The Nominations for this year’s BAFTA TV Awards are out.
Normally, I’m miffed by obvious snubs but the nominees represent the best of 2021. I’d be happy with anyone winning the big categories but in a perfect world who SHOULD win. I’ve only picked categories that I can comment a lot about and the ones that mean the most to me.
In My Skin
Manhunt: The Night Stalker
Firstly, I agree with the majority here. Can’t quite get my head why Vigil is here but we’ll focus on the positive. Unforgotten’s fourth series was incredibly powerful and showcased everything that makes that show stand out in a crowded field. Manhunt’s second series wasn’t quite as compelling as the first, but my winner is In My Skin. The BBC Three series from Kayleigh Llewellyn was so personal. So raw, moving and beautifully realised that I’m never going to stop banging on about its brilliance to anyone within earshot. The lead performance from Gabrielle Creevy was so multi-layered as a young girl desperately trying to hide her home life from her lifelong friends. I’ll admit, I was worried that a second series needed to exist, but I’m always happy to admit when I’m wrong. Somehow, the second series was even more impressive. Bethan’s story was even more involving and desperate. I’m so pleased that BAFTA have nominated the series as it’s rare these smaller shows with tinier profiles are nominated in the bigger categories and I just hope In My Skin can triumph.
My Winner – IN MY SKIN
It’s a Sin
I loved Time. No one really tackles gritty British topics with the empathy and humanity that Jimmy McGovern does, but It’s a Sin wasn’t just one of the best dramas of 2021, it was one of the best British dramas ever made. It stands as one of the most important television dramas ever broadcast putting a human face on an epidemic we all lived through. It hit even harder as the world grappled with its new pandemic which forced us to reevaluate what was most important in our lives. Like all the best television, Russel T Davies’ script was personal and didn’t pull any punches. Over the course of its five episodes, It’s a Sin introduced us to characters that felt like family and as each got ill and passed it hit with a personal loss. I’ll save myself time and say It’s a Sin should win in every category it features in.
My Winner – IT’S A SIN
Death of England: Face to Face
I Am Victoria
This is a far easier category to call. Although difficult to watch, Jack Thorne’s Help is the only one of these that can win. Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham were great together in this brutal drama that looked at life in a care home as the pandemic began. The pair had incredible chemistry and Thorne’s script put a human face on the story far better than any news piece ever could. As Covid-19 became an uncomfortable part of our lives I was resistant to any drama even referencing it, but Thorne expertly handled the subject without shying away from the harsh realities of how badly let down the most vulnerable were as Covid took hold. It’s not a drama I’d ever want to revisit purely because it was too painful but Comer and Graham were both at the top of their game here. The script was razor-sharp and it was brave of Channel 4 to commission such a drama. The other nominees don’t come close for me.
My Winner – HELP
Call My Agent!
Mare of Easttown
The Underground Railroad
if I were doing a list of Who Will Win this one is the hardest to call. Each of these is important in its own way. Squid Game was hugely popular across the world on Netflix, The Underground Railroad was incredibly inventive from Barry Jenkins and Succession’s long-awaited third season proved it is still one of the best shows on television. As this is my list, Mare of Easttowon is the only one deserving of the win. It worked on every level. The performances were powerful, the central mystery was continually exciting and the world felt fully realised and lived in. Kate Winslet is at her very best here but so are Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart and Angourie Rice. The script was full of humour to balance the dark and grief at the centre of not only the mystery but also Mare’s personal life. It’s a perfectly constructed whodunnit but it’s also a great character study looking into what happens when you lose a loved one. I love Succession but it’s the other HBO drama on this list I’m rooting for.
My Winner – MARE OF EASTTOWN
Samuel Adewunmi (You Don’t Know Me)
Olly Alexander (It’s a Sin)
Sean Bean (Time)
Stephen Graham (Help)
Hugh Quarshie (Stephen)
David Thewlis (Landscapers)
I’d be happy for Sean Bean in Time or Stephen Graham in Help. Bean was particularly good as the everyman struggling to adjust to prison life. McGovern’s script perfectly captures the realities of life behind bars with Bean’s character feeling as you or I would if the worst were to happen. Graham’s performance in Help only further demonstrates what a national treasure Graham is. But, to stick with what I said in an earlier category, I can’t see this going to anyone else other than Olly Alexander for his role in It’s A Sin. A lively performance that got only more engrossing and devastating as Richie realised the true horror of the disease he’d initially been dismissive of. Alexander, who is primarily known for being the lead singer in pop group Years and Years gave one of the best performances of last year in a final episode that I will never forget.
My Winner – OLLY ALEXANDER
Niamh Algar (Deceit)
Jodie Comer (Help)
Emily Watson (Too Close)
Lydia West (It’s a Sin)
Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)
it’s the inclusion of Kate Winslet that I find really interesting here. I certainly won’t argue that she doesn’t deserve to be here, but it’s the fact that she’s been nominated for her role in an American drama that puzzles me more. I suppose they get away with it by saying she’s a British actress but I still find it odd. Saying all that, if Winslet won this award I’d be more than happy. As I would if first-timer Lydia West were to win. As Jill, West was the heart of It’s a Sin. She was the mother hen who looked after her friends as HIV ravaged their community. Based on a real person, West was warm and tender in the role and I can’t wait to see her star rise but I can’t help but think Jodie Comer deserves this. Her role as novice carer Sarah in Help showcased what a talent Comer is. After years morphing into different guises as Villanne in Killing Eve, Help allowed Comer to portray someone completely ordinary. The scene in which Sarah, alone on a nightshift phones 999 when an elderly patient starts struggling for breath will stick with me forever. It is Comer at her very best. She expertly conveys the complete panic and hopelessness Sarah feels whilst being let down at every turn. An incredible performance.
