Last night’s Virgin Media Bafta TV Asian and Black award winners had something to say…
THERE was a veritable rollcall of diverse winners at last night’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) TV Awards.
Many hailed it as the most diverse ever and feel that the industry is finally, albeit far too slowly, beginning to recognise a much wider pool of talent.
Yesterday’s (June 6) Virgin Media Bafta ceremony took place at the former BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, west London and it was a mix of in person presentations and TV remote acceptances. Show compere was Richard Ayoade.
Romesh Ranganathan won best Entertainment Performance for his hosting of ‘The Ranganation’ show on BBC TV. In a post-award interview clip with the BBC screened today, he said that the diverse make-up of winners needed to be sustained and not be just a one-off.
The comedian and broadcaster said in his acceptance speech that his wife was not impressed with him because he sometimes talked about trivial subjects in ‘The Ranganation’. Broadcast from his garage at home, due to the pandemic and like a large Zoom, the show sees him talk to celebrities and 20 other regular members of ‘The Ranganation’ – including his mother – about topical events of the week – or make jokes about biscuits or other such daily trivia.
Deeyah Khan addressed one of the most contentious subjects on the planet and went to America for her documentary, where the debate has long incited violence and fear.
Her ‘America’s War on Abortion’, screened on ITV, won in the Current Affairs category.
Today (June 7) she issued a statement on Twitter and her Instagram account expressing her gratitude and dedicating the award to her three-year-old daughter. (See below for her statement in full).
Beset by guilt in making the film, during the pandemic and spending much time abroad, Khan confessed: “I found myself considering never making another film again because of how my heart and Maya’s would break a thousand times every time I would leave her to go filming.”
She also praised the bravery of those women who risked their own safety to talk about the subject on camera with her.
Another woman who also won last night, and spoke deeply – this time about positive change within the industry was Michaela Coel.
She won Best Mini Series, Best Actress and in the Writer category, as well, for ‘I May Destroy You’ – which is based on a sexual assault she suffered.
The three Baftas she won for the BBC 12-episode drama last night add to the two she won earlier in the Bafta TV Craft Awards recognising her co-direction of the series, with Sam Miller, and the show’s editing.
Last night in her acceptance speech, she welcomed the introduction of Intimacy Co-ordinators/directors. They help and support actors and directors with scenes of a physical and sexual nature that need to be depicted on screen.
Praising the role of Ita O’Brien, in her own work, she said: “I know what it’s like to shoot without an Intimacy Director – the messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew, the internal devastation for the actor.”
Today Intimacy Directors or Co-ordinators, as they are also known, are becoming the norm in films which involve physically intimate scenes.
Coel was of several black talents to be recognised.
Rakie Ayola won for her Supporting Actress role in the drama, ‘Anthony’ which is about an 18-year-old called Anthony Taylor being killed in a racially motivated attack. Based on a true story, Ayola plays Anthony’s mother in a BBC script penned by veteran star writer Jimmy McGovern.
Sanjeev Bhasker, star of popular crime drama, ‘Unforgotten’ presented the award to Ayola.
She thanked McGovern for his “poetic” script and also praised Anthony’s mother for her bravery and strength in letting the drama, celebrate the person Anthony Taylor would have been and “never was” – His mother told Ayola that the drama was inspired by the thought that not only would some people see it – but that it might make a few people think just long enough, so someone “could get away” – and not be chased to their death like Anthony.
Winning in the Best Supporting Actor category was Malachi Kirby for his portrayal of activist and broadcaster Darcus Howe in the Sir Steve McQueen directed, ‘Small Axe’ series which screened on the BBC in five separate story lined episodes.
Kirby/Howe appeared in ‘Mangrove’ – which is centred around a celebrated trial that acquitted a group of nine black men, accused of creating a riot.
Praising Howe, who died in 2017, aged 74, and who was one of the founding members of the British Black Panthers, Kirby said he wanted to dedicate his award to his mother and wished he could write his mother’s name on the Bafta. Ayode joked he could do that just, if he really wanted.
The dance group Diversity won the Virgin Media Must See TV moment of the year award – the only one voted for by the public, and not BAFTA members.
The dance sequence on the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ programme sparked off over 30,000 complaints. The segment acknowledged the pain and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing outcry it sparked with Black Lives Matter protests around the world. The Diversity group also recognised coronavirus in the sequence. Diversity lead Ashley Banjo in his acceptance speech, standing next to his brother and fellow member Jordan, thanked people for their support after the furore broke.
“Thank you to everyone that stood by us, every phone call, text, comment, DM.
“You guys made a difference to what was a really dark time, being in the storm of 30,000 complaints,” he told viewers on the programme broadcast last night on BBC One.
He also had a word of praise for those were upset by the sequence and rang or wrote to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator to make their opposition known.
“In a way, I have to say thank you to the people that complained,” revealed A. Banjo. “Because you showed the truth. You showed exactly why this performance and this moment was necessary. But for all those people, just take a look – because this, as much as there are so many conversations and so much that needs to change, this is what change looks like.” Diversity came to prominence in 2009, finishing third in that’s year ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ but have gone onto become one of the UK’s best known dance outfits.
Lennie James, the actor and showrunner behind Sky Atlantic drama, ‘Save Me Too’ won in the Drama series category for his second series.
James plays the lead character, a dissolute womaniser whose life changes when he discovers the daughter he fathered 13 years earlier has just disappeared. And so begins his quest.
The BBC Windrush tale, ‘Sitting in Limbo’ was named Best Single Drama. It charts the struggles of Anthony Bryan as tries to prove he is a British citizen after the state declares him an illegal immigrant and sets about his deportation. The government’s own incompetence and now discredited hostile policy towards migrants leaves him in limbo. Writer Stephen S Thompson dedicated the award to the victims of the 2017 Windrush scandal. Some died even before the government accepted its mistake and there many who are still awaiting adequate compensation.
Thompson thanked production company, Left Bank Pictures and the BBC for helping to make and broadcast the drama and reached out to the victims: “We see you, we hear you and we honour you.”
Benjamin Zephaniah accepted the Best Entertainment Award for Sky Arts’ ‘Life & Rhymes’, the UK’s first ever TV show on spoken word. Flanked by two collaborators, he said: “It gave a voice to diverse people from all backgrounds in a time of lockdown. We gave voice to a community that needed to be heard.”
Winning in the Reality and Constructed Factual category was Channel 4’s ‘The School that tried to end racism’. It is about a series of tests and activities that looks to uncover racial bias among 11 and 12-years olds and has scientists and education experts tackle what they found at Glenthorne High School in south London. The school has a roughly 50/50 split of white and pupils of colour.
In ‘The Surgeon’s Cut’, which shadows leading doctors applying pioneering treatments to difficult or widespread conditions – Indian Dr Devi Shetty features. A cardiac specialist based at Narayana Health, in India, he performs up to 30 operations a day, prioritising those who can’t afford expensive procedures. The four-episode series won in the Specialist Factual category and is a joing BBc Studios- Netflix production.
Popular late night TV Show, ‘The Big Narstie’ won Best Comedy Entertainment show and rapper Tyrone Lindo or ‘Big Narstie’ as he is better known colloquially, thanked everyone he worked with – while other members of his team shouted across him in a chaotic but funny scenes – a bit like the programme sometimes.
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Deeyah Khan acceptance speech
See Bafta Awards acceptance speeches (scroll down) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLby-UMvsblGaM41ZYr2wAO8sHk297g56N
Pictures all courtesy ©Photographers and Baftas