It’s squeaky bum time again for TV bosses who’ll either be popping their corks or drowning their sorrows, as the BAFTA Television Awards are handed out on Sunday at 8pm live on BBC1. The awards, seen by many as television’s equivalent of the Oscars, recognise the cream of talent on the goggle box over the last year, on screen and behind the scenes, and feature 24 categories and two special BAFTA Awards recognising long standing contribution to the industry.
These two special awards have, as usual, been announced in advance of the show, with the highly respected newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald picking up the prestigious Fellowship award, and Comic relief creator Peter Bennett-Jones being given the 2011 Special Award. I wonder however that following his death last year, perhaps there should have been a posthumous award or recognition for Only Fools and Horses’ writer John Sullivan. The rest of the award winners are anyone’s guess, but this square eyed OTB reviewer will look into his crystal ball and have a crack at predicting who will have a smile on their faces at the end of the night.
BEST LEADING ACTOR
Nominees: Jim Broadbent, Any Human Heart (Channel 4), Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock (BBC One), Daniel Rigby, Eric and Ernie (BBC Two) and Matt Smith, Doctor Who (BBC One).
For me it’s a close call between Smith and Cumberbatch, in their respective Moffatian guises. Both actors hit the ground running (and subsequently spent a lot of screen time dashing about), immediately making each role their own despite stepping into a characters with long and distinguished histories. In my mind however, the star of Sherlock might edge it – so much better than Robert Downey Jr.
OTB Verdict: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock (BBC One)
BEST LEADING ACTRESS
Nominees: Anna Maxwell Martin, South Riding (BBC One), Vicky McClure, This Is England ’86 (Channel 4), Natalie Press, Five Daughters (BBC One), Juliet Stevenson, Accused (BBC One).
Competition for this award is always tight and this year’s field all deserve special recognition whatever the result, but many are tipping Juliet Stevenson to edge it for her role in the highly acclaimed crime-on-a-human-level BBC series, despite some fine acting from Vicky McClure in the excellent This Is England ’86. Anna Maxwell Smith is the sole representative for feelgood television.
OTB Verdict: Juliet Stevenson, Accused (BBC One)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nominees: Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey (ITV1), Martin Freeman, Sherlock (BBC One), Johnny Harris, This Is England ’86 (Channel 4), Robert Sheehan, Misfits (E4).
Before watching Sherlock I was wondering whether Martin Freeman could finally put his role as ‘Tim’ from The Office behind him. So I was delighted to see him shine in the modern reboot of Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth and score the central role in Peter Jackson’s Tolkienian prequel The Hobbit. Could he be on course for a BAFTA award? One fears that stiff competition from Downton Abbey‘s Brendan Coyle (the beloved Bates) and Johnny Harris from This is England ’86 could steal the gong from under his nose.
OTB Verdict: Brendan Coyle – Downton Abbey
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nominees: Gillian Anderson, Any Human Heart (Channel 4), Lynda Baron, The Road to Coronation Street (BBC Four), Lauren Socha, Misfits (E4), Jessie Wallace, The Road to Coronation Street (BBC Four).
Whilst we’re still bemused as to how exactly the BBC came to air a production based on ITV’s most popular ever series, one thing we are sure about is that the trusty Beeb certainly did a good job of producing the nostalgic Road to Coronation Street, with two of it’s supporting actresses up for awards. X Files star Gillian Anderson put in a great performance in Any Human Heart (and was also rather unnerving in Crimson Petal and the White), whilst Lauren Socha also acted finely in popular E4 show Misfits, which won a BAFTA last years for best drama. Loud mouth Jessie (who is most famous for playing Kat in Eastenders) might edge it.
OTB Verdict: Jessie Wallace, The Road to Coronation Street (BBC One)
BEST ENTERTAINMENT PERFORMANCE
Nominees: Rob Brydon, The Rob Brydon Show (BBC Two), Stephen Fry, QI (BBC One), Harry Hill, Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1), Graham Norton, The Graham Norton Show (BBC One).
Four heavyweights of the entertainment industry go head to head in this category, which this year looks tighter than Gordon Brown when it’s his turn to buy a round. Harry Hill’s show has been recognised before, but continues to offer up big laughs. QI has been nominated four times previously but an award has so far remained allusive. Queen of comedy Graham Norton already has one BAFTA to his name, whilst Rob Brydon of Gavin and Stacey fame, who has also been nominated for a BAFTA previously, has been nominated for his own show this year. As for ‘what’s occurring’ on the night? Our money’s on the Welshman.
OTB Verdict: Rob Brydon – The Rob Brydon Show (BBC Two)
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY ROLE
Nominees: Jo Brand, Getting On (BBC Four), Dawn French, Roger and Val Have Just Got In (BBC Two), Miranda Hart, Miranda (BBC Two), Katherine Parkinson, The IT Crowd (Channel 4).
