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‘British’ TV Shows that Bow in the U.S. Officially Allowed to Compete for BAFTAs

What is a British TV show? The definition is changing insofar as it relates to the BAFTA Television Awards with a change to the eligibility rules.

Killing Eve” was nominated for 14 BAFTA TV awards last time out, and won several including best drama series, and best actress for Jodie Comer. Although a British show as far as viewers in the U.K. were concerned, and produced by London-based Sid Gentle Films, the hit series was commissioned by BBC America. It premiered in the U.S. months ahead of launching on the BBC.

BAFTA was accused of bending its own eligibility criteria, which required projects to premiere in the U.K., to let the buzzy drama compete. That will not happen from 2020 as the organization officially updates its rules.

A show will no longer have to premiere in the U.K. to qualify for the production categories. Programs will be eligible if they are initiated and developed in the U.K. and have creative control residing within the U.K., or a U.K. broadcaster has primary editorial control. The program must be on U.K. air in the same calendar year as its bow in the U.S. – or in any international territory.

In an era of international co-production, and with U.K. production and creative talent behind some of the biggest global shows, BAFTA said it has widened the net to reflect industry changes. “We have to look at what’s going on in the marketplace,” Emma Baehr, BAFTA’s director of awards and membership told Variety. “We want to recognize British on and off-screen talent. We can see more shows transmitting in the U.S. and then the next day [or later] in the U.K.”

The changes for 2020 follow earlier tweaks in 2016 that saw BAFTA broaden its eligibility criteria to allow shows that were majority-funded from outside the U.K. – but had British creative control – compete.

BAFTA will also test the introduction of the BFI Diversity Standards across all production categories in 2020. Another change, is the introduction of a casting category at the TV awards, which had already been announced. Casting was one head of department role not previously recognized.

The British Academy Television Craft Awards will take place on Apr. 26. The Virgin Media BAFTA Television Awards will take place on May 17. Nominations for both awards will be announced in March.

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