Notebook: Anything for a bit of a do

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The Independent Online
LEICESTER Square, the Empire, outside in the crowd, waiting. 'What is it?' 'Much Ado About Nothing.' 'Oh, yeah.' Guests start arriving for the premiere, on foot and by limo. 'Who is it?' 'I can see him, but I don't know who he is.' Stephen Fry arrives, a walking sketch of seemly embarrassment at the hoots and recognition of the crowd. He stops for the cameras and television interview. 'There's Stephen Fry being really clever,' says somebody, amiably.

Sir John Mills arrives, and Lord Attenborough. More hooting. Blondes stepping out of limos, flicking manes and smiling with misplaced confidence. 'Who's that slag?' says somebody, amiably. Sir Peter Hall does not trouble the punters.

Ken and Emma arrive. Great cheering. No hooting here, no jokey reception. Ken and Emma have Respect. Emma sweeps over to someone in the crowd. Ken underplays the embarrassment at the attention rather more than Fry, but if it isn't genuine he's a very good actor. The tugging at the right earlobe is particularly effective. Inside, he tells his guests how much the cast, English actors and American superstars such as Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves had enjoyed making the film in Tuscany and drinking wine.

The Branagh Much Ado is a well- judged piece of transatlantic film- making, with nods to both the Western and Monty Python (Branagh's Benedick owes a lot to early Cleese), which makes itself punter-friendly by carefully and slightly sending itself up.

Afterwards, through more crowds, at Planet Hollywood they are serving champagne and burgers lanced with cocktail sticks. In a glass case on the wall are the knee and suction pads worn by Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice. In a corner is Richard Briers, who plays Leonato. He is an admirer of the American movie stars, who treated it all very seriously. 'They know how to stand still. We were dancing around a lot. If you catch me overacting, you'll know Denzel is near.'

Lord Attenborough was saying, 'Wonderful, wonderful'. Ken was circulating. Andrew Neil was down to his braces. The crowd was still outside. Richard Briers said it was time he was getting home. Planet Hollywood? 'Lovely, but a bit of a muddle,' he said. 'But then things are these days, aren't they?' Or, as Benedick/Branagh had put it, 'For Man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.'

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