Bafta TV awards: Wolf Hall wins big as BBC reform criticised

Peter Kay stands silent and feigns shock at winning award instead of giving speech

BBC Two's period drama Wolf Hall was one of the big winners at this year's British Academy Television Awards.

The popular series, directed by Peter Kosminsky, was named best drama, and actor Mark Rylance took home the coveted leading actor category.

In his acceptance speech, Rylance led a passionate defence of the BBC ahead of a key week in the future of the public-funded broadcaster.

Echoing the thoughts of director Peter Kosminsky as both spoke out ahead of the Government’s White Paper on the future of the BBC, widely expected on Thursday, Rylance said:


“The incredible variety of popular culture in this country, it’s really blown my mind tonight. I think woe to any government or any corporation that tries to come between that.

“We’re a nation of storytellers, we’re admired around the world for it and long may it live and long may it be a privilege to the people here without having to watch commercials.”

Earlier in the ceremony Kosminsky hit out at the Government, saying it was trying to “eviscerate” the BBC, and adding that he felt now “is a dangerous time for broadcasting in Britain”.

Comedian Peter Kay also had a successful evening, winning two of the main awards. The comedian showed why he was named winner of the male performance in a comedy programme category for Peter Kay's Car Share as he took to the stage and opted not to give a speech, instead just resting on the podium looking shocked.

After feigning shock at winning, he stood on stage silently, and then simply said “Cheers, thank you” as he exited the stage.

The TV show also picked up the Bafta for Scripted Comedy.

Strictly Come Dancing beat the likes of Britain’s Got Talent and Adele At The BBC to take home its first ever TV Bafta for entertainment programme.

Strictly host Tess Daly said they were "genuinely shocked" as she took to the stage to collect the award.

“This is the most incredible honour, we have never won a Bafta before and it honestly means the world to all of us so thank you to everybody at Bafta.”

Joining her on stage, her co-host Claudia Winkleman joked that she "regretted the three tequilas" she had had, adding: "Huge thanks to the producers, the judges and our amazing dancers, we cannot believe it. We're going out for five days after this."

Popular BBC One series Doctor Foster lost out in the mini-series category, which was won by Channel 4's This Is England '90.

Director Shane Meadows said: "This was probably the end of This Is England and you kind of dream of how you are going to finish something and this was the dream you had, was to come to the Baftas, the last chance to win something for something you love."

Idris Elba presented the award for best comedy performance by a female actress.

Taking to the stage he explained his hoarse voice, saying: “I’ve lost my voice so bear with me, I’m not drunk I promise.”

Actress Michaela Coel won for her performance in Chewing Gum and said she wanted to "pay her respects to the late Victoria Wood" as she accepted her award.

She went on to say: “If there’s anyone out there who looks a bit like me and feels out of place, and wants to get into this (acting), you are beautiful, embrace it, you are intelligent, embrace it, you are powerful, embrace it.”

Another successful comedy celebration came from comedy writing duo Alan Simpson and Ray Galton, who won The Bafta Fellowship award.

The recorded a thank you message via video, which showed Simpson saying: “We met in a sanatorium, we were 17 years old and to this day we complement each other. He helps me up the stairs and I tell him what day it is. We’re so glad you’ve chosen this year because if you waited much longer you might have missed us. There are so many people to thank for this award but most of them are dead.”

Sherlock star Martin Freeman presented the Radio Times audience award to Poldark.

Sir Tom Courtenay accepted the award for best supporting actor as he begrudgingly accepted his title as a "veteran" of the industry.

Channel 4’s First Dates was named the winner of the reality and constructed factual category.

Chanel Cresswell made an awkward slip of the tongue as she picked up her award for best supporting actress for This Is England '90, she accidentally called the 10-year project the "worst work experience".

The award for special factual show was won by Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners.

EastEnders picked up the best soap and continuing drama and was accepted by former producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who said he had not stopped crying in the two days since his departure.

Joined on stage by Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett, who play Ian and Jane Beale, he thanked the crew and "mostly everyone at Elstree (studios), the most amazing team who work so hard everyday to make this amazing show, from the make-up girls to Ange on the help desk, who work with such love, this is for them".

Victoria Wood, Sir Terry Wogan and Ronnie Corbett were among the actors and industry members lost in the past year who were remembered in a tribute segment at the awards.

Doctor Foster’s Suranne Jones was named leading actress and said she was “still in shock really”.

The actress welcomed her first baby, a son, in April and spoke about what being a mum would bring to the role.

“The wonderful thing about taking some time off is that I get to have a new life experience, which I think actors should have all the time and when you’re working solidly you don’t get those,” she said, adding about being a mother: “I don’t know, I’ll find out what all this new mumminess will bring to my role.”