTA also shows films that might not be so widely-screened, such as foreign language and other smaller films. It gives young filmmakers opportunities they might not otherwise enjoy. From time to time there are Q & As with directors and actors involved in a new release, giving an insight into how the film was made and by whom. It is a great honour to attend these evenings, which also serve as an educational tool for the industry.

Read also: Mark Mardell‘s favourite cinema

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