Breakthrough Baftas

Breakthrough Baftas

April 24, 2023

Ones to Watch

A host of first-time winners were crowned at this year’s Bafta Television Craft Awards. DQ was there to speak to winners including Derry Girls’ Lisa McGee, This is Going to Hurt writer Adam Kay and some of the creatives behind House of the Dragon.

After three seasons of her acclaimed Northern Ireland-set comedy Derry Girls, it’s remarkable that creator and writer Lisa McGee hadn’t won a Bafta Award – until now. At the Bafta Television Craft Awards 2023, McGee was one of a number of first-time winners in the fiction categories as House of the Dragon and This is Going to Hurt proved to be the biggest hits on the night with three awards each.

House of the Dragon, HBO’s prequel to Game of Thrones, earned wins for Amanda Knight, Barrie Gower and Rosalia Culora for Make-Up & Hair Design; Alastair Sirkett, Doug Cooper, Martin Seeley, Paula Fairfield, Tim Hands and Adele Fletcher for Sound: Fiction; and Angus Bickerton, Nikeah Forde, Asa Shoul, Mike Dawson, MPC and Pixomodo for Special, Visual & Graphic Effects.

Meanwhile, BBC medical drama This is Going to Hurt also brought prizes for first-time winner Adam Kay for Writer: Drama for the series based on his memoir as a junior doctor; Selina MacArthur, also a first-time winner, for Editing: Fiction; and Nina Gold and Martin Ware for Scripted Casting.

The Emerging Talent: Fiction award went to writer Pete Jackson for Somewhere Boy, while other first-time Bafta winners were William Stefan Smith, Director: Fiction for Top Boy; Jane Petrie, Costume Design for The Essex Serpent; Nicôle Lecky, Bryan Senti, Kwame ‘KZ’ Kwei-Armah JR, Original Music: Fiction for Mood; Chas Appeti, Photography & Lighting: Fiction for Jungle; and Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, Production Design for Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Elsewhere, Peter Anderson Studio won Titles and Graphic Identity for Bad Sisters, while the Television Craft Special Award was presented to Alison Barnett in recognition of her pioneering role as one of the first female heads of production in the UK television industry.

At the ceremony in central London, DQ was on hand to chat to some of the winners about their award-winning work.

Emerging Talent: Fiction: Pete Jackson
Somewhere Boy writer Jackson triumphed in a category that also included Big Boys writer Jack Rooke, My Name is Leon director Lynette Linton and Mood writer Nicôle Lecky. Jackson is currently adapting Nick Cave novel The Death of Bunny Munro.

It’s weird, I only started writing the day I gave up drinking, and writing saved me. I feel very lucky to have met the creative team [from Clerkenwell Films and Channel 4] I worked with on Somewhere Boy. It was such an extraordinary collaborative effort shepherding it from an idea I had one day walking down a road all the way to standing here. It’s been a great journey.

[Somewhere Boy] explores a lot of themes that are very important to me – second chances, guilt, shame, friendship and love, all in a high-concept idea. For a first TV show, to work with the people I worked with and in the confidence they gave me and that they had, I feel extraordinarily lucky.

What this [award] proves is that whatever weird, long, crazy journey you take to the point of picking up a pen is the right journey. It makes you unique, your story unique and that’s what’s amazing about writing – there’s no barrier to entry. The older you are, the more experienced you are, otherwise everything’s up for grabs and anyone can do it. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Both Channel 4 and Clerkenwell were incredibly bold and instead of trying to stymie my voice or shy away from ideas, they actually pushed me further. They’re fearless, brave and bold and exactly the people we need in the cultural landscape of this country.

Make-Up & Hair Design: Amanda Knight, Barrie Gower and Rosalia Culora
The team behind House of the Dragon, which tells the story of House Targaryen 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, scooped this award against competition from the artists who worked on Dangerous Liaisons, Gangs of London and Wednesday.

L-R: Amanda Knight, Barrie Gower and Rosalia Culora

Knight: There’s a huge team of us, it’s massive, and each of our blond [Targaryen] characters have a huge amount of work – a couple of hours in the chair. They’ve got to look real. If you haven’t got a true Targaryen, then you haven’t got a show really. My background is film, and this is the first TV I’ve done. The scale of it – they want film-standard work but it’s fast-paced and we have two units [filming] simultaneously – is massive. We all underestimated it, I think, even the producers. On Game of Thrones, they had one Targaryen. Now we have families of them and it’s really hard. But I think we’ve nailed it.

Gower: There are tons of principal cast with complex hair, make-up and prosthetics as well. It’s the whole gamut across the board. It’s a huge team effort, and there are a lot of hair and make-up changes. Paddy [Considine, as King Viserys], in particular, had a lot of changes over the season. He probably had five or six different looks as his deterioration progressed over the series. He spent a long time in the make-up trailer – hours and hours and hours – but he’s a beautiful, lovely guy who just makes our job so much easier.

Culora: The biggest challenge for us from a hair point of view is these wigs are not forgiving and if they’re due a close-up at 18.00 and they’ve been on since 05.00 with the prosthetics and make-up, it’s about keeping the realism. But we’ve got an amazing team. Everyone’s so on it. This is an award for the whole department.

Editing: Fiction: Selina MacArthur
MacArthur triumphed for her work on medical drama This is Going to Hurt against nominees from The Crown, Andor and Slow Horses.

Editing is like rewriting – the writer hands it over to the director and the whole crew and the actors do their interpretation. Then by the time you get into the edit, for me personally, I’m very much a director’s editor. The only way to really tell a story is to tell it with the director so we have a combined vision. I feel like a really good edit with a really great director is finding what the heart of the story is and holding on to that and really protecting that and seeing it through to the end. Theres are lots of amazing creative voices whenever you’re telling any story, so it’s about being really clear about what you want but having an open heart and mind.

