[Editor's note: this story was written at almost 6am, after a night of furious transcription. So apologies if it bears scant resemblance to the English language. Just getting that out of the way first]

London's Guildhall plays host to the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards
The stars were out in force at London's amazing Guildhall tonight for the 10th annual Sony Ericsson Empire Awards 2005, coming from glamorous locations around the world LA, New Jersey, Hackney to eat, drink, be merry, and celebrate the very best of movies from the last 365 days (was last year a leap year? Make that 366 days). And boy did they celebrate on an amazing night that some pundits namely, Empire are calling the best Sony Ericsson Empire Awards yet.

So here's your full blow-by-blow account of the night, folks. Warning: this contains scenes of uncensored back-slapping that some readers may find offensive.

3pm: Arrive at the Guildhall, a vast, cavernous art gallery which looks like Hogwarts on the outside and like Hogwarts on the inside, amazingly. With a couple of hours to kick back before the celebs arrive, Empire spends the time composing love letters to Naomie Harris (sadly absent on the advice of her lawyers), mulling over waistcoat/tie configurations and getting hopelessly lost in the building's winding catacombs. Apparently, all we needed to do was follow the signs who knew, eh?

4pm: With our Helen "L'Oreal" O'Hara ensconced in make-up (she will later emerge looking like a painted hussy), we kick back and watch the dress rehearsal of the show, with Johnny Vaughan in particularly playful mood, bantering his way through a number of small technical glitches with aplomb. One gag, in particular, leaves Empire and Vaughan in stitches, but it's best not to repeat it here on the grounds that we'll all be arrested. Empire's James Dyer and Chris Hewitt try out their new walkie-talkies with which, ostensibly, they will keep in touch during the ceremony but really they're there to make them look busy and important neither of which is accurate.

Freddie Highmore
5pm: E-Day as we've just dubbed it has arrived, and the entire Empire staff is gathered at the top of the Guildhall stairs, waiting for the first celebs to arrive. A throng of telly and internet journo types have lined up inside, while outside the Guildhall, literally thousands (ok, 27) film fans have pitched up early, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rich, the famous, and the diminutive on the red carpet. Almost instantly they're not disappointed when 12 year-old, no-taller-than-a-grasshopper Freddie Highmore, star of Finding Neverland and the titular hero in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (he plays Charlie, not the Chocolate Factory), becomes the first celeb to arrive, full of childlike hope that he can win the Best Newcomer category.

"I feel really lucky to be here," he told us. "Well, obviously, I'm the only child here so it's fantastic just to be nominated." That's not strictly true fellow child star, Emma Watson, aka Her out of Harry Potter was also at the awards, and we seated them at the same table. Did sparks fly, eyes meet, hands touch? Were phone numbers exchanged? We're not sure check Popbitch for details.

5.07pm: The League of Gentlemen, stalwarts of the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards ("This is our sixtieth time!" laughed MarkSteveReeseJeremy GatissPembertonShearsmithDyson), arrive and are as warm and funny as always. "It's somewhere warm to come on a Sunday afternoon," said one of the four. "But it's the star factor really they've always had a very good star count. Even when they were in the afternoons they were starry we used to bunk off school to come."

5.13pm: They're not wrong about the star factor. Here comes Roy Marsden, star of TV's something or other! Yay!

5.15pm: This is more like it. It's newly minted Oscar winner, the incredible Brad Bird! And as that's the millionth use of the word 'incredible' in relation to Mr. Bird, we win a prize! "I'm hoping for fast and loose Britishness," he said, proving that Helen's reputation sweeps all before her. "It's a clich to say that it's just great to be here, but it truly is."

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
5.17pm: It's Empire's close personal friends, the Shaun of the Dead gang Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg first up, fresh from drinks with Quentin Tarantino and Michael Madsen (where, apparently, QT was bemusing all and sundry by recounting Frost's lines from SOTD in a quasi-British accent). They were up for awards in pretty much every British category, and were looking forward to the night. "Empire's Empire, and its got that auspiciousness, and at the same time it's got a bit of fun, it's a bit cooler," said Simon, while Nick chipped in, "It's always nice to have awards voted for by the public, because it just makes it more credible than critics who don't like zombies."

5.20pm: Here comes Terry 'Tezza' Gilliam, former Python, current film director of considerable talent, and long-time friend of the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards. "Not in the Guildhall version of the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards, though," he said. "I was here when it was in a pub down at Hyde Park Corner." Bigger and better, Tel, bigger and better.

5.24pm: Toilet break. You don't want to know...

More... The Awards are about to get underway...


Awards report
Complete rundown of the night that was the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards.

Gallery
Winners, arrivals and a look back at previous Empire Awards.

Exclusive Video
Don't just read about it - watch it too!

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