Absolutely Fabulous choice for BAFTAs

The EE Baftas have announced Joanna Lumley as their new host

It has been revealed the actress has been in secret talks over the past few months to replace Stephen Fry who claimed he stepped down last week after hosting for a total of 12 years.

And Joanna will finally be unveiled tomorrow morning by bosses, who will no doubt be breaking out the Bolly in celebration.

A source said: “Joanna is exactly what the Baftas needs.

“She’s classy, witty and a huge name which will be recognised around the world.

“The ceremony had gone stale under Stephen and it clearly needed a revamp.”

When asked by my reporter yesterday if Joanna was replacing Stephen, Bafta boss Amanda Berry said: “I can’t comment on that. All will be revealed tomorrow.”

Joanna was honoured with a special Bafta TV ­Fellowship last May in recognition for her screen career, which has spanned 50 years.

The award is the highest ­accolade bestowed by Bafta on an individual performer and has previously been won by DAME JUDI DENCH, DAME JULIE WALTERS and SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH.

Speaking about the     award, she said: “To be counted among the greatest talents and stars of our industry is an awesome gift.”

Joanna has also bagged three Baftas for her performance as the incredible Patsy Stone in Ab Fab, plus a special award for The Avengers.

I can reveal GRAHAM NORTON and JAMES CORDEN were also considered for the hosting job before bosses plumped for Joanna.

She’ll become the awards’ first female presenter since since ­MARIELLA FROSTRUP co-hosted with Stephen in 2001.

LENNY HENRY, RORY BREMNER, ANGUS DEAYTON and JONATHAN ROSS have all fronted the show previously.

I think Bafta chiefs have made an inspired decision which will signal a new era for the ceremony, to be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall this year.

The bash has dragged on in recent years and is plagued by the fact Bafta and BBC bosses refuse to screen it live for some reason.

But Joanna will make me sit through the ultimate luvvie fest again for another year.



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