My Week: Amanda Berry, Development Director of BAFTA

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The Independent Culture

We are staging the 51st British Academy Awards on Sunday and as it is only six days away, we are all working flat out. It's a bank holiday for most of the country but I go to the office. Working on a bank holiday is bliss, the phones don't ring and for the first time in weeks there is a sense of calm in the office. But the dry cleaners is shut!

I ring my mum to wish her a happy birthday. She is going to be my guest at the awards so we have a long conversation about frocks, when she is going to arrive and who will be sitting at our table. By 6pm I can see the colour of my desk and my in-tray is only half full. I get home by 8.30 (a rare treat), catch up on last week's newspapers and lose myself in Nancherrow on ITV.


An interview I did last week appears in The Express and I get lots of calls from friends who realise how hard I have been working and why I haven't been in touch. Diane (my assistant) and I have the final production meeting with Peter Estall and his team at the BBC, who are televising the awards. I am able to confirm that Gwyneth Paltrow is definitely coming, with her parents, which is wonderful news.

I chair a production meeting for 50 people at the Business Design Centre in Islington, north London, our venue for the awards, to discuss all the arrangements. The build-up for the event has started and suddenly it all seems terribly real. I go back to the office to make the final arrangements for Elizabeth Taylor's arrival tomorrow. Elizabeth is receiving The Fellowship, which is the Academy's most prestigious award.

My daily diet seems to consist solely of Creme Eggs and biscuits and I still have not managed to pick up my dry cleaning.


Roberto Benigni has confirmed he will attend the ceremony which is terrific news. I spend the morning clearing paperwork and finalising table plans - that is, until they change again. I rush out at lunchtime to have my legs waxed - the things a girl has to do.

I get a message to say that Elizabeth Taylor has arrived in London which means all our plans worked. My in-tray is overflowing but I take a few minutes to reply to e-mails from friends who want to know how everything is going. As my situation is desperate, I beg them to send me some chocolate. I don't manage to leave the office until 11.30pm, by which time I have missed Film 99 with Jonathan Ross which is doing a big feature on the awards.


I finally remember to pick up my dry cleaning. I attend an early meeting at the Dorchester to discuss the press conference for Elizabeth Taylor. I then go up to the Business Design Centre which is really starting to take shape now, the ceiling has been blacked out with star cloth, and the huge gauzes on which we are going to project archive film clips are now in place.

I spend the afternoon signing off press releases. It is terrific to be able to sign off a release announcing that stars like Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Richard E Grant, Cate Blanchett, Jane Horrocks and Gwyneth Paltrow will all be attending. A huge Jiffy bag full of chocolate arrives from my friends.


I receive a copy of the BBC script, which I can't wait to read. I grab a cab to go over to the Dorchester for the Elizabeth Taylor press conference - it is absolutely packed. Then I go to the Business Design Centre where they are doing a piece about final preparations for the evening news. The venue looks amazing.

I then go back to the Academy for a dinner hosted by Kodak in honour of the nominees in the cinematography and editing categories. After the dinner I go back to the office for a while and finally fall into bed in the early hours of Saturday morning.