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The Big Nominees at This Year's TV BAFTAs

The BAFTA TV awards are the UK’s equivalent to the Emmys in the United States, a chance to celebrate all that’s best in British TV. And in recent years, the best of British TV has been conquering audiences all around the world. Shows like Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Derry Girls – just to pick those starting with a single letter – have become phenomena. The current crop of shows competing for the BAFTA this year are yet more proof that the industry is going stronger than ever.

Look, for example, at the titles competing for Best Drama Series. Unconventional crime drama Happy Valley wrapped up its third and final season triumphantly this year, and with two Best Drama wins for the previous two outings, it will be hoping to complete the hat-trick. Star Sarah Lancashire, currently on HBO in the lead role of Julia, is also nominated for Leading Actress – which she won last season – along with Supporting Actor Amit Shah and Supporting Actor Siobhan Finnerman. 

Also in its final season is Top Boy, the crime drama starring Ashley Walters (Bullet Boy, Cuffs) and Kane Robinson (The Kitchen). This fifth outing brought the story of Walters’ Dushane and Kane’s Sully to a dramatic end, and has earned Robinson a Leading Actor nomination as well as a Supporting Actress nod for Jasmine Jobson as “Jaq”. Another show that finished with a bang this year is Succession, which has added more acting nominations to its total. Brian Cox (The Escapist, Coriolanus) is nominated as Leading Actor for his towering performance as mogul and paterfamilias Logan Roy, alongside two of his squabbling would-be heirs: Matthew Macfadyen as hapless son-in-law Tom Wambsgans and Harriet Walter as ex-wife Lady Caroline. Wrapping up alongside that is The Crown, the epic story of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Following its final season there were acting nods for Dominic West (Colette, Brassic – and his co-star there, Joe Gilgun, is nominated for his leading performance in a comedy) as Prince Charles, Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Night Manager) as Princess Diana, Lesley Manville (Mrs Harris Goes To Paris) as Princess Margaret, and Salim Daw as Mohamed Al-Fayed. 

Happy Valley

Top Boy

But the outgoing giants are up against considerable competition this year. Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots) is a wry, unglamorous espionage tale that has audiences riveted with this season’s kidnapping and ransom plot; Lowden, who stood at the heart of that crisis, is also up for Best Supporting Actor. Another show in which he stars, The Gold, is up for Best Drama Series. That compelling story of the investigation into a massive gold heist also stars Hugh Bonneville (Paddington, Downton Abbey) and Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia, Tamara Drewe). 

There were other shows with multiple nominations. The Sixth Commandment is nominated for the Limited Drama prize, but also picked up acting nods for star Timothy Spall (Mr Turner, Secrets & Lies), Anne Reid (Last Tango In Halifax, Sanditon) and supporting actor Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People). In that Limited Drama category it’s up against stiff competition from medical care drama Best Interests, which also landed a Lead Actress nomination for Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe); Black Mirror: Demon 79, which also has a leading actress nod for Anjana Vasan (We Are Lady Parts). Finally in that category is The Long Shadow, about the search for the Yorkshire Ripper serial killer, which stars Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and David Morrissey (Britannia, The Hollow Crown). 

The Sixth Commandment

The Long Shadow

The Factual Series category, as usual, contains some astonishing and dramatic stories that are all the more powerful for being true. Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland is a stirring account of the Troubles from the team behind Once Upon A Time In Iraq. It’s up against Dublin Narcos, which looks at the explosion of drug use after Ireland’s economy took off and how police struggled to get to grips with it, as well as Lockerbie, the story of the horrific Lockerbie bombing of 1988 and its aftermath. Rounding out the category is Evacuation, the tense account of the British withdrawal from Kabul in 2021. 

If you need some light relief after those dramatic accounts, the good news is that the Scripted Comedy category offers wonderful light relief. Leading the nominations is Extraordinary, the account of a world where everyone has a superpower – except our heroine, Jen (Máiréad Tyers from Belfast, nominated for Female Performance In A Comedy). Not only is the show up for the Scripted Comedy prize, but Tyers is up against her own cast mate Sofia Oxenham for the Female Performance prize. 

Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland


The scripted comedy category also includes the very fun Dreaming Whilst Black, with nominations for leading man Adjani Salmon (Chivalry, Doctor Who), as well as thoughtful comedies Big Boys and Such Brave Girls. Another one to watch out for in the acting awards is Black Ops, with nods for leading man Hammed Animashaun (The Festival, Black Mirror) as an undercover cop wildly out of his depth, and Gbemisola Ikumelo (Famalam, A League Of Their Own) as a well-meaning community officer. 

And of course there are many more. Look out for The Last Of Us stars Bella Ramsay (Game Of Thrones) and Nico Parker; Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You) for The Lazarus Project; Steve Coogan (Philomena) nominated for Jimmy Saville drama The Reckoning; Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech) up for her leading role in Nolly; David Tennant (Doctor Who) up for Good Omens; Jamie Demetriou (Stath Lets Flats, Barbie) for multiple characters in A Whole Lifetime With Jamie Demetriou; Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man) for A Murder At The End Of The World; Mawaan Rizwan (Sex Education) for Juice; Taj Atwal (Line Of Duty) for Hullraisers; stand-up comic Bridget Christie for menopause comedy The Change; and Roisin Gallagher (The Fall) for The Lovers

Dreaming Whilst Black

Good Omens

The 2024 British Academy Television Awards will be handed out on 12 May, so not long to wait now for all the nominees. But whoever takes home the BAFTA mask prize on the night, it’s been another stellar year for these extraordinary talents.