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Martin Freeman
Martin Freeman

So, tonight saw the BAFTA TV Awards happen in the Savoy Hotel in London, with a huge panoply of British stars out in their best bib and tuckers, some of whom were hoping to bring home a little something for the mantelpiece.

First, and luckiest in this regard, was the BBC’s Sherlock, which won the award for Best Drama, and on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday too, as the show’s writer Mark Gatiss was quick to point out. Martin Freeman also won the Supporting Actor award, for his role as Dr Watson.

You can see Martin Freeman’s speech here, which is as funny as it is touching.

However, Benedict Cumberbatch, who many people were predicting would walk off with the Leading Actor award, did not. And nor did Matt Smith. That distinction was carried off by Daniel Rigby, for his portrayal of the British comedy legend Eric Morecambe in Eric and Ernie.

Here’s a clip, if you’ve not seen it:

Daniel’s female counterpart is Vicky McClure who won the Leading Actress award, nominated for her role in the gruelling Shane Meadows drama This Is England ’86. In her speech, she admitted “this is the best day of my life!”

Elsewhere, the story becomes a little more scattershot. At the entertainment end of things, Graham Norton won Entertainment Performance for The Graham Norton Show, the ecclesiastical farce Rev won the Situation Comedy award, and The Cube won Entertainment Programme.

Over in the factual corner, the stunning documentary Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children won the Current Affairs award. People who watched the film formed a 10,000 strong Facebook fund-raising campaign, with the result that everyone who is shown within the film is now being cared for properly. A wonderful achievement.

The BBC won the Sport award for their coverage of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ITV News At Ten won the News Coverage award for their coverage of the Whitehaven killing spree story, the Factual Series trophy goes to Welcome To Lagos, and Between Life and Death, a BBC medical documentary, wins the Single Documentary award.

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearney Whittingstall won the Feature BAFTA for Hugh’s Fish Fight, a campaigning series about wasteful fishing practises.

The Specialist Factual trophy is awarded to David Attenborough’s Flying Monsters: 3D, a Walking With Dinosaurs type show about pterosaurs. Accepting the award, his producer pointed out that Sir David is the only man to have won awards for black-and-white, colour, high definition and 3D documentaries. It’s an impossible achievement to repeat now, which makes him all the more remarkable.

On a more light-hearted note, the comedienne Jo Brand won the Female Performance in a Comedy Programme award for her portrayal of a cynical NHS nurse in BBC Four’s Getting On. Steve Coogan won the male equivalent for his remarkable portrayal of himself, opposite Rob Brydon in The Trip. He joked in his acceptance speech: “this was one of the hardest parts I’ve ever had to prepare for.”

Drama continued to dominate the night, with EastEnders winning the Continuing Drama award. Speaking of soaps, the BBC drama The Road To Coronation Street won the Single Drama award. It’s the story of how the UK’s longest running soap was first made, over 50 years ago.

Any Human Heart won the Drama Serial award, the Danish crime drama The Killing won the International Award and comically brash actress Lauren Socha was the winner of the Supporting Actress award for the Channel 4 superhero series Misfits. Her speech began “Oh. My. God.”

Peter Bennett-Jones, head of TV production company Tiger Aspect, chair of Comic Relief, and the agent of the cream of British comedians, won a Special Bafta for his many achievements. Apart from Comic Relief itself, his hits include: Mr Bean, Eddie Izzard, The Vicar of Dibley, The Catherine Tate Show, The Mighty Boosh, Shooting Stars, Harry Enfield

Speaking of whom, his show Harry and Paul won the Comedy Programme award. THere’s also a New Media trophy for Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention, a website which seeks to encourage children to invent gadgets.

The YouTube Audience award (voted by the public) goes to The Only Way Is Essex, a programme which is going to require a LOT more space to explain than we have here. However, the actor Stephen Mangan’s jokey welcome to the BAFTA audience coincidentally goes a little way towards explaining some the show’s appeal — “Hello you morally corrupt tarts!”

The final award is the BAFTA fellowship, which was given this year to the ITV news giant Sir Trevor McDonald. His six-decade career in news journalism would be impressive enough to justify any plaudits, but he’s also a hugely loved figure in British life. In his speech (which contained an insight into how he tackles political journalism: “these people that govern us are really responsible to us. And they must speak in our name.”), he calls the award “the solid good fortune of a lifetime’s work.”

A very apt description all round, don’t you think?

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By Fraser McAlpine