The annual Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards are kicking off — and it’s an unprecedented edition for an unprecedented year.
As a physical ceremony is not possible because of the coronavirus pandemic, the BAFTAs are broadcasting from a closed studio with winners accepting awards virtually. BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar — who took over in June from producer Pippa Harris — told Variety it was important for the org to “celebrate the brilliance and the importance of television” during the crisis.
HBO and Sky’s nuclear drama “Chernobyl” leads the nominations, followed by Netflix hit “The Crown,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s BBC and Amazon-backed comedy “Fleabag” and BBC and Netflix thriller “Giri/Haji.”
Several of the nominees participated in an at-home photoshoot coordinated by acclaimed photographer Rankin earlier this week.
After an introduction by host Richard Aoyade, comedian Tim Minchin kicked off festivities with a piano performance backed up by a trio of singers. “No one’s stronger than an artist in a crisis,” sang Minchin. “Come hell or high water, pandemic or disorder, we will stand up to give each other prizes. But there’s no one to applaud me, who am I? No camera to record these real tears that I cry.”
Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal from “Normal People” are presenting the BAFTA for best entertainment performance.
And the BAFTA goes to “The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan.” “This award means so much to people who look like me and sound like me,” says Gilligan in his acceptance speech.
Next up is best entertainment program, presented by Broadway performer Billy Porter.
And the BAFTA goes to “Strictly Come Dancing.”
Himesh Patel from “EastEnders” and “Yesterday” is presenting supporting actress. And the BAFTA goes to Naomie Ackie for “The End of the F—ing World.”
Addressing “wild-hearted talent and enchanted humanity,” Jeff Goldblum is presenting the Reality and Constructed Factual category. “When they phoned me about this invitation I said BAFTA? I hafta,” he quipped.
“Race Across The World” wins.
Will Sharpe wins supporting actor BAFTA for “Giri/Haji.” “It was enough for me to get the opportunity to play the role,” says Sharpe.
Kermit and Miss Piggy are presenting the comedy entertainment program category.
“Taskmaster” wins the category.
A Virgin Media Must-See moment from “Gavin and Stacey” up now. The category is voted for by the public.
The female performance in a comedy program BAFTA goes to Sian Clifford for “Fleabag.”
“Oh wow. I don’t know if you can see, Phoebe. Oh my God. I don’t even believe in competition,” says Clifford, who is visibly emotional. “We are all winners here.”
Taraji P. Henson, Ruth Wilson, Matthew McConaughey and Grace Fori-Attah introducing BAFTA Special Award winner Idris Elba.
Receiving the award, Elba said, “I was like it’s a bit early for a lifetime award, but it’s a Special Award. And it is special. I don’t believe I’m very special but I believe I’ve been given an opportunity and I’ve handed it backwards to people who need an opportunity.”
“I’m hoping that from this point on, everyone sees you can’t make it without anyone else — that we all think about paying it backwards to the person behind you so they get an opportunity. I hope [one day] I get an award for acting but until I do I’m going to make more opportunities for [others].”
Presenting the Features award is Irish comedian Aisling Bea, fresh off her BAFTA craft award.
And the BAFTA goes to “The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan.” “This is really unexpected,” says Ranganathan. “Really fun show to do.” Ranganathan, stood in front of a garbage can podium, had life-size cut-outs of his producers behind him that were wheeled in and out of shot.
More Virgin Must-See moments, from “Line of Duty” and “Love Island.”
Jessica Hines presenting best male performance in a comedy program.
And the BAFTA goes to Jamie Demetriou for “Stath Lets Flats.”
Presenting mini-series are Michael Sheen and David Tennant.
And, “Chernobyl” wins. Accepting the award, producer Jane Featherstone said, “I hope we’ve struck a blow in defence of transparency and truth everywhere.”
A moving collage to commemorate those industry stalwarts who died this year, including Honor Blackman, Tazeen Ahmed, Clive James, Gary Rhodes, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Dame Vera Lynn and Sydney Lotterby.
“Yorker Ripper Files: A Very British Crime Story” wins the specialist factual category.
“Gavin and Stacey” wins the Virgin Must-See moment award. “Winning this BAFTA is immense,” says Ruth Jones. “This is icing on an already lovely cake,” says James Corden.
Presenting the scripted comedy BAFTA is Chris O’Dowd. “Stath Lets Flats” wins.
And the BAFTA for drama series goes to “The End of the F—ing World.”
Nina Sosanya presenting the BAFTA for leading actor. And, Jared Harris wins for “Chernobyl.”
Harris said the producers’ best decision was to put “every episode in Johan Renck’s hands. He’s a badass.” Harris also gave a shout-out to Kary Antholis, the former HBO and Cinemax exec who shepherded the series ahead of leaving WarnerMedia. “Ten minutes into the meeting, he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind my telling you this, but you weren’t our first choice. Do you want to know who was?’ And I said yes. And he said, ‘Daniel Day-Lewis.’ Daniel, don’t stay away for too long, I miss seeing you up there.”
And finally, leading actress, presented by Adrian Lester. Glenda Jackson wins for “Elizabeth is Missing.”
The event concludes with another song from Tim Minchin.