Larger than life French and ‘fart gag’ loving Hart both stand out in this category. Miranda was more warmly received by the critics, but both received good viewing figures and were popular with viewers. However with Hart’s sitcom providing warm-hearted entertainment for millions, we expect her to claim this one. Sorry Vicar.
OTB Verdict: Miranda Hart – Miranda (BBC Two)
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY ROLE
Nominees: James Buckley, The Inbetweeners (E4), Steve Coogan, The Trip (BBC Two), Tom Hollander, Rev (BBC Two), David Mitchell, Peep Show (Channel 4).
Can new boy on the comedy circuit James Buckley, who played ‘clungetastic’ Jay in The Inbetweeners, take on the older generation in this comedy face-off? My money says he can. The series about four school kids has yet to win a BAFTA award not voted for by the public, and for Buckleys’ outstanding performance in every episode of the show, which nearly gave me a heart-attack I laughed so much in places, he should be rewarded. There’s competition from Peep Show though, which recently came back to our screens for an unprecedented 7th series, making it the longest running show in Channel 4 history. Some critics say the show is getting better in it’s twilight years, and the series has previously won a BAFTA, whilst Mitchell won an award for his performance in 2009.
OTB Verdict: James ‘Bus W****r’ Buckley, The Inbetweeners, (E4)
BEST SINGLE DRAMA
Nominees: Eric and Ernie (BBC Two), I Am Slave (Channel 4), Road to Coronation Street (BBC Four), The Special Relationship (BBC Two)
The BBC’s touching tribute to ITV’s epic soap on its 50th anniversary was pitch-perfect and littered with fabulous performances, but Dennis Quaid and Martin Sheen both delivered memorable turns in the political drama The Special Relationship.
OTB Verdict: Road To Coronation Street (BBC Four)
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Being Human (BBC Three), Downton Abbey (ITV1), Misfits (E4), Sherlock (BBC One).
What a category this is! All four were brilliant, but we think that ITV’s period drama Downton Abbey has just too strong. Not only did it form an awesome partnership with X Factor to dominate the Sunday night ratings, but it served as a statement of intent for ITV’s drama department.
OTB Verdict: Downton Abbey ( ITV 1)
BEST SERIAL DRAMA
Nominees:Any Human Heart (Channel 4), Mad Dogs (Sky 1), The Sinking of the Laconia (BBC Two), The Promise (Channel 4)
Gripping time-shift drama The Promise bravely delved into the question of Israel while its C4 counterpart recounted the memoirs of Logan Monutstuart. Frankly, we think they both outperformed Mad Dogs by some distance..
OTB Verdict: Any Human Heart (Channel 4)
BEST CONTINUING DRAMA
Nominees: Casualty (BBC One), Coronation Street (ITV 1), Eastenders (BBC One), Waterloo Road (BBC One)
It’s been another big year for the London based soap with Ronnie’s baby-stealing scandal creating headlines and a stack of complaints at OfCom. Casualty, which has just recruited Gemma Atkinson to it’s cast, is still strong, whilst wildly unrealistic school drama Waterloo Road is also as popular as ever. Coronation Street bosses are certain to be pinning their hopes on the tram crash storyline earlier this year, which by all accounts was possibly the most impressive scene in soap history. Tough award to judge.
OTB Verdict: Coronation Street (ITV1) Hard to look past the oldest programme in the world on its 50th birthday..
BEST INTERNATIONAL DRAMA
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire (Sky Atlantic), Glee (E4), The Killing (BBC Four), Mad Men (BBC Four).
As America faces off against Denmark, there can be no doubt that each series will have it’s own fan base (don’t even start Gleeks!) but despite HBO’s gangster serial cleaing up at the Golden Globes, I think the Danish crime thriller which took the country by storm will claim this one.
OTB Verdict: The Killing (BBC Four)
BEST FACTUAL SERIES
Nominees: Coppers (Channel 4), One Born Every Minute (Channel 4), Welcome to Lagos (BBC Two), The Young Ones (BBC One).
The maternity ward doc captured the hearts of the nation this year. With a second series in the pipeline, it should win this category..
OTB Verdict: One Born Every Minute (Channel 4)
BEST SPECIALIST FACTUAL
Nominees: Alan Bennett and the Habit of Art (The Making Of) (More 4), Flying Monsters 3D (Sky 3D), Human Planet (BBC One) Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town (BBC Two)
Sky pinned their hopes on winning over viewers to spectacle wearing 3D TV by bringing in legend David Attenborough to narrate Flying Monsters this year. But despite the love I have for the natural history guru, I have to say that I enjoyed the Pompeii documentary with Cambridge bod Mary Beard’s excellent commentary even more..
OTB Verdict: Life and Death in a Roman Town (BBC Two)
BEST SINGLE DOCUMENTARY
Nominees: Between Life and Death (BBC One), The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (More 4), Pink Saris (More 4), Scenes From a Teenage Killing (BBC Four).
