Five Reasons To Watch… Bafta Special

This week, Five Reasons is taking a look at some of the winners and losers from last Sunday's glitzy TV awards ceremony. Did Bafta get its picks right? And what do they have against Benedict Cumberbatch?

Leading Actor

Winner: Jason Watkins

Verdict: Right

I don’t know what Benedict Cumberbatch has to do to win a golden mask. Solve a real-life murder? The Sherlock star was nominated for the fifth time in a row for his role as the detective, but came away empty-handed again. Sorry Benedict, you’ve been wronged by Bafta in the past, but this time Jason Watkins deserved it.

Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies.
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies.

Watkins gave a remarkable performance in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, and his speech was truly moving. He dedicated the award to his daughter, Maude, who tragically died of sepsis in 2011 when she was just two years old.


Leading Actress

Winner: Georgina Campbell

Verdict: Wrong

Campbell was terrific in BBC Three’s Murdered By My Boyfriend, but she was up against two other notable performers.

Keeley Hawes’ turn as a homicidal policewoman in Line of Duty was memorable. She was dour and cold, but somehow kept the audience guessing as to her guilt, carrying the murder mystery to a dramatic finale.

Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black.
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black.

Even more impressive than Hawes was Sheridan Smith in Cilla. Smith completely embodied the Liverpudlian singer in a masterful display of character acting, adding another string to an already impressive bow. She’s come a long way since Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, and I firmly believe she’ll one day be heralded as one of Britain’s most talented actresses, along with the likes of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. She’s that good. And she deserved the Bafta this year.


Supporting Actor

Winner: Stephen Rea

Verdict: Wrong

Rea’s performance in The Honourable Woman is not to be understated, but Adeel Akhtar gets my vote for his role in Channel 4’s conspiracy drama Utopia.

Akhtar earns credit for acting through an eyepatch for nearly two series, but his character was much more complex than that. It’s a crying shame that Utopia was cancelled last year, and if it doesn’t return, this may be the last chance it has to win a Bafta. It would’ve been fitting for the golden mask brigade to give some recognition, through Akhtar, to one of the most compelling and original shows to grace British screens in recent years. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.


Supporting Actress

Winner: Gemma Jones

Verdict: Right

This was one of the more straightforward awards of the night. Amanda Redman and Vicky McClure were certainly worthy of their nominations, but Jones was magnificent as Neil Baldwin’s (Toby Jones) mother in Marvellous, an uplifting and true story about a man with learning difficulties who was appointed Stoke City’s kit-man during the 90s. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It was easily the most heart-warming and beautifully written TV film of 2014.


Male Performance in a Comedy Programme

Winner: Matt Berry

Verdict: Right

Berry cleaned up at the British Comedy Awards last year, and rightly so. Stephen Toast, Berry’s own creation, is an incredibly watchable character – a pompous actor plagued by a career that doesn’t match his self-aggrandised talent.

Matt Berry as the ever modest Stephen Toast.
Matt Berry as the ever modest Stephen Toast.

For Toast of London to thrive, despite Channel 4 giving it a graveyard slot on Monday nights, says much about the quality of the show. That Berry carries the whole shebang is a testament to his skill as both an actor and a comic. The Bafta was well-deserved.

Hugh Bonneville also deserves an honourable mention. It’s not easy playing the foil, the straight man to other, funnier characters, but he does so brilliantly in W1A. Maybe next year, Hugh.


Female Performance in a Comedy Programme

Winner: Jessica Hynes

Verdict: Right

At last. About time. Finally. As you can tell, Hynes has deserved this award for a long time. I would go so far as to say her performance as Siobhan Sharpe in W1A is one of the greatest comedic displays, male or female, since Ricky Gervais brought us David Brent. As part of an ensemble cast, Hynes has to make do with a lot less screen time, but she certainly makes the most of it, stealing every scene she’s in without fail.

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Hynes’ speech was heartfelt too. She spoke, emotionally but articulately, about her background as a single-parent child, and her fears about government cuts to organisations that support people, like herself, from low-income families who want a career in the arts. A popular winner.


Drama Series

Winner: Happy Valley

Verdict: Wrong

In any other year, BBC One’s Happy Valley would’ve been the clear choice. But the 2015 line-up for this category was particularly strong.

Line of Duty again wins plaudits for its original take on a police drama, and The Missing was a hugely popular thriller, loosely based on the Madeleine McCann story.

The winner, though, should’ve been BBC Two’s gangster epic Peaky Blinders, for its stunning second series. If you want to see the best of British acting, look no further. Cillian Murphy was phenomenal as the gang leader, and Tom Hardy as absorbing as ever as Alfie Solomons. Those of you rueing the gangster gap left by the departed Boardwalk Empire, this show is just as enthralling.



Winner: True Detective

Verdict: Right

It would’ve been a travesty if HBO’s crime series didn’t pick this one up. It had strong competition – House of Cards, The Good Wife, Orange Is The New Black – but they didn’t come close to the spellbinding television created by the cast and crew of True Detective.

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective.
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective.

Unfortunately, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson won’t be returning for series two, with Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn taking over. Boy, do they have some big shoes to fill.


Radio Times Audience Award (voted for by members of the public)

Winner: Sherlock

Verdict: Wrong

If we’ve learnt anything recently, it’s that the British public can’t be trusted with a vote.

Sherlock is brilliant TV, and perhaps picking up the Bafta somehow compensates for Cumberbatch’s five-time failure. But when Game of Thrones is in the same category, the choice looks a bit ridiculous. Sherlock has rightly collected numerous awards over the years, but GoT is a hulking behemoth of a show, watched by millions worldwide, that manages to combine crowd-pleasing set-pieces with surprisingly nuanced storylines and dialogue.

At least one Jon Snow received an award. The Channel 4 News presenter was given the esteemed Bafta Fellowship for services to journalism and broadcasting. And no-one can complain about that.

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