Cate Blanchett shivers her way through The Hobbit's London premiere

Cate Blanchett arrives for the royal premiere of the film 'The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey' in central London. Photo: Reuters

Matilda Battersby©

So frozen were the crowds who’d camped out to see the stars of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at its London premiere that their visible breath rose in smoke-like plumes above them.

The fake Hobbit hole, part of an impressive piece of set dressing at Leicester Square looked extremely inviting as darkness fell and the temperature plummeted.

Gollum actor Andy Serkis arrived first accompanied by his wife the actress Lorraine Ashbourne who, in a backless and sleeveless dress, drew gasps of sympathy from onlookers as she braved the cold. The pair shivered their way down the green carpet, Serkis stopping to confirm that, after working on The Hobbit as the film’s second unit director, he’s going to spend more time behind the camera from now on.

“I’m definitely moving more towards directing now,” he said.

Love Actually actor Martin Freeman plays the title role in The Hobbit, the first of a trio of prequels directed by Peter Jackson set 60 years before The Lord of the Rings. Freeman told me he didn’t take any advice from Ian Holm, who played Bilbo Baggins in the previous films, preferring to find the foibles out himself.

“I didn’t seek any advice from Ian about the character, but I did watch him,” he said. “I think you really have to make it your own.”

Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who reprised the role of the elf Galadriel for the new movies, arrived wearing a white, backless Givenchy dress and didn’t stop for many interviews, clearly feeling the chill, before dashing into the Odeon with a borrowed coat over her shoulders.

Gandalf actor Sir Ian McKellen quashed reports from yesterday that he had developed a bond with “special dwarf” while filming. “Nothing to do with me. That was somebody else’s gag,” he said, and would elaborate no further.

James Nesbitt of Cold Feet and Monroe fame plays one of the 13 dwarfs who accompany Bilbo Baggins on his rather unexpected journey. He told press that the band of dwarfs got up to no good during filming, playing practical jokes and making fart gags.

Prince William arrived at 6.30pm and was driven onto the green carpet in a dark vehicle, emerging to wave at fans for only a few minutes. He was not accompanied by his pregnant wife the Duchess of Cambridge, who has cancelled a number of engagements following her admission to hospital last week suffering from acute morning sickness.