Last Sunday evening saw the annual BAFTAs broadcast on BBC One. Going into it, it felt like the same dreary show we’ve come to expect from the past few years. And Graham Norton’s (who else?) opening set of ‘jokes’ didn’t really lighten the mood either. When the camera cut to the audience, it was clear even they were having trouble faking a smirk. But then something happened which I wasn’t really expecting. To my complete and utter shock, the show started to get very good.

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We can’t have a discussion about that night and not talk about the two-time winner Olivia Colman, can we? She won Best Supporting Actress for Twenty Twelve (which also won Best Comedy), and also Best Actress for her role in Accused. It’s nice to see her finally get some recognition for her skills, and even nicer that she got recognised for both drama and comedy. If you saw her in Tyrannosaur you’ll already be aware of how powerful and moving her acting can be. If you saw her in Peep Show (which should be everyone in the world) you’ll already be aware of how funny she can be. Her acceptance speech was just a brilliant way of showing people can both be brilliant and humble. ‘Turns out it does mean a lot’ she said, only for the audience to beam, applaud and whoop from their seats. If someone says to you ‘There are no great British actors’, first of all them slap them; second, show them anything Olivia Colman has been it. That’ll stop them saying that again.
And now for something completely different, there aren’t too many shows that my entire family watch together, excepting maybe anything with Brian Cox. There’s only one other name that we come together for; Michael Palin. My dad rarely laughs at things on TV, yet Michael Palin has him howling, clutching his sides, and gasping for air. And he’s not alone in the country with that reaction, as the man himself proved at the award ceremony on Sunday night. He was awarded a Fellowship, and not before time too. It’s impossible for me – or anyone – to sum up his career and not miss something out that someone else will think is his best work. For me though, nothing beats Monty Python; so many of the lines are heard every single day. What other comedy show has done that? Think about it – Monty Python first aired 44 years ago. And still to this day, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
As a whole, the night was great – stars that actually deserved the awards got them. Olivia Colman was just one of the actors who finally got some recognition. Sheridan Smith is always great, be it in comedy or drama. She stole every second she was in Gavin and Stacey, and demanded attention in her winning role this year of Mrs Biggs. Ben Whishaw’s brought both Q from Skyfall and Richard II to us, and both have been excellent. Obviously Made In Chelsea was the exception to that rule. Half of the audience’s toilet break happened to coincide with their award, and the other half just rolled their eyes. More than anything else though, it proved that British TV is still just as alive and as vibrant as our American pals. Accused, Twenty Twelve, The Thick of It. That’s just the tip of the TV iceberg, go my children and watch some British TV, you won’t regret a moment of it.
Winners 2013
Comedy Programme: The Revolution Will Be Televised
News Coverage: Hillsborough – The Truth at Last (Granada Reports)
Current Affairs: The Shame of the Catholic Church (This World)
Radio Times Audience Award: Game of Thrones
Reality and Constructed Factual: Made in Chelsea
Drama Series: Last Tango in Halifax
Single Documentary: 7/7: One Day in London
Entertainment Performance: Alan Carr, Chatty Man
Single Drama: Murder
Entertainment Programme: The Graham Norton Show
Situation Comedy: Twenty Twelve
Factual Series: Our War
Soap and Continuing Drama: EastEnders
Features: The Great British Bake Off
Specialist Factual: All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry
Sport and Live Events: The London 2012 Paralympic Games
Mini Series: Room at the Top
International: Girls
Female Performance in a Comedy Programme: Olivia Colman, Twenty Twelve
Male Performance in a Comedy Programme: Steve Coogan, Welcome to the Places of My Life
Leading Actor: Ben Whishaw, The Hollow Crown: Richard II
Leading Actress: Sheridan Smith, Mrs Biggs
Supporting Actor: Simon Russell Beale, Henry IV Part 2
Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, Accused (Mo’s Story)
Special Award: Clare Balding
Special Award: Delia Smith
Fellowship: Michael Palin