Karen Herbert's Report from Behind the Barricades (with additional info from Anne)
It was in August 2001 that I joined the Bean Buffs. For the uninitiated, this is an internet chat group for fans of Sean. I decided to join this group as I was curious to see if there were likeminded fans out there, who appreciated this actor as much as I did. To my surprise, there was a group set up at Yahoo, who were just as crazy as I am about Sean.
When I joined the Buffs, I wanted to see if anyone knew when the London premiere of The Lord Of The Rings was taking place and if anyone was going. I wanted to go to watch the stars arrive, but I didn't want to go alone. I wanted to go with fellow Sean fans. Eventually it was confirmed that the film (now known as The Fellowship Of The Ring) was taking place on December 10th. As soon as I knew this, I booked the day off work, just to be sure that I could DEFINITELY be there!
In the week leading up to the premiere, I emailed Abbie. She lives in Cambridge, which is not that far away from me. She informed me about a couple of Buffs who were coming. On the Friday, Julie (from Leicester) told me that she'd be there. Then, the following day, Becci from Milton Keynes informed me that she'd be there too. We all decided that we'd meet outside the Hippodrome nightclub in Leicester Square at 13.30 on Monday. We swapped mobile numbers so that we could all contact each other on the day (where would we be without these?).
The BIG DAY arrived! I was really looking forward to meeting my fellow Buffs after chatting online to them for all this time. Oh yes and there was the matter of possibly seeing Sean IN THE FLESH!! Wahoo!! I originally woke up at 6.30 am and I thought "This is waaayyyy too early! Go back to sleep!" Which I did, eventually
I finally woke up 3 1/2 hours later, which I felt was far more reasonable! I needed a lot of sleep, as it was going to be a long day. I had my video set to record the various shows throughout the day, which had been advertised as showing reports on the film. I managed to get myself ready and at 11.30, I left home and made my way to my local train station. On the way, I had to stop off and buy a copy of Bella magazine for Nancy, as I'd promised her a copy. I then went to the train station and got my car parked.
Becci said that she was catching the train from Milton Keynes, which would arrive in Hemel Hempstead (where I live) at 12.22. Once the train pulled in to my station, I got onboard and looked for Becci. I sent her a text message and said that I was wearing a blue fleece jacket and that I was carrying Laura Jackson's biography on Sean. She said that she had a Sharpe novel. We managed to meet each other and found a seat. We chatted about Sean (naturally!), the Buffs and how we felt about the premiere. I also mentioned that I was going to see Sean open the Hall Of Fame for Sheffield United on December 21st.
Our train ended up at Euston Station in London and from here we made our way to Leicester Square. We were half an hour early, so we had a quick wander to the Odeon Cinema (where the premiere was taking place) and looked to see if anyone else was there. A small crowd of people were hanging around. We then decided to head back to the Hippodrome. I decided to take my Laura Jackson book out of my bag, so that we could be identified as Sean fans.
A few minutes passed by and a lady with curly hair, glasses and a European accent asked us: "Are you Bean Buffs?"
We replied that we were.
"Hi. I'm Gisela".
We introduced ourselves. A few minutes later another lady arrived. This turned out to be Abbie.
We then headed off to a café, which was opposite our meeting point and waited for Anne. Whilst we waited we had a few vital questions that we wanted answers to:
1) What would Sean be wearing?
2) Who would he bring to the premiere? Our money was on his two older daughters, Lorna and Molly.
3) More importantly, after missing an appearance on Saturday morning's SMTV due to illness, would Sean be at the premiere at all? This was the one thing we were all really worried about.
Anne eventually arrived about 20 minutes later and we all ate and drank. On first impressions, I found that these we all a very friendly bunch. We all got along great, which I think really helps when you're waiting around for hours together at a film premiere!
After we had finished at the café we headed off to the Odeon to see just how big the crowd was. Barriers had been put up at this point, which were there to protect the stars from the crowd (just like concerts). We all found a good spot and managed to get front row. Perfect for Sean spotting! We chatted for a while and I got my Laura Jackson book out again (she's getting such good publicity here!). A Belgian TV crew then spotted my book, and interviewed me. They asked me who I was waiting to see and if I had read the books. Afterwards, the others said how good I sounded. I wasn't convinced! I just said what I thought. Wonder if this'll be aired on Belgian TV?
A little while later Laurie arrived. We all introduced ourselves and she said that she knew my name, because she had outbid me on an item at E-Bay. I said that I didn't mind and was glad that she had won the Independent On Sunday (which contained an article about Sean), as I had spent too much money on E-Bay lately anyway.
The next two people to arrive were Sarah and Julie - who had driven down from Leicester and parked her car at Hendon station. The traffic on the motorway had been bad, so she didn't meet us until just before 17.00.
