Awards season has begun and the rivalry isn’t just between the nominees. The Baftas have stolen a march on the Brit Awards by signing up Kasabian to perform, after the rock band was snubbed by the music industry’s annual showcase.
When Hollywood’s A-list stars settle into their plush seats at the Royal Opera House for Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, they will be entertained by a blast from the anthemic Leicester band, who promise an explosive opening to the evening.
There was widespread surprise when Kasabian failed to receive a Brit nomination ahead of next month’s awards. It followed a year in which they headlined Glastonbury, topped the charts and were voted the Best Band in the World Today by Q magazine.
In the battle for attention between the two competitive awards shows, held a fortnight apart, sharp-eyed Bafta producers asked Kasabian, famed for their riotous live gigs, to open the show for its black tie-clad audience of nominees and film grandees.
Katherine Allen of Bafta producers Whizz Kid Entertainment, said: “Kasabian are the biggest rock band of the year and they headlined Glasto. What better way to kick off the Baftas with a bang? We wanted something totally different this year.”
The profile of the Bafta awards has soared since it moved to a date preceding the Oscars, encouraging Hollywood nominees to walk the red carpet as they hustle for the attention of Academy voters.
Last year’s guest-list included George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Taylor Swift will play at the Brit awards but its star performers, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, may lack a little in glamour.
Baftas 2015 nominees
Baftas 2015 nominees
1/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Rosamund Pike plays over-achieving Ivy League graduate Amy Dunne in Gone Girl and is nominated for leading actress
2/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Michael Keaton (left) with Edward Norton in existential comedy Birdman - Keaton is up for leading actor
3/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Julianne Moore receives a devastating diagnosis as linguistics professor Alice Howland in Still Alice - she has been nominated for leading actress
4/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Benedict Cumberbatch is up for leading actor for his role as code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
5/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Reese Witherspoon has earned a Baftas leading actress nod for her adventurous role in Wild
6/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Jake Gyllenhaal in plays a creepy journalist in Nightcrawler and is up leading actor
7/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Amy Adams is nominated for leading actress for her role alongside Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
8/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Eddie Redmayne is nominated for leading actor for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything
9/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Felicity Jones plays Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde in The Theory of Everything and is up for leading actress
10/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Ralph Fiennes has a leading actor Baftas nod for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel
11/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Patricia Arquette has a Bafta supporting actress nomination for her performance in Boyhood
12/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
J.K. Simmons stars as an abusive tutor alongside Miles Teller in Whiplash
Sony Pictures Classics
13/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Keira Knightley is nominated for supporting actress for her role in The Imitation Game
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Imitation Game/downloaded from Papicselect
14/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Ethan Hawke has a supporting actor nod for his performance in Richard Linklater's Boyhood.
15/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Emma Stone is up for supporting actress for playing Sam in Birdman
16/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Mark Ruffalo is up for supporting actor for his performance alongside Channing Tatum in wrestling drama Foxcatcher
17/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Rene Russo is nominated for supporting actress for her role as Nina Romina in Nightcrawler
Chuck Zlotnick/© 2014 Open Road Films/The Hollywood Archive
18/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton star in Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman - Norton is up for supporting actor
19/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Imelda Staunton (centre) with Liz White and Nia Gwynne in Pride - Staunton is up for supporting actress at the Baftas
20/20 Baftas 2015 nominees
Steve Carell is nominated for supporting actor for his role as John du Pont in Foxcatcher
Serge Pizzorno, Kasabian's guitarist, told The Independent: “It’s a huge honour to open the Baftas because we’re all such great film fans. It’ll be a strange old show playing in front of a load of penguins but it’s going to be great.”
“We’re going to start the night off with a huge explosion. We’re going to play everything twice as loud. Half the people there won’t have a clue what is going on.”
Kasabian, victors at the 2010 Brits, believe the Baftas is now the more rock n’roll event. Pizzorno said: “It’s a conspiracy. They’re trying to shut rock and roll out of it [the Brits]. What sort of message does that send to working class rock and roll bands which the industry is in dire need of?”
“Kasabian couldn’t have done any more last year. It’s bulls***t really. It’s way more exciting playing the Baftas than the Brits.”
Last year Tinie Tempah performed at the Baftas, high-fiving the Duke of Cambridge in the front row. The film event has no qualms over encroaching on to the Brits’ territory. Ms Allen said: “Music and film go hand-in-hand. The Brits have actors presenting awards. The Baftas are all about supporting young British artists of all kinds.”
The Baftas, broadcast on BBC1 and the Brits, an ITV show, both recorded 4.6m viewers last year. However the real impact of the events is often judged by social media traffic and the column inches generated afterwards.
The Brits, shown live where the Baftas are time-delayed, is a much slicker spectacle these days, avoiding the famous disasters of the past. However some observers mourn the lack of Liam Gallagher-style unpredictability from the impeccably-behaved music stars of today.
Brits V Baftas
Venue: Royal Opera House
Presenter: Stephen Fry
Dress code: Black tie, designer gowns
Viewing figures 2014: 4.6m
Scandalous moment: Russell Crowe pinned a TV executive against a wall after his acceptance speech was cut short in 2002
Venue: O2 Arena
Presenter: Ant and Dec
Dress Code: Flesh, and lots of it
Viewing figures 2014: 4.6m
Scandalous moment: Jarvis Cocker’s Michael Jackson stage invasion, the Sam Fox/Mick Fleetwood presentation debacle, Chumbawumba dowsing John Prescott, etc