While the red carpet won’t be rolled out here in the States until long after summer ends, the awards across the pond are just heating up.
Last night, dozens of British television shows were honored and awarded in London for the BAFTA TV Awards 2016. In true English fashion, the ceremonies were hosted by Graham Norton–host of the Graham Norton Show and essentially the UK version of Ryan Seacrest, who has also hosted the BAFTAS before. Though no single show dominated the night like American ones tend to do at the Emmys, both British drama Wolf Hall and comedy Peter Kay’s Car Share snagged two awards. Again, while that sounds meager compared to the outlandish Emmy sweepings (looking at you, Game of Thrones, with twenty-two and counting wins in just five seasons), the BAFTAs are structured slightly differently so that no category has a million options for one genre of show to take home wins.
And like most years, the 2016 incarnation of the TV BAFTAs were not exempt from a united political call.
It began with the first of two speeches given by representatives from Wolf Hall. While accepting the award for “Best Drama Series,” the director of the show, Peter Kosminsky, did not mince words against the UK government regarding the BBC.
“In many ways, our broadcasting, the BBC and Channel 4, which they’re also attempting to eviscerate, is the envy of the world,” said Kosminsky, “and we should stand up and fight for it, not let it go by default. If we don’t, blink and it will be gone.”
The Wolf Hall director was referring to the current Tory power in the British government’s plans to shake up the structure of the BBC, the UK’s biggest broadcasted source of information and entertainment. Unlike in America, where networks like CNN and NBC are owned by corporations, the BBC has always been under government control, and it seems as though the plans to strangle funding are going to drastically alter the liberties the network is able to take with topics and the like.
Kosminsky continued, “There will be no more Wolf Halls, no more award-winning Dispatches documentaries on Channel 4, just a broadcasting landscape where the only determinate of whether something gets made is whether it’s likely to line the pockets of its shareholders.”
Other winners in the evening echoed Wolf Hall‘s call to action, including Ian Kislop during his acceptance speech for the comedy Have I Got News for You, Independent reports.
Other than “Best Drama,” Wolf Hall‘s Mark Rylance also picked up “Best Actor in a Drama Series” for his performance as Thomas Cromwell during Henry VIII’s time. Peter Kay’s Car Share‘s dual win were in “Male Performance in a Comedy Program” as well as “Scripted Comedy.”
This is England 90, the Sheffield-based season of the overarching drama Shane Meadows, won “Best Miniseries” while its actress, Chanel Cresswell, scooped up “Best Supporting Actress” to boot. Familiar kings kept their crowns in their respective categories, including The Great British Bake-Off and the soap opera EastEnders.
Despite his role as host, Graham Norton was snubbed for his own category, “Entertainment Performance,” in which Leigh Francis and Celebrity Juice squeaked out on top.
A few American shows even wormed their way to recognition in the “International” class; Transparent, which has seen its own victories on US award show soil, picked up the trophy last night over The Good Wife, Narcos, and Spiral.
And no award show would be complete without an above-all honor to an exalted figure in the field. The Special Award in Honor of Alan Clarke was presented to 40-year-long comedian Lenny Henry, whose best work has been in Three of a Kind, Tiswas, and most importantly, in founding Comic Relief, which in its years has brought in over 1.4 billion US dollars.