The Fellowship of the Ring London Premiere

This is London
11 Dec 2001

An epic evening with Gandalf

No expense was spared for the party following the premiere of the movie adaptation of JRR Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings.

Two thousand guests were bussed to the party at a warehouse in Tobacco Dock after the Leicester Square premiere. The warehouse had been specially modified as a 100,000sq ft arena built by a dozen set designers who had been flown in from New Zealand to recreate Middle-earth in Wapping. This included elves serving medievalstyle food to guests, while they marvelled at how an almost three-hour film kept them gripped. Director Peter Jackson decided to bring the debut of the trilogy to London, saying: "We had workers from the US, and plenty of Kiwis, but the man who started it all was from Britain."

A mix of big names gave their verdict on the JRR Tolkien movie. And most said it would give Harry Potter a run for its money. Stars at the premiere included Hear'Say, Dougray Scott, Samantha Robson, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Graham Norton, Jane Goldman, Frank Skinner, Mariella Frostrup, Alexander McQueen, Mick Hucknall, Bob Geldof, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Paul Young, Ruby Wax and Richard E Grant.

Before the film, the stars were quick to say how well they thought it would do. Elijah Wood, who plays hobbit Frodo Baggins, said: "I felt we did a great job. We had ourselves branded with tattoos a week before the filming was ended. The marks we had done meant the nine members of the fellowship. It's Elven language for the word nine. We are really proud of the film."

Wood then added: "Of all of us who had to put on the moulded feet, I had the smelliest of all the feet." Christopher Lee, who plays renegade wizard Saruman - said: " We made three remarkable books into three remarkable films."

Mr Jackson commented: "I tried to make the best film that I could. I always thought the book was a bit scary - and I supposed the film is the same way. Honestly I hope that he [JRR Tolkien] would appreciate the integrity of what I was hoping to achieve. I don't, however, think he would be happy with everything we have done."

Sheffield-born Sean Bean, 42, who plays warrior Boromir, said: "I have really never done anything like this before - it's an amazing epic." Sir Ian McKellen - who plays wizard Gandalf - added: "It's a great remake, I have known about the huge following the film has had for the last few months through my website. Gandalf is an incredible character. In a way, he is the character that all wizards are based on. He has an iconic status. It is wonderful to be the embodiment of him." Celebrity fans had mixed reviews. Cliff Richard, 61, said: "It's a lot like Heathcliff. After the first two chapters, you really get into it."

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson said: "To be honest, the best bit was when I went to the toilet three times - and every time in there I met Liv Tyler [ who plays Elf princess Arwen]."

Hear'Say's Kym Marsh said: "I loved it when the wizards had their fight. I like a good fight." Noel Sullivan-of the band added: "My best bit was when the Orcs were fighting. Some people said it was a bit long - but I didn't get bored." Frank Skinner said: "It was all right. But it was a bit like Monty Python without the gags. Wasn't my cup of tea to be honest. Every time Enya music came in I found it hard - a bit grating."

Jemma Kidd said: "I read the book a year ago. It was as good as the book, which is quite something." Paul Young said: "I got a bit saddle-sore about 15 to 20 minutes from the end."

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