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The BAFTA TV Awards

What are the BAFTAs?

Photograph: BAFTA

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a charity that supports and promotes the art forms of moving images. This includes film, television and video games. Originally the British Film Academy and the Guild of Television Producers and Directors were two separate organizations that had their own awards shows. In 1958 they merged and eventually became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Now they have several award ceremonies throughout the year known as the BAFTAs. The awards series includes:

  • Film Awards
  • Television Awards
  • Television Craft Awards (this is the behind the scenes awards visual effects, costuming production, music)
  • Game Awards
  • Children’s Awards

Right now I want to talk about The British Academy Television Awards, since they are happening this Sunday.

The BAFTA TV Awards recognize excellence in British television. To be eligible a show has to have been broadcast in the UK between January 1st and December 31st. They have a wide range of categories from the standard drama and comedy programs to reality shows and news coverage. A couple of categories that I find interesting at the BAFTAs are the Radio Times Audience Awards and the International category.

The Radio Time Audience Awards is the only award chosen by the public. The nominations are chosen from a panel of TV critics. The list is usually pretty eclectic. They try to represent a wide range of television genres and formats. Dramas, comedies, mini-series and reality shows are all mixed in. In the end though, the winner is chosen by public vote. This year the nominations are:

The International Award is for shows made outside of the UK, but they also have to have been broadcast in the UK between the eligibility dates. This allows shows like Game of Thrones, Girls, and Homeland to be nominated.

Photograph: IMDB

Something new this year is to allow programs that are shown online through a web-based broadcaster (like Netflix) to be eligible. A show like The Wrong Mans, which is produced as original content for Hulu, now gets a chance to be nominated. This has the biggest impact in the International category. Previous nominees would have had to been broadcast in the UK on television. If you look at last year’s nominees most of them were from premium cable channels. Shows that may have been broadcast traditionally in the US, but were only available via streaming in the UK, weren’t eligible. This really skews the nominations. Shows that have done well critically in the US haven’t been represented. Now, with this rule change, shows like House of Cards and Breaking Bad are now eligible. The International nominees this year are:

I don’t really have any predictions for this year’s winners. Being in the US, I haven’t been able to see all the shows, and I don’t really feel equipped to make an informed decision. However, I’d like to talk about some shows that I hope do well.


Photograph: BBC America

Broadchurch is a crime drama that centers on the killing of a young boy and the police hunt for his murderer. It received three nominations, Best Drama, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. It was also nominated for the Audience Award. Personally I would like to see it win Best Drama and Best Actress. It is a short series (only eight episodes) but told so well. Instead of using the murder to keep the story interesting, it focuses on the small town and how the people, and their relationships, are affected by the murder. The acting is amazing. Across the board you are invested in every character. Like them or hate them, you want to know what’s happening. Specifically, Olivia Colman’s portrayal of DS Ellie Miller is stellar. You follow her not only as a police officer, but also as a member of the community who is struggling with the death of a boy she knew. She is the center of this show, and carries the series beautifully alongside David Tennant. Her acting is never forced. Instead she slowly reveals her emotions keeping the performance understated for most of the series. Her nomination for Best Actress is well deserved.

In the Flesh

Photograph: BBC America

In the Flesh is a genre drama, about zombies. It’s definitely the odd man out in the Mini Series category. But, it is a fresh take on the zombie genre. It is set four years after the zombie rising. The government has found a medication that can rehabilitate the undead. The series follows Kieren Walker, who is suffering from Partially Deceased Syndrome, as he returns home to his small town and faces the challenges of his new life, including hostilities from his neighbors and friends. The show uses the zombie plot device to address bigger issues like prejudice and bigotry. It’s been nominated for two awards, Best Actor and Mini Series. I’m not sure it will win, since it’s not traditional award show fodder, but it is a solid series that’s worth a look.

The only category I feel I can make a prediction about is the International category. I can say with confidence that it will be Breaking Bad. This show did well in the awards circuit all year. And given that this is the first year that it has even been eligible for a BAFTA, and it’s the final season, it’s going to win.

For the full list of the BAFTA Television Awards nominees check out the official BAFTA website.

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