Emma Samms: A big night out on the red carpet

Emma Samms attending the British Soap Awards 2018 held at The Hackney Empire, London (c) Matt Crossi

Emma Samms attending the British Soap Awards 2018 held at The Hackney Empire, London (c) Matt Crossick PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

‘A dramatic wardrobe malfunction would be useful and a punch-up even better’

Last night I was down in London for the 2018 Soap Awards. I was there as part of the team representing the BBC drama Doctors which I’ve been appearing on for the past 6 weeks. I’d had such a lovely time working with all the wonderful people there so I was really pleased to be included on the Doctors team for the Soap Awards, even though I’d only held the title of ‘Guest Artist’.

As you can imagine, a major element of that sort of occasion is what I describe as a Glam-Off, with actors and actresses dressing to make an impact on the red carpet. Being a ‘Woman Of A Certain Age’ I wasn’t going to even try to compete with the many gorgeous, young actresses there so I wore a dress that kept me well-covered but sparkled nicely under the lights.

I was soon regretting the coverage and sequins though, as after we had done the obligatory walk and series of poses down the red carpet, we were guided into a room to await the live broadcast that can only be described as stifling. It was a beautifully designed space, a courtyard between two old buildings, now covered in glass, thus making it the quintessential suntrap. The weather yesterday was officially deemed a ‘scorcher’, so the room at 5pm was unrelentingly hot.

Fortunately, for the hour and a half that we spent in the pre-show holding pattern, there were numerous waiters drifting amongst us with a seemingly unending supply of cold Prosecco. Call me cynical, but I wondered if the producers were hoping that by the time we were live on air, anyone getting onstage to accept an award would be totally hammered. Any stumbles, swearing or inappropriate confessions would be guaranteed to garner considerable press coverage. A dramatic wardrobe malfunction would be useful and a punch-up even better.

Finally we were herded (what do you call a group of soap actors?) into the theatre and, to the relief of the ladies high-heeled feet, we were instructed to sit down in our seats.

As I watched the television production crew scurrying around making last minute preparations and the preternaturally calm host Phillip Schofield casually greeting members of the audience like old friends arriving at his house, I was reminded the two occasions that I’d attended the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Being an acquaintance of the director had afforded me an invitation into the production truck during the broadcast and I was fascinated to witness the safeguards they had in place to stop Oscar recipients gushing beyond their allocated 30 seconds of ‘thank you’s’. As I looked over the shoulder of the director and as he switched between the different camera angles and barked instructions into the camera operator’s headsets, I also saw what the winner was seeing in front of her as she made her speech. The large autocue screen that usually displayed the words read out by the hosts was now showing a numerical countdown from 30 seconds. When it reached zero, in large, unmistakable letters, it flashed the words “WRAP IT UP” repeatedly. And then, as the winner of that year’s Best Actress Academy Award was celebrating the highlight of her career and thanking her husband and children, the screen starting flashing “GET OFF”, GET OFF, GET OFF’. They don’t mince their word on a live television broadcast.

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Happily my show, Doctors, won two of the sixteen awards given out last night. As the only soap that airs during the day, with fewer cast members and a smaller budget than the others, it still manages to deliver engaging, heart-warming, humorous and informative drama every weekday lunchtime. As you can tell, I’m proud to have been a part of it. And our winners made dignified, timely speeches.

In fact, the entirety of the Soap Awards went very smoothly. Nobody succumbed to the effects of the pre-show inundation of alcohol. Nobody tripped, nobody swore, the speeches went without incident and no one made a fool of themselves.

I’m sure the producers were furious.

Follow Emma Samms on Twitter @EmmaSamms1 and Instagram @emma.samms.