Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Premiere Report Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Premiere Report * 15 September 2011


The first time an actor walks the red carpet, at the premiere of one of their films, it must be a daunting process. To know so many people there are exclusively waiting for you has to be thrilling and terrifying in equal measure. Flanking each side of the barriers are fans, press representatives and of course security. The cushioned flooring, surprising springy underfoot, glares back at you in bright scarlet, with the sound of the fans and press people shouting out names, blurring together into white noise. To experience all that and know it is for you? Unimaginable.

We arrived before the doors opened to the premiere of 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' a little before six in the evening. There was already a huge crowd gathered on the Southbank by this time, encasing the BFI. Many had been waiting since the morning and the fan pens were full, while the press pens were bulging with lots of security everywhere, on and off the red carpet.

Having shown our tickets, we made the long walk down the red carpet until we got caught up in the bottleneck produced by Gary Oldman and John Hurt's entourage, as the actors worked their way along. It is funny how there is congestion in London no matter where you are! The champagne was certainly flowing when we got inside the BFI and spent the next hour at the reception, sipping from our glasses and helping ourselves to the constant stream of 'mini works of art' canapés, being offered around by the catering staff. Those invited seemed very excited by the film, a sentiment echoed by those we spoke to from Studio Canal UK after the event. It was easy to get caught up in the atmosphere, all the while listing to the accompanying soundtrack of what was going on outside while cast and crew from the film arrived in turn.

Although we were not witness to this, we understand from friends that Colin Firth was determined to sign autographs for as many people as possible and Tom Hardy was "just lovely", signing autographs also and posing for pictures. Benedict spent much of the time with the media having his photo taken and recording interviews.


Finally it was announced that we should take our seats. We were surprised to find we had really good seats, sitting in the second row of the small cinema. Each guest had a film tie-in copy of the novel by John le Carré and a drink and snack waiting for them. The presentation before the film ran a little later than expected, but only by ten minutes and when all things were considered it was only to be expected. The head of Studio Canal UK took to the stage first, before being joined by the producers who said a few words, eventually followed by the scriptwriter and director. Then came the introduction of John le Carré himself.

He was a fascinating speaker, very confident, and discussed the journey from the book to television series, and now finally the big screen in some depth. He was clearly very pleased with the resulting adaptation of his book and described it as not "the film of the book, but the film of the film." He was also very happy with the 'George Smiley' casting choice, pointing out that the difference between Gary Oldman and the previous Smiley of the television series (Alec Guinness) was when "Alec kissed someone you would tend to blush", where when Gary did so, you could really feel the emotion behind it.

Finally, the cast were introduced and one by one they entered through a side door as their name was announced. As you can see from the photo below taken on our phone, we really were very well placed. The cast members lined up directly in front of us so we couldn't have wished for a better view. Most looked a little awkward to be stood on stage, no doubt in the absence of a script to be acting out, and it was only Gary Oldman who made a brief speech, ending with the fact that he didn't want to "waffle on too much" which I'm sure no one would have minded.


The cast and crew took their seats after this, interspersed throughout the cinema, and the film began. It is rather a strange feeling to be viewing the work of those who are sat watching it along with you, and we were surprised that they all remained throughout the entire film, considering the Venice World Premiere was only the week before. It was very evident that all who were involved are immensely proud of it though, and quite frankly, they have every right to be. It is truly an extraordinary film and our review of it can be found here.

The film concluded to huge applause and everyone remained seated until the credits had finished, which also earnt a second applause as the lights finally went up. On our way out we followed other members of the audience and a couple of cast members up the stairs. One of which was Benedict who was sitting behind us a couple of rows back. We entered the foyer of the cinema, which by now was a buzz of activity. Benedict stopped to speak with his parents and girlfriend, while other cast and crew also mingled. We in the meantime, made our way out of the building into the now quite chilly night air.

Despite the cold, there were still many people still waiting behind the barriers for members of the cast to come out. At first all you could hear was, "Gary! Gary!" but then when Benedict appeared he was greeted with many fans shouting his name.  His family stood by us while he went over to the barriers and took the time to sign many autographs and posed for photos for his patient fans, presumably as he hadn't had much time to do so earlier in the evening.

