BBC biggest winner at Baftas as Happy Valley and Damilola head award roll call

Comedy laurels go to newcomer Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag, as The Crown fails to live up to expectations for Netflix

Happy Valley dominated this year’s television Baftas in a night of sweeping success for the BBC, but disappointment for the Netflix streaming service as its opulent drama The Crown walked away with nothing.

It is the second time Sally Wainwright’s police procedural series won the Bafta for best drama, while Sarah Lancashire was named best leading actress for her portrayal of Sgt Catherine Cawood.

Picking up her award at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Sunday night, Lancashire paid tribute to the “phenomenally talented Sally Wainwright” and thanked fellow nominee Claire Foy, star of The Crown, for “the best 10 hours I’ve ever spent under a duvet”.

The £100m Netflix drama about a young Elizabeth II, written by Peter Morgan, led the nominations but lost out in all major categories.

Damilola, Our Loved Boy, the BBC drama telling the story of the 10-year-old killed in London in 2000 and his family’s fight for justice, was also one of the the biggest winners of the night. It was named best single drama, and Wunmi Mosaku, who played Damilola’s mother Gloria, won the award for best supporting actress.

In one of the most moving speeches of the night, producer Colin Barr was joined on stage by Damilola’s father Richard and older brother Tunde, who worked closely with those making the drama.

“There are a couple of people who are up here with us for whom this was much more than just a film, this was their lives,” said Barr. “If there’s ever an example of how the worst humanity has to offer can sometimes bring out the best in us as human beings, Richard is it. There were time we were asking him to relive the most painful things any father, any husband, could live and he never once lost his patience. He always encouraged us to go to the part so the stories that were most difficult because that was where the truth was.”

Richard Taylor used the ceremony to dedicate the award to his son and wife, and to appeal to the “young people on the streets killing themselves. Parents are crying, mothers are crying. The surge of killing has gone up recently in the city of London. I beg you all please stop the unnecessary killing of innocent young people, please spread the message.”

Mosaku also dedicated her award to the Taylor family, describing the moment as “bittersweet”.

The award for leading actor went to Adeel Akhtar for his role in BBC3 drama, Murdered By My Father, an account of a true-life honour killing of an Asian girl. Akhtar said he wanted to “dedicate this to my wife and my nine-month old baby who remind me to be kind and compassionate every day”.

Best female performance in a comedy went to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag, her filthily funny series about a sex-obsessed and fragile protagonist struggling in the wake of her best friend’s death.

“I promised I wouldn’t say anything rude but I have been wet-dreaming about getting a Bafta my whole life,” said Waller-Bridge, who beat co-star Olivia Colman to the award. “Most of all I want to thank my mother who said: ‘Darling you can be anything you want to be as long as you’re outrageous.’”

Waller-Bridge had initially said she would not be taking on a second series, but recently told the Guardian that she “didn’t want to wring the character dry so I had to see if I could find the right idea. I think I have now.”

People Just Do Nothing, the BBC3 comedy series about pirate radio station Kurupt FM, won the accolade of best scripted comedy, beating Fleabag. BBC1’s The Night Manager failed to earn nominations in most major categories, but Tom Hollander won best supporting actor, beating Jared Harris and John Lithgow, who both appeared in The Crown.

Best mini-series went to National Treasure, landing writer Jack Thorne his fifth Bafta for his drama based around historical sex abuse cases such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.

“There seem to have been a lot of people tonight talking about untold stories and this is for those who were brave enough to come forward and those whose scars were too deep to do so,” said Thorne.

The provocative BBC2 reality series Muslims Like Us, which brought together 10 Muslims in one house, won best reality and constructed factual.

David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II won best specialist factual and Virgin TV’s must-see moment, for the footage of snakes chasing baby iguanas, beating competition from Ed Balls’ performance of Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing,

Steve Coogan won best male performance in a comedy for Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle, while best international series went to The People Vs OJ Simpson. Picking up the award, Cuba Gooding Jr said: “I’m a boy from the hood and now I’m on this stage picking up gold.”

BBC documentary Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, which gave camera phones to people making the perilous journey being smuggled into Europe, won best factual series.

Hassan Akkad, whose journey from Damascus to England was a focal part of the series, collected the award. He said: “Since we’ve made this documentary, over 10,000 people have died trying to find refuge in Europe. They are not just numbers. It goes to them and their untold stories.”

Politics was noticeably absent from this year’s ceremony, with nominees warned prior to broadcast that “we are in a general election period so be aware if you mention anything in that territory, it may be cut” to keep in line with rules about the BBC’s impartiality.

It followed pre-emptive attempts by Bafta to curb possibly controversial speeches in the run-up to the upcoming election. An email sent to all nominees, written by Pruthvi Pandit, Bafta’s head of television, asked them to offer “some insight into the winning programme by including a short anecdote or an interesting detail about the production” in their awards speeches.

Nominees were told that, as is the case every year, they should keep their speeches to less than one minute. If nominees spoke too long, a clock appeared on the autocue as “gentle reminder to wrap up”.

Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, 71, was given this year’s prestigious Bafta fellowship, which she called the “grandest and most unexpected prize I have ever had the joy of receiving.”

The Bafta for single documentary went to BBC2’s Hillsborough, about the football stadium disaster, which was commissioned five years ago.

Charlie Brooker won best comedy entertainment programme for his 2016 Wipe. “2016 was a really horrible year so being commended for summarising the news is a bit like being commended for doing a really accurate painting of a haemorrhoid,” said Brooker.

The television Baftas were presented for the first time by Sue Perkins, replacing the host of nine-years, Graham Norton, who was still in Kiev after hosting Saturday night’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“I know what you’re thinking, not another awards show presented by a woman,” said Perkins sarcastically. “When will it end? I find it a little like Halley’s comet but a little less frequent.”

Making reference to having left the Great British Bake Off in the hands of new presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding she wished the “best of luck to the new Bake Off team. They’re going to need it. They’re about to discover what Mel and I left in the groundsheet.”


Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The GuardianTramp

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