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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Pirates première myths plundered

by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Fans and media turned out in force for the European première of Pirates of the Caribbean in London's Leicester Square on Monday.

Premières are magical, mystical events where very important people bask in all the glitz and glamour the film world has to offer.

For those on the outside, waving autograph books and cameras in the air, that is - and should probably always be - the truth.

But for those on the inside, the truth is slightly less interesting.

Paul Ross
Paul Ross: Going for the "pirate cool" look
I had never been to a première - I had never been invited - but when the tickets for the Pirates of the Caribbean arrived, it was a chance to find out whether the myths held true.

The film's biggest star, Johnny Depp, was not there - but two British heartthrobs, Orlando Bloom ("Orli! Orli!") and Keira Knightley were enough to bring the crowds out in force.

The ranks of diehard fans were in position along the runway hours before the big names were due to walk up it, their numbers swelled by tourists wanting to see what was going on.

The invitations stipulated a dress code of "pirate cool" - two words that do not make much sense when put together.

So, with no idea about what "pirate cool" looked like, I bought a £1.99 plastic fancy dress pirate's hook and eye patch instead, safe in the knowledge that I would not be upstaging Orli.

Unfortunately, the hook was designed to fit a six-year-old and even then would not have been convincing.

I will forever be able to say that I was cheered at a West End première
But the eye patch did fit, although the effect was ruined slightly by the fact that I had to wear my glasses over the top to see where I was going.

"That's not pirate cool. That's pirate ridiculous," my girlfriend helpfully pointed out, warning that she might become my ex-girlfriend if I wore it in front of all those people.

But this would probably be my only chance to walk in front of a première crowd and, for some reason, I wanted to do something to mark myself out from all the other nobodies.

Even the lowliest of guests get to walk along the red carpet - except, in this case, there was no carpet, just a pavement pathway between the fans.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley
Orli and Keira shared a kiss outside the cinema
At the US première, they claimed to have had the longest red carpet in Hollywood history - and obviously had none left for London.

As we walked along the runway, crowds built up on either side until there were rows of eager, expectant faces waiting to have their lives made complete by one glimpse of someone famous.

And when we strolled past, just one thought was going through their minds: "Who the hell are you?"

One group of girls took mercy on me and my eyewear arrangement, giving me a cheer for effort.

Admittedly, it was only a brief "woo!" from a small pocket of fans, and was mixed with a pitying laugh.

But I will forever be able to say that I was cheered at a West End première.

The Office's Mackenzie Crook
The Office's Mackenzie Crook plays a pirate in the film
Once we reached the cinema, we wanted to wait to see the stars arrive - but a line of security guards were unflinching in their commitment to get us to our seats as soon as possible.

"Can we have some food first? Where is the bar?" we asked, expecting, at the very least, some booze and a finger buffet.

But we were swept straight through without seeing so much as a food kiosk. A free bottle of Robinson's Fruit Shoot and a small bag of popcorn were on every seat to make up for it.

At least we were in - and were able to watch the arrivals thanks to live coverage hosted by the radiant June Sarpong being beamed onto the big screen.

One by one, the D-list celebs began to arrive - from the Fast Food Rockers to a Footballer's Wife to Paul Ross, who had the same eye patch as me.

But no matter how many minor stars seemed enter the building, none ever seemed to make it into our part of the cinema hall.

The Fast Food Rockers
The Fast Food Rockers were among the celebrities who turned up
There was a balcony upstairs, and we suspected that all the slightly famous people were being ushered up there. They probably even had a bar.

The stars of the day - Orli and Keira - arrived last and were, of course, in the most demand with the crowd.

When Orli stepped out of his car with what looked like his mum and granny, we saw on the big screen that several hundred young girls simultaneously lost control of their bodily functions.

But the film could not start until he had finished working the crowd, and the more delighted the fans became by his dedication to the cause of autograph signing, the more impatient we became.

Whether they went upstairs or were whisked out to some fancy restaurant, we could not see
The big screen repeated clips about how the film was made - which was even more tedious than never-ending cinema adverts.

Finally, after more than an hour in our seats, the film's stars filed into the cinema and Sarpong appeared on stage to introduce them to the crowd.

But as soon as they had lined up like beauty show contestants, they were off again and filed back out.

Whether they went upstairs or were whisked out to some fancy restaurant, we could not see.

The film was a bit of an anticlimax after all that - but, as a barnstorming blockbuster with a fantastic performance from Depp, it was worth the wait.

Two hours later and with no invitation to the party, we filed out ourselves - and the fans were still there.

All with that same look on their faces: "Who the hell are you?"

Pirates storm London for première
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30 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
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11 Sep 02  |  Entertainment

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