French polling agency projections show President Emmanuel Macron and far-right rival Marine Le Pen leading in the first round of the presidential election.
If borne out by official results, the two will advance to a presidential run-off on April 24 with strong echoes of their last face-off in the 2017 election.
The projections show Mr Macron with a comfortable first-round lead on Sunday of between 27-29% support, ahead of Ms Le Pen, who is expected to capture 23-24% of the vote.
But the second round is likely to be tight.
The election’s result will impact Europe’s direction as it tried to contain Russia and the havoc wreaked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
The April 24 run-off appears set to pit the centrist president seeking to modernise the economy and strengthen European cooperation against the nationalist Ms Le Pen, who has seen a popularity boost after tapping into voter anger over rising inflation.
Official results are expected later on Sunday night.
Beverley Knight, who is nominated for best actress in a musical for The Drifters Girl, said it was an “indescribable feeling” to return to the Olivier Awards after such a difficult period for live theatre. She told PA: “We have been bereft of theatre for so long, just had nothing, and people only realise the importance of the place that theatre and live entertainment played in any society when it […]