Richard E Grant makes slap joke in Baftas opening speech

Richard E Grant wasted no time referencing “The Slap” in his opening speech at the Baftas on Sunday night (19 February).

The Withnail and I actor, who is hosting this year’s ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall, told the star-studded crowd: “Nobody on my watch gets slapped tonight – except on the back.”

Grant was referencing the notorious 2022 Oscars moment that saw Will Smith slap presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

After the incident, Smith was forced to apologise and resigned as a member of the Academy. He did not, however, have to give up his Best Actor award for King Richard.

Last November, Smith made his first late-night talk show appearance since the Oscars fiasco, telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that he was “going through something that night”.

He attributed his actions to “bottled rage”.

Grant isn’t the only person who’s been cracking jokes about the slap at awards shows. Last month, Eddie Murphy referenced the incident at the Golden Globes.

Read the full list of this year’s Bafta winners, as they are announced, here.

War drama All Quiet on the Western Front led the nominations this year with a whopping 14 nods, followed by The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All at Once, which both got 10 each.

The moment Smith slapped Rock at the Oscars (AFP/Getty)
The moment Smith slapped Rock at the Oscars (AFP/Getty)

Following a two-year hiatus from the awards, Prince William and Kate Middleton are attending the 2023 ceremony.

The 2023 Baftas are being broadcast from 7 to 9pm on BBC One.