The BAFTA Film Awards will no longer have the UK’s resident renaissance man fronting the ceremony, with Stephen Fry saying today he is stepping down from his longtime emcee role. Fry has played nimble-tongued host to the awards 12 times, and every one of those evenings “has a place in my memory,” he said. “But after so long a time, I felt it only right to stand down and let others take the BAFTAs on to new heights and greater glories… What fun it will be to watch BAFTA 2018 without my heart hammering, mouth drying and knees trembling.”

Fry continued, “The mixture of glamour, glory, drama and — occasionally — embarrassment and hiccup holds a unique place in the British film calendar. Over the last two decades I have especially loved watching the emergence of new young film talent behind and in front of the camera.”

The 2018 host will be announced at the BAFTA nominations press conference on next Tuesday in London.

The EE BAFTA Film Awards ceremony will be held at the Royal Albert Hall on February 18. The event moved back to the Royal Albert last year for the first time since 1997 after being held at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House in the intervening years. For the second year in a row, the ceremony will feature a performance by Cirque du Soleil. The awards will air on BBC One.

Amanda Berry, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said of Fry’s departure, “On behalf of everyone at BAFTA, I would like to sincerely thank Stephen Fry for making each and every one of the Film Awards that he’s presented such memorable and joyous occasions. We will miss him tremendously.”

Added Fry, “I want to thank all the production staff, Amanda Berry and her wonderful BAFTA colleagues, the BBC and all those who helped make every year so enjoyable. I reserve especial gratitude and imagination for Ivor Baddiel and Phil Kerr, whose work on the scripts was so skillful it made people think I’d written every line myself.”