The biggest event in the British Television calendar is with us again. The Baftas is the industry’s awards ceremony and this year’s venue was the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank. Out came the red carpet, the press, the stars and the frocks. Happily, they were all greeted by beautiful April sunshine.
The event was hosted this by Graham Norton – not my favourite entertainer, I’d have preferred Stephen Fry. However, the business of the evening was not the presenter but the winners and as always at these events the galaxy of stars sat nervously in their seats, looking shocked if they won, and gamely trying to clap in a good-natured way if they lost.
This year there were plenty of surprises. In the drama category, the nominations were Dr Who, Spooks, Shameless and Wallender. My money would have been on Spooks – it’s a thrilling, fast moving drama about spies in the security services. My next best guess would be Dr Who – always great but it has won a good deal of awards lately. Shameless, I didn’t watch but I hear was fantastic. Guess what won – Wallender.
This is a detective show starring Kenneth Branagh and the twist is - it’s set in Sweden. Yes, Sweden. We are treated to a melancholy Swedish detective, solving gruesome murders against a backdrop of spectacular Scandinavian scenery. As many of our cop shows are set in Manchester or London, the scenery was a pleasant change. I enjoyed Wallender. It was unusual and the setting was imaginative – but I would never have thought it would win a Bafta.
Speaking of cop shows set in London, The Bill won its first ever Bafta. This soap, or continuing drama as they like to call it, has been running for 25 years and it beat EastEnders, Casualty and Emmerdale to the award.
Best actress gong went to actress Anna Maxwell Martin for her part in Poppy Shakespeare. She was in Bleak House three years ago and won a Bafta for that part too. She beat EastEnders veteran, the 82-year-old June Brown who plays Dot Cotton and was the firm favourite to win.
Stephen Dillane won best actor for his portrayal of a grieving father in The Shooting of Tom Hurndall. This Channel 4 drama was about a young man who was shielding Palestinian children in Gaza when he was shot by an Israeli soldier.
The best sitcom nod went to The IT Crowd beating Outnumbered, The Peep Show and The Inbetweeners – the latter being a spoof of Skins. I wanted Outnumbered to win. This largely improvised show about a middle class family with three children is absolutely brilliant. The children, aged six, nine and 12, steal the spotlight and, unlike many shows starring children, the whole thing has a genuine, fly-on-the-wall quality.
Sir David Attenborough, 82 years old and definitely one of our national treasures, won an award for best specialist factual series for Life in Cold Blood. He especially thanked the cobras, lizards, chameleons etc who made his job possible.
Comedy duo French and Saunders won the Bafta fellowship, the highest award. They have been comedy partners for 30 years but are perhaps best known for their separate work – Ab Fab for Jennifers Saunders and The Vicar of Dibley for Dawn French.
But audience award went to Skins. This teen drama, where Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel got his break, was voted the most popular show by the great British public.