That done it was now time to head off to the premiere party, which was being held at the 'Skylon' on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, a little further down the Southbank. Many people who had attended the premiere were making the short walk to the venue but as Benedict walked with a minder many fans continued to catch up with him for more autographs. He obliged each one, accompanied with a smile.

Being the 'Sherlock' fans we are, we of course couldn't help but be amused at the fact that he was walking right passed the skate park and one of the London filming locations used in Series 1. Some of you may recall the scene in 'The Blind Banker', when Raz shows Sherlock and John the graffiti he found in the same Michigan Zinc spray paint, Sherlock was trying to identify? That scene was filmed at that very skate park (see below image.)


One thing that struck us though was that Sherlock really was nowhere to be seen in the Benedict we saw that night. The gulf between the actor and the character is certainly quite extreme. It's usually easy to see how some fans could be persuaded into thinking there are some similarities between an actor and the character they play, and no doubt in some cases this is true. For a character actor such as Benedict however, always having chosen many varied and apposing roles in his career, it is hard to recognise him as the actor who plays Sherlock at all sometimes, when he is not wearing his hair as Sherlock does or in the character's clothes.

It was past 10pm when we continued on to the 'Skylon' and the party by now was in full swing. We showed our invitations at the door and made our way in and up the stairs, at which point coming to a standstill at yet another bottleneck (we British do love to queue, that's for sure). While standing waiting our turn at the back of the queue we heard an unmistakable, not to mention very deep voice, resonating up the stairs. Soon Benedict was there, stood directly behind, queuing along with us and chatting away with his guests. It rather felt like the sort of random thing one might dream rather than something that happens to a person in real life; queuing to go into a bar with Benedict Cumberbatch standing behind you!

The temptation was great to turn and say hello but he was in deep conversation and you wouldn't normally interrupt a stranger in such circumstances. Once we all had arrived at the bar, he was quite the gentleman handing out champagne to each of his guests. They headed off in one direction and we in the other proceeding to the centre of the room.

It is quite a surreal feeling to be standing in a spectacular floor-to-ceiling windowed bar, overlooking a panorama of London's skyline, with John le Carré sitting down beside us discussing his novel, John Hurt chatting on the left and Tom Hardy across the way. Now, we don't want to sound star struck, and it wasn't the fact that they were famous actors that made it surreal, it was seeing them away from the fans and press and being pretty much 'off duty' to a certain extent and enjoying their evenings. We were able to witness that which a fan normally would not be able to and what makes it so important for us to be able to share this with our readers who on the whole, like us, don't usually get to experience events such as this. It certainly was a real insight into what goes on beyond the fan barriers and security barred doors.


It wasn't long before we discovered we were standing next to Benedict again, despite the fact we hadn't moved, as he chatted to the group around us who he obviously knew. We exchanged smiles with him and then spoke to a few other people who were there and involved in the filming. They of course all had humorous stories to tell during their time working on it.

It was a pleasure as always to see Benedict and it was a privilege to see him away from a working environment where we normally would see him, whether that be during filming, on stage or speaking with fans at a stage door. We must say, he certainly seemed in good spirits throughout the evening with his family by his side and new girlfriend Anna James on his arm, who is absolutely stunning incidentally! She had been at the 'Sherlock' filming in North Gower Street during one of the days of the riots and having seen them together on both occasions they certainly make a handsome couple. Not to mention a very tall couple. Although we're sure a lot of his female fans out there were a little disappointed by the news he is now spoken for, it would be hard to feel jealous when confronted by two people clearly very happy.

When we left, we passed a troop of waiting Mercedes with 'Tinker Tailor' notices on their dashboards, presumably to take 'the important people' home as they left. It really was a wonderful evening and 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' is really an exceptional film. We feel very lucky to have attended the event and would like to thank Studio Canal UK for inviting us along. It was certainly an evening to tick off the 'Bucket List' that's for sure.


Premiere photos by Dave Hogan and Ian West. 'Sherlock' screen capture is the property of the BBC and Hartswood Films Ltd. 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' screen capture is the property of Working Title Films and Studio Canal.