This slimmed-down, socially distanced Baftas was a happy surprise

Hosted by Richard Ayoade in a void, it was the best possible argument for scrapping in-person awards ceremonies

By all accounts, the results of this year’s television Bafta awards would always be secondary to its delivery method. Hosted by Richard Ayoade in a silent black void, with winners either accepting their awards via Zoom or prerecorded iPhone videos, the ceremony had the potential to be a complete disaster. However, it was a refreshingly brisk and unfussily banged-out highlights reel of a show, with none of the bloated self-congratulation that usually renders this sort of thing unwatchable.

And yet the results nevertheless managed to throw up a volley of surprises. Since the Baftas effectively marked the finishing line of its global awards marathon, Fleabag was always expected to be the big winner of the night. But things didn’t completely go to plan. The first surprise of the night came during the best female performance in a comedy category. To be clear, Fleabag won this award. But Phoebe Waller-Bridge did not. Instead, it went to her onscreen sister Sian Clifford. It was a result that nobody could have predicted; not least Clifford herself, whose acceptance speech was so punctuated with moments of such shock that she almost dropped the phone she was filming herself on.

Then came Fleabag’s next supposed lock, in the best scripted comedy category. Except that instead went to Channel Four’s Stath Lets Flats, whose creator Jamie Demetriou also won the award for best male performance in a comedy. Demetriou also beat Waller-Bridge to the comedy writing award in the Bafta TV Craft Awards two weeks ago. It’s a thoroughly deserved winner in both cases, arguably the most joyfully pure comedy series of the last five years. What’s more, it puts an end to the gnawing sensation that Stath Lets Flats was doomed to be a perennial underdog. Hopefully these awards are the start of a well-earned corrective period.

Chernobyl bagged best mini-series; its star Jared Harris rightfully winning in the lead actor category. The End of The F***ing World won best drama. Glenda Jackson won best leading actress for Elizabeth is Missing. Gavin and Stacey won the Must-See Moment award, an odd publicly-voted category that handily doubled as a kind of spoiler free-for-all designed to punish anyone who didn’t manage to watch every possible second of television this year.

Due to the fat-free nature of the show, several minor awards were crammed into a post-show montage, which is bound to upset some. But on the whole, the slimmed-down, socially distanced Baftas were a happy surprise, and possibly the best possible argument for scrapping in-person awards ceremonies altogether.

Contributor

Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Partridge, politics and period pomp: the must-see TV shows of 2019
Drama catches on to Brexit, Shane Meadows goes to Ireland, Helen Mirren plays Catherine the Great, and winter comes to Westeros

Lanre Bakare, Gwilym Mumford and Stuart Heritage

02, Jan, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Baftas reward diversity and longevity in a post-Covid era
BAME nominees take giant strides at awards as Glenda Jackson wins a first gong aged 84

Hannah J Davies

31, Jul, 2020 @9:37 PM

Article image
Emmys 2019: Fleabag and Game of Thrones win big on Brit-dominated night
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy was the surprise victor while the final season of HBO’s fantasy drama picked up the most Emmy awards

Adrian Horton

23, Sep, 2019 @9:46 AM

Article image
Killing Eve takes top prizes in Bafta TV awards 2019
Jodie Comer wins best leading actress award as Phoebe Waller-Bridge is praised for her ‘glass-shattering genius’

Jim Waterson Media editor

12, May, 2019 @9:04 PM

Article image
TV Baftas 2017: meet the actors of the year
The Virgin TV British Academy Television Awards rounds off another fantastic year for UK talent. In this remarkable portfolio of some of the biggest names on the small screen reveal their highlights from the TV year

Shahesta Shaitly Sarah Hughes

14, May, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Bafta TV awards nominations 2020: Netflix and HBO dominate at the BBC's expense
There is little for the corporation to shout about on the shortlists. Spare a thought, too, for Jed Mercurio, Andrew Scott and Martin Freeman

Mark Lawson

04, Jun, 2020 @12:17 PM

Article image
Baftas battle between Doctor Who and Sherlock
BBC1 dramas go head to head for best actor award, while E4's Misfits picks up four nominations

John Plunkett

26, Apr, 2011 @5:48 PM

Article image
'It is complete': final episode of Fleabag to air on Monday
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hit BBC show bows out after two series with a ‘beautiful, perfect ending’

Jim Waterson Media editor

05, Apr, 2019 @9:29 AM

Article image
Kristin Scott Thomas to star in second series of Fleabag
The actor is joined by Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw for the latest run of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy, which is centred on the theme of ‘Fleabag v God’

Gwilym Mumford

24, Jan, 2019 @1:12 PM

Article image
BBC's Sherlock wins best drama award at Baftas

Series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman beats Downton Abbey and Misfits at TV awards ceremony

John Plunkett and Josh Halliday

22, May, 2011 @10:32 PM