On Sunday night, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane opened its doors to the 56th Variety Club Showbiz Awards. While guests tucked into the green tea, crème brulée and petits fours that ended the three-course dinner, an auction to raise funds for the children's charity hit the heights as James McAvoy won an Apollo 11 presentation signed by Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, for £10,000. One raffle-winner, Sir Ben Kingsley, generously returned his year's membership to the 25 Club to be auctioned.
Gibraltar pianist Aaron Monteverde treated guests to one of his flamenco-flavoured compositions. Later the crowd enjoyed an opera recital by Classical Performer of the Year Hayley Westenra and a lively appearance by the cast of Hairspray.
Michael Caine was given a standing ovation as he picked up his Outstanding Contribution award to the tune of "Simply the Best". He praised his wife Shakira "for being married to the same actor for 36 years". Caine won the New Talent award many years ago; this time it went to Colin Morgan, 22, star of the BBC television series Merlin.
After the audience watched a clip of McAvoy in Wanted, the Scottish star thanked the Variety Club "for using a clip on which I spit all over my face". The reason for his Film award? "Probably the amount of blows I took to the head."
The awards will be broadcast on Sky1 at 5pm on 30 November
I shall post all of Hayley's part in the show early tomorrow evening. I predict that Hayley will appear in the actual show just after the 2nd set of adverts, about halfway through but look out for her in the audience too!
Have I missed anything? Oh yes, if the highest quality h.264 codec version won't play after downloading, you need VLC Media Player and/or a codec bundle such as FFDShow! H.264 is simply the most efficient video codec out there... better than normal DivX.
There is a huge difference in quality between the highest quality version and the "Song only" on YouTube. Sound quality too! Song only is useful, since I can rip it to a CD to play in the car. I really need that video editing software! Then I can enjoy the better sound quality.
Well done, Dave, you serve us very well (the Variety Club broadcast). I'm one of those who believes that it is an ill wind that doesn't blow someone some good. I believe Hayley may think similarly. In this case it is the timing of the ill wind that has blown in her direction. She gained the exposure necessary at the right moment. She was there for that event, she was there for the Remembrance event in the Albert Hall. All essential 'general' exposure which she needs. Yes, she is probably emotionally devastated at the cancellations but will probably try and console herself with thoughts like these: I have the voice that got me here. I have the family that put me on the road and is still there when I need them. What are my problems compared with the child whose only dream is a clean cup of water? Her response was interesting in that she hoped to be available to the Variety Club in future for their charity work. I suspect, given a little time to pace herself, she will be happy to be available for them.
She has often said she felt she 'had it easy' which is why she was prepared to act as curtain warmer to Il Divo and her long-term response will be 'we all have our crosses to bear' and this is mine.
Her eyes were the blue of cornflowers that dance amongst ripening wheat, Her hair the colour of golden sands bleached by summer's heat.