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Behind the Scenes: BAFTA TV Awards 2012

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In the sweltering heat of an Indian summer, I joined a veritable constellation of stars at the Royal Festival Hall for the 2012 BAFTA Television Awards.

The south bank venue was bustling with camera crews and crowds edging forward to get a glimpse of, or even an autograph from… Nick Hewer. I guess I arrived a little too early. The red carpet was, in this case, not red at all. Provided by the Plantation Rug Co., it was actually in a proud Union Jack pattern, befitting an award ceremony which honours the achievements of our nation’s televised productions over the past year.

Things were no cooler inside the building, and the strict black tie dress code was certainly slowing some people down. Busily fielding questions from the press, host Dara O’Briain was in the full focus of the sun as well as the cameras- an unenviable position to be in- and Inbetweeners star Simon Bird was equally busily with signings and pictures. After an hour or so the building was immensely crowded, and in the stage area people flocked to take their seats.

Never before had I been in a room with so many faces I recognized, and so few people I personally knew. Michael McIntyre, Jon Snow, Ricky Gervais… I was so absorbed that I bumped straight into Terry Pratchett, with embarrassed apologies all around. Failing to learn my lesson, I then walked into notorious rapper Professor Green, and when my heart resumed beating I was a lot more careful. It’s always fun to bump into celebrities, but usually not literally.

Despite the huge turnout of television personalities both nominated and otherwise, it was obvious from the beginning that one was missing. Sir David Attenborough, though his intention to come had been confirmed, was not in attendance- much to my disappointment. Since Frozen Planet failed to win either of the awards for which it was nominated, however- losing first to Mummifying Alan in the specialist factual category, and then to Celebrity Juice for the Youtube audience award- perhaps attending wouldn’t have been worth his while.

Under the careful management of Dara the award ceremony was soon underway, with Terry Pratchett being the first to collect an award for his series on assisted suicide, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die. It was soon apparent that Appropriate Adult was to be the real winner of the evening, as it went on to claim BAFTAs for leading actor (Dominic West), leading actress (Emily Watson) and supporting actress (Monica Dolan). Despite this, however, Appropriate Adult lost the mini-series award to the proud team behind This is England ’88.

This, of course, meant that Sherlock -which had already been the subject of some public backlash over its scant nominations- was only able to claim one award: supporting actor (Andrew Scott). Even so, Steven Moffat still managed to take home the special award for his work, among other things, on the series. In his acceptance speech he also mentioned his work on Dr Who, another public favourite neglected by BAFTA. There’s always next year though -and if a time lord can’t be patient, then who can?

Much to host Dara O’Briain’s disappointment, the entertainment award went to the absent Graham Norton. Coronation Street reclaimed the soap and continuing drama award, and both the Royal Wedding coverage and The Great British Bake-Off were recognised with due patriotism. The Young Apprentice beat An Idiot Abroad to the reality & constructed factual award -as Lord Sugar crowed to Ricky Gervais: “I really thought you had that one, Rick- bad luck. Obviously Made in Chelsea never stood a chance.”

The speeches of award winners and award presenters alike ranged from the convivial and witty to the forced and unamusing. Alexander Armstrong’s heavily scripted riff with Jennifer Agutter and Alex Jones’ conversation with Bruno Tonioli left the audience silent and frosty despite the heat. Not so Rolf Harris’ eventual appearance onstage to receive his BAFTA fellowship; row by row the audience rose to applaud the Australian octogenarian for his outstanding contribution to British television over a thirty-year career. As Robert Lindsay, who introduced him, pointed out, Harris has been a part of all of our lives over the years, and there is no doubt that the accolade is well deserved.

Despite Timothy Spall coming close to presenting the supporting actress award before the clips were shown, and Rolf Harris referring to Dara as Darren when he thanked him, the ceremony went off without a hitch. As black-tied attendees retreated, past renewed crowds, into the balmy South Bank night, and celebrities were chauffeured off in air-conditioned cars, there could be little doubt that the BAFTA Television Awards 2012 has been one award ceremony where the heat of the competition had been matched only by the heat of the day on which it was held.




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