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Meera Syal and Adeel Akhtar light up Bafta TV awards 2023

Meera Syal and Adeel Akhtar light up Bafta TV awards 2023

Adeel Akhtar wins second British Academy of Film & Television Arts (Bafta) TV Award* Meera Syal receives highest Bafta accolade, a TV Fellowship (pre-announced and received in person). * Krishnendu Majumdar, Bafta chair coming to the end of his term, salutes increasing diversity and wants organisation to continue to champion*Shiva Raichandani and Asifa Lahore walk red carpet and represent Asian LBTQIA+ communities in short nomination for ‘Always Asifa’•
Hosts Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett joke about BBC balance, and other topical subjects

By Mamie Colfox

ADEEL AKHTAR and Meera Syal were the big winners on the evening – Akhtar picked up his second TV Bafta after winning the Leading Actor role in 2017.

On Sunday (May 14), he received his second Bafta in a supporting category for his role in the BBC crime drama, ‘Sherwood‘ and his previous Bafta came for ‘Murdered by My Father‘.

He also spoke to at this year’s Bafta from the media room and mentioned his nomination in last year’s Bafta Film for which he got a nomination for his role in ‘Ali and Ava‘.

Akhtar told acv that he felt good about being in such a strong cast when he got the role of Andy Fisher in a drama that featured David Morrissey and Lesley Manville.

He went on to praise fellow cast and crew, saying, “you can only do a good job when surrounded by good people”. When asked about a location that has stuck with him during his successful career, he referenced Bradford during the filming of ‘Ali & Ava’.

“It really stuck with me and it drew people’s attention to an area of the UK that has been overlooked”.

He also praised Syal for the opening the door he and others felt they could walk through after her.

Syal didn’t shy away from addressing the issue of Diversity in her acceptance speech.

She is the first person of South Asian descent to be awarded a Fellowship – which is the highest accolade Bafta can bestow on anyone.

During her acceptance speech, Syal jokingly claimed there was something missing from her award before sticking on a bindi the Bafta figurine itself, saying, “there you go”. 

She dedicated the award to her parents and highlighted the importance of hearing people’s stories after explaining her father’s trauma during Partition and the personal sacrifices he had had to make.

He came to the UK with big dreams of being a singer and poet and liked talking about philosophy and art, but no one was interested in what a young Asian man had to say about these subjects in the 1960s.

“When you hear someone else’s story, you stand in their shoes. You’re no longer an other, or a stranger or a statistic, they are as complex a human as you are. As a child I was definitely an other.

She went on to explain the significance of her win in the winners’ media room as she poignantly declared, “this represents change”.

Krishnendu Majumdar, Bafta chair, signed off his three-year term with a plea for diversity to go further and deeper and continue on the path he feels the organisation must continue to walk – if it is to stay relevant and successful. He saluted Syal saying that without figures like her and the seminal BBC comedy sketch show, ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ , his own ascent might not have been possible.

Professor David Olusoga also received a Bafta Special Award for his contributions to history programmes on television. He has spoken a lot about a lost generation of filmmakers of colour who having got a break into a notoriously tough and competitive industry faced challenges and difficulties their white contemporaries often found easier to navigate.

Also nominated in the short form category was Shiva Raichandani’s documentary ‘Always, Asifa’ which follows the life of Britain’s first very openly out Muslim drag queen, Asifa Lahore. 

Acv managed to catch up with the pair on the red carpet and Raichandani expressed their joy at being there: “It’s so surreal being celebrated this way on the red carpet, it’s absolutely heartwarming”.

Lahore added: “I’m just so glad that our documentary was shortlisted in the year where there is so much queer representation. So any show with queer representation that wins, I’m there for it.”

The team behind ‘Always Asifa’ lost out to ‘How to be a Person’ made by Anna Hashmi, Sindha Agha, Samira Main, Anne Pearl, Tobi Kyremateng. This was initially a US production that was first broadcast by the New York Times online and then picked up by E4 for the UK.

The show – parts of which went out live on the BBC and were held at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank – were hosted by comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett this year. The pair teased the audience about their own edgy repartee – at one point referring to the audience as “shark-eye narcissists” as well as “some of the hardest working and most talented people in TV”.

Rangathan’s The Misdventures of Romesh Ranganathan’ was also nominated in the Features Section but lost out to ‘Joe Lycett Vs Beckham: Got Your Back At Xmas

Lead Pic: Meera Syal receives Fellowship: ©Stuart Wilson /BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA. All images courtesy of Bafta.

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture