JOANNA Lumley was named as the first solo female host of the Baftas for more than two decades, as the major nominees for next month’s awards were announced.

The Absolutely Fabulous star brushed aside concerns that this could be a tricky edition to host, after Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony in the US was marked by protests and speeches criticising the entertainment industry’s sexual harassment culture.

Lumley, who replaces Stephen Fry, said: “My job is to say, ‘We are here celebrating the film industry. Here are the people coming from all the various categories, to give the prizes and to receive the prizes’. It’s up to them what they do. It’s not frightening for me at all, because I adore people and I adore films.”

The Shape of Water, the tale of a fantasy romance between a character played by British actor Sally Hawkins and an amphibious creature held in captivity, leads the way in terms of nominations, with 12 in total. Black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour received nine nominations apiece.

British actors Gary Oldman, Jamie Bell and Daniel Kaluuya are all in the running for best leading male while Hawkins and Irish actor Saoirse Ronan are among those nominated for best leading female. Call Me by Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk and Three Billboards are nominated alongside The Shape of Water for best film. Three Billboards and Darkest Hour are also up for outstanding British film, along with Paddington 2, Lady Macbeth, God’s Own Country and The Death of Stalin.

Christopher Plummer, a last-gasp replacement for Kevin Spacey, is nominated for best supporting actor for All The Money In The World.

Natalie Portman highlighted an “all-male” selection of nominees for the best director award at Sunday’s Golden Globes and the Baftas has followed suit, with no female nominees.

Whether not attendees literally follow suit on February 18 remains to be seen, after the majority of stars at the Globes sported all-black outfits in solidarity with the victims of sexual assault and harassment.