Well, I’ll say this for BAFTA: they know how to make an apology. You may remember that the British Academy came in for some flak last year when they announced their film award nominations — and beloved local actress Olivia Colman, who otherwise cleaned up on the UK awards circuit for her shattering lead turn in Paddy Considine’s “Tyrannosaur,” wasn’t on the Best Actress list.
Fans and professional peers alike voiced their dismay on social media and in public, and BAFTA stood accused of being out of touch with their own industry. A little over a year later, and BAFTA’s TV awards ceremony has made it up to the humble star, handing her two awards for her dramatic and comedic work on the smaller screen in the past year: Best Comedy Actress for the Olympic-themed sitcom “Twenty Twelve” and Best Supporting Actress for the courtroom drama “Accused.” She’s the first actor ever to take two BAFTAs in one night.
Colman accepted with her usual self-deprecating charm (“I’m not even the funniest one in our program,” she remarked of her comedy win) and a sly reference to last year’s disappointment. “Turns out it does mean a lot,” she quipped in her first acceptance speech, to a roar of approval from the crowd. Later on, she pointedly thanked her “Tyrannosaur” director: “You know why, Paddy.” Among those voicing their approval was her “Hot Fuzz” director Edgar Wright, who tweeted: “I really think BAFTA should go for the hat trick and retroactively give Olivia Colman the award she should have got for ‘Tyrannosaur.'”
Colman ruled the night even when she wasn’t accepting awards, as a number of other winners and presenters referred affectionately to the actress; currently starring in top-rated police drama “Broadchurch” (due to be shown on BBC America later this year), she seems to have officially attained national treasure status. What a difference a year makes. Next up: a role opposite Tom Hardy in big-screen thriller “Locke,” from Oscar-nominated writer-director Steven Knight.
At the typically low-key and loose-tongued ceremony — one where presenter Romola Garai introduced an award with a casual quip about the 23 stitches she’d recently had on her vagina — other big winners included 32-year-old star Ben Whishaw. He took the Best Actor award for his Shakespearean turn as Richard II in “The Hollow Crown” — and appeared genuinely overwhelmed to have beaten such veterans as Derek Jacobi and Toby Jones, nominated for his turn as Alfred Hitchcock in “The Girl.”
Jones’s co-star Sienna Miller lost in the Best Actress race to rising ingenue Sheridan Smith — who also stole Miller’s thunder, to Olivier Award-winning effect, on the West End stage recently when they co-starred in Terrence Rattigan’s “Flare Path.”
Hit US shows, meanwhile, weren’t totally shut out of a very British evening. Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” a word-of-mouth hit among hip Brits long before it hit UK satellite TV, took the Best International category, beating “Homeland” and “Game of Thrones.” “Thrones,” however, got its comeuppance by taking the evening’s one public-voted trophy, the Audience Award — beating a range of homegrown product, including Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony (which, incidentally, also lost the live-event coverage to the Paralympics). Seems even the British agree that America just does it better right now.
Meanwhile, in an interesting reversal, America’s favorite British TV show, “Downton Abbey,” was left out of the BAFTA nominations entirely. Perhaps the Emmys could follow their lead?
Full list of BAFTA TV winners:
Best Actor: Ben Whishaw, “Richard II: The Hollow Crown”
Best Actress: Sheridan Smith, “Mrs. Biggs”
Best Comedy Actor: Steve Coogan, “”Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life”
Best Comedy Actress: Olivia Colman, “Twenty Twelve”
Best Supporting Actor: Simon Russell Beale, “Henry IV, Parts I & II: The Hollow Crown”
Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, “Accused: Mo’s Story”
Best Drama Series: “Last Tango in Halifax”
Best International Program: “Girls”
Best Miniseries: “Room at the Top”
Best Single Drama: “Murder”
Best Comedy Program: “The Revolution Will Be Televised”
Best Situation Comedy: “Twenty Twelve”
Best Features Program: “The Great British Bake-Off”
Best Reality or Constructed Factual Show: “Made in Chelsea”
Best Soap or Continuing Drama: “EastEnders”
Best Entertainment Program: “The Graham Norton Show”
Best Entertainment Performance: Alan Carr, “Chatty Man”
Best Current Affairs Program: “This World: The Shame of the Catholic Church”
Best News Coverage: “Granada Reports: Hillsborough – The Truth at Last”
Best Sport or Live Event Coverage: “The London 2012 Paralympic Games”
Best Factual Series: “Our War”
Best Specialist Factual Program: “All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry”
Best Single Documentary: “7/7: One Day in London”
Audience Award: “Game of Thrones”