It’s ‘the most exciting night of the year in British Television’ if you believe the voice-over, but there’s always something a bit unfulfilling about watching the BAFTAs on TV. It feels like you’ve opted for the free demo version of the real thing. You get those thirty second clips of shows that leave seasoned telly addicts wondering ‘why the hell did they choose that clip ofall the clips’, and then leaves everyone else none the wiser as to what the show was actually about. Perhaps most frustratingly, you’re offered a tantalising glimpse of a star-filled evening of fun and frolics right up to the point before Mary Berry pulls out the gin and it all starts to get properly messy.
Ultimately, it’s a chance for all the luvvies of the TV industry to enjoy an extended back patting session; although the backs of those at the BBC were left looking mournfully unloved. The TV equivalent of ‘rubbing-salt-in-the-wounds’ is surely ‘giving-half-of-your-four-awards-to-a-channel-you’ve-decided-to-axe’: BBC Three picked up the sit-com award for the cutely crude ‘Him & Her’ as well as zombie-drama ‘In The Flesh’, perhaps aptly proving that the channel just won’t die, just yet.
‘Him & Her’ was up against the ‘IT Crowd’ and two other ‘IT Crowd’ related nominations in the Sit-Com category: its writer Graham Linehan also had a nod for the gloriously acerbic ‘Count Arthur Strong’ and Matt Berry was also in the running for the creepy ‘Toast of London’. But ‘IT’ wiped the floor in both comedy performance categories; Richard Ayoade’s dead-pan and dead-funny portrayal of Moss beat off stiff competition from his co-star Chris O’Dowd and James Corden’s ‘The Wrong Mans’ despite, in Ayoade’s own words, his ‘lack of ability to express emotion in [his] face’. Hilda’s alumnus Katherine Parkinson took home the prize for ‘Female Comedy Performance’ for her portrayal of the sometimes funny but mostly grating Jen Barber, in what was really the best of a pretty uninspiring category.
Channel 4’s most-complemented series ‘Gogglebox’ got the gold in the ‘Reality and constructed factual’ category, leaving Executive Producer Tania Alexander with the unenviable task of desperately trying to remember the names of all her square-eyed contributors during her acceptance speech. Inevitably the 23rd May edition of ‘Gogglebox’ included the hysterical, in every sense of the word, reactions of the families, couples and friends featured on the show; I’d like to propose that from now on, BAFTA adopts this format of acceptance speech in all categories.
Some of the acceptance speeches did show genuine emotion. Less ‘Peep Show’ and more ‘Weep Show’, Olivia Colman could barely get her words out after bagging the Leading Actress award for ITV’s ‘Broadchurch’ in a refreshing burst of genuine feeling that cut through the frippery and insincerity exhibited elsewhere; she thanked everyone including her ‘friend Merc, because she’ll laugh. She’s a teacher, not an actor – she’ll just think that’s funny.’
Among all the above, Julie Walters was presented with the BAFTA fellowship by her friend Celia Imrie, who walked out to present the award bedecked in what looked very much like a picnic rug. Somehow Sky One sports panel show ‘League of Their Own’ managed to pick up the ‘Comedy Entertainment Programme’ gong over BBC Three’s ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’: James Corden seemed genuinely surprised, rather than humble, when he said ‘no one is more shocked than we are to think this would be a BAFTA winning programme’. You and me both James, you and me both.