We were told that the stars were going to arrive at 17.30. That time came and went and no stars arrived at all!
It wasn't until around 18.00 that people started to arrive. The rest all seems such a blur, because I can't remember which celebrity arrived first! The cast of the film all seemed to get there at once. Elijah Wood got big screams from some of the girls in the crowd (I have to admit that he is really cute!). Christopher Lee also got a big cheer, as he is such an acting legend. Sir Ian McKellen arrived. Like the other cast members, he signed autographs, but his was the only signature that I managed to get. I was able to speak to him too. I said that I hope this film is a big success for him. Sir Ian is another one of England's acting legends and he seemed like a really nice man.
We saw various celebs arrive (Cliff Richard, Richard and Judy, Brain May, Graham Norton, Frank Skinner, Gianluca Viali). We knew when an important person was coming, because we could hear the roar from the people further down the queue from where we were standing.
It had been ages since the other cast members had arrived and we were saying to ourselves: "Where is Sean?"
The next thing I can remember is Becci and Gisela shouting: "It's HIM!!!"
My heart raced, my legs turned to jelly. I pinched myself. I was finally seeing Sean Bean, IN THE FLESH!!! Oh my God!!!!
He signed some autographs and I waved my Laura Jackson book.
Becci yelled "Sean!" and she managed to touch him (she'll never wash that hand again)!
Then he then got whisked away by the three ladies who were with him, to talk to the media.
I was disappointed that he didn't see my book, but at least I managed to see him, which is what really counts.
All I can say is that he looked as gorgeous in real life as he does on screen! He was wearing a fabulous new suit that was a grey/blue colour, along with a black shirt and striped tie. He looked stunning, but then again, this man looks stunning in anything, doesn't he?
We were all so pleased that we saw him. We hung around until 19.30 and by that time, mostly all of the celebrities had arrived, so we left and headed off to a bar for some food and another chat.
We had a round of drinks, then Julie had to leave, because she had to catch a train to Hendon followed by a 90 minute drive back to Leicester. Not long after Julie left, Becci said that it was time for her to leave. I went along with her, as Becci and I caught the same train to London and it was safer for the two of us to use the underground.
Meanwhile...back at the barricades...
Anne takes over the story:
Julie, Karen, Becci and Laurie all had to leave to get trains home and the four remaining - Sarah, Abbie, Gisela and me - hung on a bit longer and then decided to go back just to see if anything was happening and if we could get some of the posters and take some photos once the crowds had died down.
We met a lovely couple who were bemused by the crowd and asked me what was going on. Turns out they were from Yorkshire, and were in London on business and staying the night there because they had more meetings in the morning. They were thrilled to find out what was going on. They had left their colleagues in the pub and were just stretching their legs before retiring to bed. They both loved Sean (great Yorkshire lad) and she loved Cliff Richard too so they were both very excited. He said he would call out in his best Yorkshire accent to get Sean to come over....
All the posters were gone but plenty of
people were still there, and some of the guests were beginning
to drift out. We got a front row stand quite far from the main
door but whereas the stars had walked up the cordon on foot, now
the courtesy cars were backing up along the carpet route. John
Rhys-Davies got into the car in front of us, still telling us
how great the film was and why weren't we all in bed, etc. Sir
Ian McKellen did another walk about and signing session.
Then everybody came out in a big rush and it was hard trying to make sure we didn't miss Sean, but no chance. Lots of cheers again as he walked down, the opposite side from us, with his daughters Lorna and Molly. He was walking very protectively with his arm round Lorna's waist and holding on to Molly. He did stop for more autographs....
And our new friend from Yorkshire shouted, as he promised he would - on our behalf - and Sean turned and waved at us.
They were such a lovely, warm couple and their accents were brilliant (much like Sean!).
Safely home, Karen again:
I got home on such a buzz! I rushed through the front door and told my mum what had happened and who I saw. I then switched on the ITN News. The headlines came on there was a mention of the premiere. Hold on, there's Sir Ian McKellen signing autographs. There's Becci. Oh my God! THERE'S ME!!!!! On National TV!!!!! I heard my mum yell that she had spotted me (she was watching the TV downstairs). It's such a buzz when you see yourself on TV, but I have to say that thank God it wasn't a close up, because I looked dreadful!
I found that I'd had a parcel delivered when I was out. It was the Boromir action figure, that a friend in America had promised me!! My mum said that I shouldn't take it out of the box, seeing as these things are worth money in years to come. Fair point, but I want to do the "horn or sword" thing, as demonstrated on the Frank Skinner show.
It was lovely to meet the other Buffs and I hope that we can do it again soon. Hopefully, if the "Scottish Play" becomes a reality, then another Buffs meeting could well be on the cards.
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