Despite my disappointment at Louis Theroux not appearing in this category, I found the Afghanistan documentary thoroughly interesting. Expect the heart-breakingly relevant Scenes From A Teenage Killing to provide stiff competition though..
OTB Verdict: The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (More 4)
BEST TV FEATURES
Nominees: Come Dine With Me (Channel 4), Hugh’s Fish Fight (Channel 4), Mary Queen of Shops (BBC Two), Pineapple Dance Studios (Sky 1)
Four programmes, all of which are worthy of the award. Come Dine With Me is still as good as ever, even after what seems like the millionth series, Mary Queen of Shops is so esteemed in high circles that Mary is now a Government advisor. Hugh’s Fish Fight is a very worthy cause and has prompted huge debate across the UK, in the House of Commons and on the OTB site, whilst Pineapple Dance Studios is camp but compulsive viewing. A tough one..
OTB Verdict: Hugh’s Fish Fight (Channel 4)
BEST CURRENT AFFAIRS
Nominees: Kids in Care – Panorama (BBC One), Lost Girls of South Africa – Dispatches (Channel 4), Secret Iraq (BBC Two), Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children (BBC Four).
OTB Verdict: Lost Girls of South Africa – Dispatches (Channel 4)
BEST NEWS COVERAGE
Nominees: BBC One Ten O’Clock News: Handover of Power, Channel 4 News: From Chile’s Ecstasy to Congo’s Agony, ITV News at Ten: The Cumbria Murders, Sky News: Egypt Crisis.
ITV may have upped their game in the drama department, but their news content remains rather lacklustre and watching Sky News means listening to Adam Boulton – so obviously that’s out. The Beeb’s coverage of last year’s election and the subsequent political melé was essential viewing..
OTB Verdict: BBC One Ten O’Clock News: Handover of Power
Nominees: 6 Nations – Wales V England (BBC One), FA Cup Final: Chelsea v Portsmouth (ITV 1), Formula 1- The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (BBC One), Wimbledon 2010 (BBC One).
If the BBC outshine SKY and ITV in news broadcasting, then the boot is very much on the other foot in this field. We think ITV should grab this award, not only for their FA Cup coverage, but for their Champions League exploits. Similarly Sky would have had another impressive year as the home of live Premiership football, but probably waved goodbye to a nomination when Richard Keys and Andy Gray forgot the microphone was still on.
OTB Verdict: FA Cup Final: Chelsea v Portsmouth (ITV 1)
BEST NEW MEDIA
Nominees: LabUK/Brain Test Britain (bbc.co.uk), Misfits (E4.com), Malcolm Tucker: The Missing Phone (iTunes App Store), Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention (bbc.co.uk).
Despite our love for Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It, the Beeb really have come up trumps with the Wallace and Gromit content on their website and Nick Park’s creations deserve the award.
OTB Verdict: Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention (bbc.co.uk)
BEST ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME
Nominees: The Cube (ITV 1), The Graham Norton Show (BBC One), Have I Got News For You (BBC One), The X Factor (ITV 1)Two nominations for Graham Norton this year – really? Have I got News for You is a staple of mine, but hasn’t done anything special over the last year. X Factor is one of the most watched things on TV and needs no introduction. But will we remember 2010 as the final year it was able to exert such a tight stranglehold on the pre-Christmas schedule? Onlytime will tell.
OTB Verdict: X Factor (ITV1) which was probably at its high water-mark last year..
BEST COMEDY PROGRAMME
Nominees: Catherine Tate’s Little Cracker (Sky 1), Come Fly With Me (BBC One), Facejacker (Channel 4), Harry and Paul (BBC Two)
For me it’s a close call between Facejacker and Come Fly with Me, both of which are totally unique. Living up to the iconic Little Britain was always going to be a tough task for Lucas and Walliams, but they have once again proved themselves to be the masters of multi-character creation. Well done boys.
OTB Verdict: Come Fly With Me (BBC 1)
BEST SITUATION COMEDY
Nominees: Mrs Brown’s Boys (BBC One), Peep Show (Channel 4), Rev (BBC Two), The Trip (BBC two)
Mitchell and Webb are my favourites in this category, with the Peep Show writers still able to make me laugh hysterically at the boys’ antics, and Superhans of course. Yet The Trip and Rev also proved vastly popular with audiences. So did Mrs Brown’s Boys for some reason. We thought it was bloody awful.
OTB Verdict: Peep Show (Channel 4)
YOUTUBE AUDIENCE AWARDLOGO: YOUTUBE
Nominees: Downton Abbey, The Killing, Miranda, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, The Only Way is Essex, Sherlock
The wildcard award voted for purely by the people. I do have the feeling that although Downton Abbey or Sherlock should win this hands down, the youtube voting public may be behind Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Just please don’t let The Only Way is Essex win. Another series will be bad enough..
OTB Verdict: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (C4)