Dorothy Hobson, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Contemporary Media
‘Turns out it does mean a lot!’ - Olivia Coleman accepting the BAFTA award for “Supporting Actress” in ‘Accused (Mo’s Story)’
Olivia Colman was the undoubted star of the 2013 BAFTA Television awards. Colman triumphed for her work in the serious drama ‘Accused (Mo’s Story)’ and the sitcom ‘Twenty Twelve’, and both gongs were well deserved. While it is easy to be blasé and pretend that award ceremonies don’t matter, Colman accepted her two awards with enthusiasm and excitement, and it’s clear that recognition from peers is still a big thing for actors and actresses.
Of course, when it comes to award ceremonies, decisions are subjective - collectively subjective – and sometimes some decisions cannot be praised but must be endured! I can’t comment on every category, but an interesting award was the gong for “Drama Series”. Presented by the Birmingham born actor David Harewood, and Damien Lewis, both stars of the excellent American series ‘Homeland’, the nod went to the BBC drama ‘Last Tango in Halifax’. How interesting it was that the leading actress in the series, Anne Reid, told the audience when accepting the award that it was about time the commissioners recognized that there could be love stories made about people aged 35 or over. Imagine!
Some categories were tight but perceived as being fairly awarded while others were obviously more contentious. Awards which for me were the correct choices included “Situation Comedy”, which was awarded to ‘Twenty Twelve’, the most brilliant satire we’ve seen on our screens for a number of years on television. The characters were sublime with every PR person we knew contributing a tiny share of the character played by Jessica Hynes. Shakespearean drama also fared well, with Simon Russell Beale winning for best “Supporting Actor” in ‘Henry IV Part 2’ and Ben Whishaw stealing the crown for “Best Actor” as ‘Richard II’.
It was good to see Clare Balding recognized for her strong contributions across many sports over her fantastic career. Clare is a consummate professional, and whatever sport she’s fronting she makes herself an expert in it before she begins and appears completely natural and unaffected in front of the camera.
Also fantastic to see was the BAFTA Fellowship awarded to Michael Palin. One of the funniest and, according to his best friend and fellow Python, Terry Jones, ‘The World’s Nicest Man’, I had a special reason to be delighted with his award. In March 1985 when ‘EastEnders’ was launched on BBC1, I appeared on the television discussion programme ‘Did You See..?’ with the novelist, David Lodge, and Michael himself. He was certainly very nice, but also the funniest man I have ever met. Making jokes and funny asides throughout the programme, it was an absolute privilege to appear with him.
For me, there were a few awards I was a little surprised about but that’s life! I thought the ‘London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony’ really should have won something. Spectacular, historically and artistically brilliant, with an energy and integrity to recognize so many aspects of British culture and people, it was surely not a programme to be over-looked. Similarly, the biggest global show at the moment, ‘Homeland’, also went away empty handed.
Light entertainment programmes played their part in the evening, with Graham Norton, Alan Carr and Steve Coogan all winning their respective categories. ‘Made in Chelsea’ took the “Reality and Constructed Factual” prize with a comment from one of its participants, Francis Boulle, that perfectly summed up “reality” TV: “Who would have thought you could win a BAFTA for being Posh?” Feel free to substitute your own words for one of the previous winners ‘The Only Way is Essex’!
So the BAFTAs are over for another year. Will I continue to watch awards ceremonies? Of course - I will be watching them for pleasure and for professional interest. I encourage my students to watch as many programmes as they can. Only by being steeped in your area of study can you ever hope to gain entry into the industry.
For a full list of the categories and their winners, please see: http://awards.bafta.org/award/2013/television