My Winner – JODIE COMER
Nonso Anozie (Sweet Tooth)
David Carlyle (It’s A Sin)
Omari Douglas (It’s a Sin)
Stephen Graham (Time)
Callum Scott Howells (It’s a Sin)
Matthew MacFadyen (Succession)
Increasingly, Matthew Macfadyen is my favourite thing about Succession. I think it’s such a tricky and layered performance. You’re never sure who Tom is or what his true motives are and Macfadyen plays him brilliantly. I love everything about the show but Macfadyen’s scene always hit the hardest. Not to sound too much like a stuck record but, this is surely going to Callum Scott Howells for his role as Colin in It’s a Sin. Surely?! Callum’s performance is my favourite of the series. When I think of the series it’s Colin’s face I see first. Callum Scott Howells plays the role beautifully. Colin is perhaps the most naive of the group and so when he succumbs to the disease it feels especially cruel and painful. AIDS strips him of his memory, his inhibitions and what makes him special. His final moments, surrounded by his heartbroken mother and the new family he has met in London were amongst the hardest of the series. I’ll never forget you, Colin.
My Winner – CALLUM SCOTT HOWELLS
FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY PROGRAMME
Aisling Bea (This Way Up)
Natasia Demetriou (Stath Lets Flats)
Rose Matafeo (Starstruck)
Anjana Vasan (We Are Lady Parts)
Sophie Willan (Alma’s Not Normal)
Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education)
Rose Matafeo’s performance in her self-penned romantic comedy Starstruck was one of my favourite performances on all of television last year. Matafeo is instantly likeable as Jessie, who falls for a man who turns out to be a well-known movie star. It’s a comedic performance but not an overtly big one. Of all the nominees here I want to see Matafeo triumph and be recognised for creating one of the best BBC comedies in recent memory.
My Winner – ROSE MATAFEO
Big Zuu’s Big Eats
The Great British Sewing Bee
Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing
Sort Your Life Out
Yes, this is just another excuse for me to talk about the sheer brilliance and charm of Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing. I should say, as I have every time I’ve talked about the series, that I have no interest in fishing. The idea of wading in a freezing river in the hopes of catching and then releasing its inhabitants has no appeal for me at all, but that’s the magic of the show. Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse have such chemistry. Their love for fishing and excitement when they catch something in a British beauty spot is infectious. Their riverside conversations range from the ridiculous to the deeply moving. Nothing about the series feels forced or done because there are cameras rolling, it feels an organic series following two friends enjoying each other’s company and their favourite pastime. I laugh more here than I do at most comedies. Long may it continue.
My Winner – MORTIMER & WHITEHOUSE: GONE FISHING
9/11: Inside the President’s Warm Room
Grenfell: The Untold Story
My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan
Nail Bomber: Man Hunt
I don’t feel we talk about how great documentaries are at the moment. Often better constructed than drama, they get to dig into a specific issue and take you to parts of the world you’re not aware of or live the lid on stories you feel you know and make you look at them from a different angle. That was certainly true of all these nominees and while I’d be happy for any of these to win, 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room was my favourite. The events of 9/11 will always be shocking. The footage of the airline flying directly into the World Trade Center will always turn my stomach. This documentary, one of many that aired across the twentieth anniversary of the terror attack looked at the events of the day from a different angle. Using talking heads from those within the White House including Colin Powell and President George W Bush who spoke honestly reliving the day. It was a fascinating look at the story we felt so familiar with. It was refreshing to hear those in power on the day talk about how the events affected them. It’s a must for those who haven’t seen it.
My Winner – 9/11 INSIDE THE PRESIDENT’S WAR ROOM
VIRGIN MEDIA’S MUST-SEE MOMENT (voted for by the public)
Adele surprised by the teacher who changed her life (An Audience with Adele)
Ant and Dec dig at Downing Street’s lockdown Parties (I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here)
Colin’s Devastating AIDS diagnosis (It’s a Sin)
‘UK Hun? – Bimini’s Verse (Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK)
Red Light, Green Light (Squid Game)
Rose and Giovanni’s silent dance to ‘Symphony’ (Strictly Come Dancing)
I’m not a Strictly Come Dancing fan, but even I, with my heart of stone, was moved by Rose and Giovanni’s silent dance which cleverly put us in Rose’s shoes as the first deaf contestant. The music falling away as the pair dance in silence with Rose feeling the vibrations of the Clean Bandit number one. It was a clever device that only added to the admiration people had for the EastEnders actress. While the Red Light/Green sequence of Squid Game was visceral and shocking as it dawned on us what the series was really about and don’t get me started on Colin again! Rose and Giovanni will win this and they deserve to. It’s proof that reality competitions like this can still surprise and move us and their importance within our culture.
My Winner – Rose and Giovanni’s silent dance to ‘Symphony’ (Strictly Come Dancing)
You can find the full list of nominees here