A few days ago the 2012 Emmy nominations were announced in a blaze of publicity. This got me thinking about the biggest night in the TV calendar for the UK. Actually, that’s the National Television Awards. I mean the second biggest night…THE BAFTAs!
When you think about it that statement is actually true. In terms of engagement with the viewing public The BAFTAs are second to The National Television Awards. That’s right. The most prestigious night for people that work in TV, honouring talent on both sides of the camera, that has been around for decades has been overtaken by a recent award show. How did this happen? How was this allowed to happen? I think The BAFTAs could do with some revamping as a TV programme and with the voting process. This is my BAFTA improvement plan.
- The Big Show
When I look at The Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and even The National Television Awards they are presented on a grand scale. The BAFTAs in recent years look small by comparison. It’s a bit like when you leave it late to book an office Christmas party and while others have secured the good venues you’re left with The Dog And Duck Pub in Neasden. The BAFTAs are a big deal, they should be staged as a big deal and should come from a venue with a large stage and a large audience. This leads to my next suggestion. Why is it always introduce a presenter/announce the winner/introduce a presenter/announce the winner? Why not have a musical act or variety act onstage during the broadcast? Perhaps have some pre-recorded sketches to play in. It is a TV show as well so it needs some spectacle. At the moment it’s coming across like a glorified school end of term prizegiving ceremony.
- Let comedians be comedic.
One thing that really makes my toes curl is when you have presenters announcing a category doing REALLY bad comedy REALLY badly! Don’t put two people together for several minutes to become for one night only an unfunny double act with two straight people. Not all actors or presenters have an affinity for comedy and nobody has an affinity for bad comedy. All that happens is you’ll end up with a cringeworthy moment of TV where those at the ceremony squirmed while watching, while viewers at home squirmed while watching, while going on Twitter to tell everybody that they squirmed while watching! Some people can do comedy and some people can’t. Writers and producers should watch the presenters doing their lines in the rehearsals. If the presenter isn’t working change the lines and just give them something simple and straightforward to say. Have the comedy skits on Strictly Come Dancing taught us nothing?
- Are we live?
The BAFTAs should be broadast live and in their entirety. No half hour delay with the official BAFTA Twitter account revealing winners before we see them on TV. The latter should definitely not happen again. If the Eurovision Song Contest can broadcast until 11pm live then so can The BAFTAs. Having some winners appear briefly during a montage at the end of the programme is insulting to them. Let ALL winners get their chance in the spotlight. And with that in mind televise the Craft Awards again. They could go out on BBC2 or BBC4.
Now we come to the awards and nominations. This might take some time so feel free to get a snack or use the toilet.
And we’re back!
I think a big reason why the general public don’t watch like they used to is because many of the shows they like don’t get nominated. If millions of people didn’t watch a programme in the first place, chances are slim that they’ll want to watch that programme when it’s up for an award. Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey and Sherlock were notable by their absence in the Best Mini Series/Drama Series categories. It’s good that shows with smaller ratings get noticed as they can be overlooked, but as awards are based on merit programmes should be put forward whether they get 10 viewers or 10 million viewers. Those three high profile dramas did enough to earn a nomination for Best Drama Series/Mini Series. It felt like they missed out, not because they weren’t good, but because they were popular. The fact that Downton & Midwife didn’t even make the shortlist for the audience award is nothing short of staggering! There’s no point having an audience award that doesn’t reflect what the public are watching. In fact I don’t think it’s something BAFTA should do at all. The Oscars don’t have a viewers’ vote and give the winner a pseudo Oscar. The BAFTA Audience Award doesn’t give the winner a proper BAFTA and doesn’t always nominate what the people at home like watching. It’s really the ‘Critics’ Choice for the Viewers’ Choice, not a proper BAFTA Award’ BAFTA Audience Award. Ditch it! Although a part of me would miss moments like when The Only Way Is Essex won and Martin Freeman had THAT face!
- So many shows so few spaces!
With the increase in channels and programme making more programmes than ever are being put forward. Sky have increased drama & comedy production across their channels, UKTV are bringing back The Comic Strip & Red Dwarf as well as giving us multichannel sensation Dynamo. Then we have BBC3, E4 ITV2 and many other channels making shows along with BBC1/2/ITV1/Channel 4. Can the best TV of the year really be narrowed down to just 4 nominees now? I don’t think so. So I would increase the number of nominees in a category from 4 to 6 as a minumum. This would mean more good shows get a chance of being nominated, some popular shows that might have missed out would stand a better chance of getting through. And I just think it’s fairer.
- Several Angry Men (and Women)
Now we come to the juries. They ultimately decide who will take home one of the coveted masks. The voting process goes like this: BAFTA members vote on the various categories and a shortlist for each category is drawn up, then a jury made up of non BAFTA members decides the winner. On the BAFTA website it says “those programmes and performances which have attracted the most votes from the Academy membership are then put up for further scrutiny by category juries.” What does that mean? A programme can finish at the top of a list based on members’ votes and still not be nominated? Is that what that means? Please tell me if I’m wrong because that doesn’t sound very fair to me.
I think all BAFTA juries should be made up of BAFTA members with an external person acting as impartial head of the jury. If BAFTA are going to have an award shortlist decided by their members then the winners should be decided by their members too. Oscars aren’t decided by film critics so BAFTAs shouldn’t be decided by TV critics. Critics can be there as independent heads of the jury but they don’t have a vote. They’ll be there to ensure jury members discuss each programme and more importantly have seen the nominated programmes. If a jury member hasn’t seen the nominee then they are off the jury immediately. Also jury discussions should be minuted, for internal use by the Committee, so the Committee can see it’s being taken seriously, nobody is pushing their own agenda or is showing specific bias for or against some nominees.
Well, as the lead singer of Cameo once said when he tried on his codpiece for the first time, I think that covers everything. I doubt anything will change but here’s hoping.
Do you agree with Cameron’s changes? How would you like to see the ceremony changed? Let us know below..
Contributed by Cameron Yarde Jnr