Love was absolutely all around us. In a flashback to James Corden and Daniel Radcliffe in 2008, knights of the realm Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen kissed and embraced onstage as part of their joint acceptance speech for Theatre Event of the Year for their pairing in Waiting for Godot - with McKellen’s current Godot co-stars Roger Rees (who has taken over the role of Vladimir from Stewart), Matthew Kelly and Ronald Pickup looking on.
The romantic moment came after McKellen helped raise more than £1500 in a raffle for this year’s adopted charity, Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass, in which prizes included tickets to Waiting for Godot and his own voice on a personalised voicemail recording.
Amongst the other winners, there were touching speeches – and tissues at the ready – from Jodie Prenger, Diana Vickers, Patina Miller, Oliver Thornton, Miriam Margolyes and Trevor Nunn, an a capella acceptance from the cast of Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, a finale sensation care of Jason Donovan, Tony Sheldon, Oliver Thornton and the Priscilla Queen of the Desert company in full Gumby regalia, and video acceptances from Jude Law, Rowan Atkinson, John Barrowman and Derren Brown.
There were also double act delights from co-hosts Christopher Biggins and Mel Giedroyc - not least a Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream” impersonation from Biggins in drag, Giedroyc storming out of the auditorium in mock outrage at New Boy losing to Calendar Girls for Best New Comedy (collected by author Tim Firth and star Lynda Bellingham) and a backstage cake fight – and performances from past winners Leanne Jones, Ryan Molloy and Sally Ann Triplett in celebration of ten years of the “theatregoers’ choice” awards.
Amongst the other winners, nominees, performers and VIP guests in attendance along with the sell-out audience of theatregoer voters were: Hannah Waddingham, Alison Steadman, Alistair McGowan, Amanda Drew, Carol Macready, Charlotte Wakefield, Clive Carter, Daniel Crossley, David Dawson, Fiona Shaw, Gabriel Vick, Hannah Waddingham, Jane Horrocks, Jez Butterworth, Johanna Town, John Shrapnel, Kate Fleetwood, Lesley Garrett, Maureen Lipman, Mark Henderson, Michael Wynne, Nicholas Hoult, Peter McKintosh, Roger Allam, Rupert Goold, Samantha Spiro, Charlotte Wakefield, Nancy Sullivan, Michael Xavier, Siobhan McCarthy, Stephen Carlile, Mazz Murray, Anna Jane Casey, Lucy May Barker, Adam Ellis, Gina Murray, Emma Kershaw, David Horovitch, Daniel Evans, Loui Batley, Lucy Bailey, Dougal Irvine, Robyn North and Imogen Stubbs.