Judi Dench wowed thousands of waiting fans when she arrived for the glittering premiere of her latest film, The Importance of Being Earnest.
Not even the appearance of Rupert Everett on a Soho rickshaw could snatch the limelight from the screen legend who immediately rewarded the crowd with a quick walkabout last night.
Wearing a black trouser suit, with an orange scarf over the left shoulder, she immediately began to sign autographs and pose for photographs.
Dame Judi, who plays Lady Bracknell in the film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy of manners, smiled broadly as chatted to fans before turning her attention to the night’s main attraction.
After a few twirls for the media she made her way into the Odeon West End cinema, in Central London, followed closely by her daughter and co-star Finty Williams, who plays the young Lady Bracknell.
Other stars at the premiere included Frances O’Connor, who plays Gwendolen, Anna Massey (Miss Prism) and Tom Wilkinson, as Reverend Chasuble.
But Colin Firth (John Worthing) was filming in France and was unable to get away to be at the premiere - much to his fans’ disappointment.
Two of them, who travelled all the way from Belfast for a glimpse of their favourite actor, were particularly upset.
Students Elaine Magee, 22, and her friend Carly Coughlan, 21, had planned their trip to the premiere months in advance, rearranging flight times and arriving at the screening four hours early - only to be told Firth could not make it.
“I am absolutely gutted,” said Elaine, a student at Queen’s University, in Belfast. “I love Colin Firth so much. And he’s broken my heart.”
Ms Magee said she had admired the star since seeing him in Pride and Prejudice when she was 15.
“We are his number one fans,” she said. “I guess all we can do is go back home tonight and watch Pride and Prejudice one more time.”
Her friend Carly said: “Considering we have planned the last three weeks around this, we are really, really upset. But these things happen. We’ll be at his next premiere and we still love him.”
The film’s director, Oliver Parker, said he wanted to translate a “beautiful production” from the stage into the cinema, allowing film audiences throughout the world to revel in the brilliance of Wilde.
He said that it was necessary to take “a few risks” to reinvent the classic for film audiences – ensuring that it was not done “a disservice”.
Parker said he believed he had “captured the essence” of the theatre production to transform it successfully into a cinematic success.
“It’s all in the spirit of Wilde and I think that you have to be bold enough to take a few risks to make sure you don’t do it a disservice.
“One of the great privileges of doing this is to bring Wilde to the wider audiences.”
Tom Wilkinson was next to arrive, greeting fans, signing autographs and posing for photographs.
He said of the film: “Wilde is subversive and people like that. He’s a surrealist.”
His co-star Everett, who returned from inside the cinema on two occasions to the rapturous applause of the waiting fans, described the film as a “Carry-On”, saying: “It’s a really funny English story.”
Although he managed to grab much of the limelight, his date for the night, Jade Jagger, managed to attract a number of wolf-whistles from the crowd in a sexy bright pink figure-hugging outfit.
Other celebrities attending the glittering bash included Helena Bonham Carter, Ruby Wax and Angus Deayton.
The critically acclaimed adaptation was the first film produced by Ealing Studios for 40 years after it was bought by Barnaby Thompson.