Olivia Colman wins twice in otherwise unpredictable Bafta TV awards

BBC's coverage of Olympics loses out to Channel 4's Paralympics programming

It was the television event of the year with a peak audience of more than 23 million viewers. But the BBC's acclaimed coverage of the London Olympics failed to win a single prize at Sunday's Bafta television awards.

The BBC lost out to Channel 4, which took home the sports and live event prize for its Paralympics 2012 programming, and to Sky Atlantic's fantasy drama Game of Thrones in a special award voted for by viewers, despite having a fraction of the audience that tuned in to the Olympics.

In a night of Bafta surprises, ITV documentary The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which exposed the former Top of the Pops presenter as a sexual predator and plunged the BBC into crisis, failed to win the current affairs award. It was beaten by BBC2's The Shame of the Catholic Church, part of its This World documentary series.

More predictable, perhaps, was the crowning of actor Olivia Colman as the queen of the small screen.

Colman, whose status as a household name was confirmed by her leading role in ITV's hit murder mystery Broadchurch, won the best female in a comedy award for her role in BBC2's Olympics spoof Twenty Twelve – which was also named best sitcom – and the supporting actress prize for BBC1 drama Accused.

Colman thanked her husband, her first drama teacher and her "mum and dad for babysitting". She described Twenty Twelve writer John Morton as a "modest genius". Referring to Jimmy McGovern, who wrote Accused, she said: "I feel a bit of a fraud. When he writes a script, you can't go wrong."

While the BBC's Olympics coverage missed out, there was a special award for Clare Balding, one of the corporation's main London 2012 presenters, who also anchored the Paralympics on Channel 4.

"I'm a little bit embarrassed to be singled out among a wealth of really good broadcasting talent on both Games, but damn pleased it was me," said Balding.

"We're probably living in the strongest era ever of women's sports presenters and I think you need a generation that is strong to help inspire the nine-, 10- and 11-year-olds who now want to do that."

Balding's Paralympics co-presenter Ade Adepitan, a former Paralympian, said he was in shock and used the award to thank Channel 4 for "allowing us to be ourselves".

He added later: "Channel 4 took what a lot of people thought was a risk in bringing in relatively new presenters to front the show but most of us have had Paralympics experience, or experience of disability. We were able to give people a different or deeper insight into the sport."

BBC2 was the biggest winner on the night with eight awards, including Mary Berry's cookery competition The Great British Bake Off and acting prizes for Ben Whishaw and Simon Russell Beale for their roles in its Hollow Crown season of Shakespeare plays.

A tearful Sheridan Smith won a Bafta with her first nomination for her role in ITV Great Train Robbery drama Mrs Biggs, while the best drama series prize went to BBC1's Last Tango in Halifax. Anne Reid, who starred with Derek Jacobi in the romantic drama written by Sally Wainwright, said: "I am so glad the BBC has decided at last to do love stories about people who are over 35."

Reid, 77, was warmly applauded by the audience of TV stars and executives when she told them: "Some of us do have quite interesting lives when we get to 70."

Steve Coogan won the award for best male in a comedy programme for the return of Alan Partridge in Sky Atlantic's Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life.

It was one of three awards for Sky Atlantic, which also won for two acquired programmes, Game of Thrones and Girls, both of which are made by US cable channel, HBO.

There were no prizes for BBC2 drama's about Alfred Hitchcock, The Girl, despite its four nominations or for another BBC2 drama, Parade's End, which was nominated twice.

BBC3's Afghanistan war documentary Our War won the factual series Bafta for the second successive year, while the news coverage prize went to ITV's regional news programme, Granada Reports, for Hillsborough: The Truth at Last.

Graham Norton, who presented the awards at London's Royal Festival Hall on Sunday, won the entertainment programme prize for his Friday night chatshow on BBC1.

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly failed to win despite being nominated twice, losing out in the reality and constructed factual category, where they were nominated for ITV's I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, to E4's Made in Chelsea.

Other winners included another chatshow host, Channel 4's Alan Carr, artist Grayson Perry for his Channel 4 series All In The Best Possible Taste and BBC1's soap EastEnders. Former Monty Python star Michael Palin was awarded the Bafta fellowship.

The BBC won a total of 15 awards with BBC1 picking up four, followed by Channel 4 and Sky Atlantic (three each), ITV and BBC3 (two) and BBC4 and E4 (one).

Contributors

John Plunkett and Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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