The British Academy Film Awards (BBC1) **

AH, the Baftas. Better than the Golden Globes, not as good as the Oscars, essentially just another chance for Blighty to tell Hollywood that “The British are coming!” Even if they are travelling by ScotRail.

The 2019 ceremony took place at the Royal Albert Hall, scene of much Union flag-waving on the Last Night of the Proms, and it was pretty much the same last night.

Local favourite The Favourite, directed by a Greek auteur, Yorgos Lanthimos, was expected to win big, and duly snapped up award after award. Scotland’s contenders - Stan & Ollie (helmed by Aberdeen’s Jon S Baird), Mary Queen of Scots, and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here - were robbed in comparison. Ditto Richard E Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

A lot of effort has gone into glamming up the Baftas so that American stars will call in on their way to the Oscars on February 24. The A-listers were duly seated near the front, where the cameras could pick them out. No idea where Liam Neeson had been placed. Somewhere in Norway, probably.

Making her second appearance as host was Joanna Lumley, who wafted on stage in a white trouser suit. Now safe in the job, would she dare to take on the mantle of her predecessor, Stephen Fry, and rib the celebs mercilessly? Perhaps drop in a couple of off-colour jokes and be accused of dragging the Baftas into the gutter? No chance. Fry may have been in the gutter; Lumley was happy to look at the stars and gush at ‘em.

Stan & Ollie reviewed

The celebs, in turn, tried their best to laugh at her lame jokes with the same enthusiasm with which she was telling them. Alas, not even in the Royal Albert Hall last night was there enough acting talent to pull that one off. “What a masterstroke to call it The Favourite!” trilled Lumley at one point. “Next year there will be a film called, ‘And the Bafta goes to’.” Don’t give up the travel docs, Joanna.

Those who thought two hours wasn’t nearly long enough to watch beautiful people slap each other on the back had the option of going on YouTube from early evening to watch Anstruther’s Edith Bowman greet guests on the red carpet. With hours in the cold ahead of her, Edi had to make some smart wardrobe choices, which in her case seemed to amount to wearing every piece of clothing she had, plus gloves. The on duty royals were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, though the Sussexes might have been a better match, what with Meghan’s former job. Perhaps she was at home watching Netflix, her feet in the washing up bowl, as is the wont of ladies in her condition.

Should a Scots actor have played Mary Queen of Scots?

Lucky old Meghan. TV viewers had to sit through the usual endless round of clips and announcements. One drawback of the otherwise fabulous setting was that it took forever for the winners to reach the stage, by which time the right thing to do would have been to grab the award and skedaddle. As if. Have award, will prattle on was the order of the night. Even Spike Lee, winner of best adapted screenplay for BlackKkKlansman, merely read out a thank you list from his phone. Eddie Marsan tried a gag about Brexit and people living in the past, which was about as funny as, well, Brexit.

Hardly compelling viewing, but the Baftas prefer to play things safe, even if it makes for a tedious watch not worthy of a Sunday night prime time slot. Carry on like this and next year’s show won’t be on anyone’s list of favourites.