BAFTA TV 2013 - The Winners Are....

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards 2013 for television happened on Sunday evening in London.  There was some surprise winners and some lovely tears on stage and I am sure off stage.  The whole TV industry is represented at this award show, from news, documentary, drama, sports and live events, entertainment, comedy, reality TV and soaps  - the Brits give each form its due. What is great to see is the depth of talent and scope of the industry that is often overshadowed by its US cousins.

The clear winner of the night was the concept of a nation looking at and questioning big and small events that have impacted Britain as a nation as well as the attitudes of its citizens.  The factual awards focused on the big events such as the winner of the Sports and Live Events 2013 - the production team of The London 2012 Paralympic Games.  As one of the production team says in this clip below, "It is not very often you actually see someone changing their perception".  The same can be said of the winner of the Single Documentary 2013 - 7/7 One Day in London and the winner of Best News Coverage 2013 - Hillsborough The Truth At Last (Granada Reports).  Both subjects that have been reported about and discussed over and over again, but these winners have changed people's perceptions of well known events.  That is good television.  

The fiction awards focused on the small events.  The Single Drama winner was Murder, which focuses on the missing moments in an investigation with protagonists speak directly to the camera telling there version of the story.  Winner of the Drama Series was Last Tango in Halifax about two widowed pensioners who rekindle a romantic relationship.  Television about people over 35 years of age.  What a shock. the Situation Comedy winner is Twenty Twelve a mocumentary about the lead up to the London Olympics.  A format taken from the Australians and made very British.   

The individual awards showcased the incredible talent in the UK, with the old, the Bafta Fellowship was awarded to Michael Palin, the new, Ben Whishaw winning Leading Actor  for Richard II, and the multi-talented, with Olivia Colman winning Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme for Twenty Twelve and Supporting Actress (Drama) for The Accused (Mo's Story). But what was truly great is that these are just some of the winners.  Just check out the great programs, actors and actresses who were nominated.  See the complete list here.  

Here is one of the fantastic self depreciating speeches from Olivia Colman from the night.

A Great Second Hour

The second season of the BBC’s six-part drama, The Hour is a perfect example of how to make a good thing even better.  Creator and writer Abi Morgan has built on what worked in the first season, the relationship and chemistry between the three leads, the behind the scenes of broadcast journalism and a comment on 1950s Britain, and has added a more realistic overarching political story that connects better with the creation of The Hour, the most important 60 minutes of the week. 

As the show is set in the 1950s, The Hour keeps getting compared to Mad Men.  This is a trite and lightweight comparison based on the window dressing of men and women in a media industry smoking and drinking in a decade from the mid 20th century.  The structures of the shows are vastly different.  The Hour is s traditionally structured six part drama that is made every year in Britain. For example, White Heat, Case Histories, Call The Midwife, Misfits... the list goes on.  Mad Men just happens to be set in the 1960s in New York but it is about the creation and delusion of identity.  Each season is quite different to the one before and there is no guarantee the next episode is going to be structured like the one you just watched.    These comparisons should be left behind. 

The second season of The Hour continues the quality from the first season.  It is a well written, acted and directed.  The best way to watch this show is in one setting as it is great to sink into this world and become witness to what is happening.  This season centres around the ongoing investigation into corruption and vice in Soho, London, which gives us an insight into some of the very real social problems in the United Kingdom at the time.  Britain had spent 10 years rebuilding after the Second World War, there is a shift in working class London with the influx of immigrants from post-colonial countries, the nuclear arms race has started and the US begins to flex its new superpower status on the world stage. 

As in the first series, Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is the producer, Hector Madden (Dominic West) is the face of the program, and Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) comes back from his travels around the world to be the co-presenter and chasers of stories.   I wondered how Abi Morgan was going to keep this trio’s interwoven relationship interesting and real, without dropping off into the soap opera abyss.  But she manages it with the help of three great actors.   However, the show is nearly stolen from beneath them by Peter Capaldi, joins the series as Randall Brown, the new Head of News and Current Affairs, and Anna Chancellor as veteran journalist Lix Storm.  Peter Capaldi and Anna Chancellor are two of the finest British actors and they prove it in these six episodes.  Their story is beautifully done.   

The only niggle I have with regards to character development is that Bel seems to overruled at every turn by either her new boss, Randall or told what to do by her best friend and subordinate, Freddie.  It is a bit undermining to try and say that this woman is a very good TV news producer, when she is not solving some of the problems or making some of the decisions for herself.  But don’t let that niggle stop you.  Put some time aside to watch the six episodes in one sitting and enjoy great drama made well.