The heart of This is Going to Hurt was always going to be Adam [played by Ben Whishaw] and the NHS, and the two run together. I feel like the general public do love the NHS, even though it’s rough around the edges, so I just wanted to be true to the beauty of the NHS. It’s saved my life before and I’ve experienced death with them. I have a real attachment to it, and it was beautiful to tell a junior doctor’s story, staying true to his heart by telling the rough without being too off-putting.

It was the first time I’d ever worked with [director] Lucy Forbes. Within days, we found kindred spirits in each other. There wasn’t once when we disagreed. She’s a strong person and I’m a strong person, but thankfully we wanted the same things. Mixing drama with comedy is tricky, and it’s about knowing which drama to push or which comedy to push. Me and Lucy were always on the same page.

Titles & Graphic Identity: Peter Anderson Studio
This award was presented to the team behind the opening credits of Apple TV+’s Bad Sisters, a chain reaction sequence that features props from the show and numerous handmade contraptions inspired by the darkly comic drama, set against PJ Harvey’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Who By Fire. Other nominees included the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Life After Life and The Essex Serpent.

Annabel Baldwin and Peter Anderson

Annabel Baldwin: I’ve loved titles since I was a teenager; it’s always something I’ve wanted to get into. Titles are like opening the curtain into a show – they set the scene and get the audience in the mood to watch the show, so they’re really important. They’re your first impression.

To get people not to press that ‘skip intro’ button is really hard. With Bad Sisters, we tried to include so many clues that people wanted to watch again and again. The mood changes each time you watch it. The script and the storyline lent itself to this Rube Goldberg murder-machine contraption.

[Series star and exec producer] Sharon Horgan is friendly with PJ Harvey and she came back and said she’d done this cover of Leonard Cohen. Soundtracks are often made in tandem with the titles and bounce off each other, but it suited it perfectly.

Peter Anderson: We condense 10 hours of drama into 30 seconds, and what’s incredible with people like Apple is they are pushing the boundaries now. Titles are part of the drama, and when they invest in shows like Bad Sisters, everybody gets a reward from that because they extend the drama. They’re the only scenes you watch 10 times.

Watch the sequence here.

Photography & Lighting: Fiction: Chas Appeti
Appeti’s work on drama Jungle, about the lives of two strangers connected through the world of UK grime and drill music, marks the first Bafta win for a Prime Video UK original production. The category also included cinematographers from Pistol, The Tourist and I Am Ruth.

Chas Appeti

Appeti, co-creator and cinematographer: It was a lot of hard work from both [Jungle co-creator and director Junior Okoli and me] and it’s all come to this. We put a lot of time and effort into the show. It’s not just about the project but the whole journey we’ve been on. It’s a lot. Our synergy working is pretty seamless so we both knew what we wanted to achieve and were confident in what we wanted to do, so we just grabbed that. Everything was considered and deliberate. We had a vision of how we wanted it to feel.

Junior Okoli: More than anything, life can be tough in television when you’re from where we’re from. There’s a lot of toil and struggle. When you finally get to a point when your work is recognised, it’s overwhelming. Both of us are from south London originally, and from our initial conversations about what we wanted for ourselves, to be stood here now is a lot. We wanted to tell a story visually as well as sonically. We wanted people to be thrilled by what they saw and for each frame to be memorable. We just set about doing that even before the script was developed.

Sound: Fiction: Alastair Sirkett, Douglas Cooper, Martin Seeley, Paula Fairfield, Tim Hands and Adele Fletcher
The sound team behind House of the Dragon picked up this award against nominees from SAS Rogue Heroes, Slow Horses and The Crown.

L-R: Alastair Sirkett, Martin Seeley, Tim Hands, Paula Fairfield, Adele Fletcher and Douglas Cooper

Sirkett, supervising sound editor: Taking over something everyone knew as Game of Thrones was quite a task, to come in when people had seen eight seasons and knew that world. It was only ever going to work with a lot of support from the people who had done it before – Miguel Sapochnik, who was one of the directors on Game of Thrones, and Ryan [J Condal, series creator], and the producers. It wasn’t hard finding people who wanted to work on the job. We’re very lucky to have some really fantastic technicians, engineers and editors. It was a very enjoyable, very supportive job.

Paula had done the whole of Game of Thrones and did all the creature design, so I don’t think it would have been possible without having that DNA, which we had with Tim as well. Having never worked on it and coming into it, I knew I needed to surround myself with people who understood that world and would support me in supervising and pushing the job forwards.

We weren’t changing the wheel. We weren’t trying to create a new place. We had to get a very passionate audience from the biggest show in the world immediately back onside and drop them back into something that was very comfortable for them acoustically and action-wise. I think we did that, and hopefully today shows we managed to achieve that.

Special, Visual & Graphic Effects: Angus Bickerton, Nikeah Forde, Asa Shoul, Mike Dawson, MPC and Pixomondo
Another win for the House of the Dragon against competition from The Sandman, Andor and His Dark Materials.

Nikeah Forde and Asa Shoul

Forde, visual effects producer: There’s a huge amount of collaboration. In visual effects especially, it’s about working with as many departments as possible, because our job comes at the end. We gather everyone else’s best work and we try to make it better. That’s the joy of ours, and then Asa comes along and he makes our work even better. He gets to add the gold dust.

Shoul, colourist: The tough thing about this was it was hugely ambitious for a first episode. Everyone thinks it’s a continuation of Game of Thrones, but it was a completely different team. The expectations were very high and everyone had to step up, so it was just massive, and it went out weekly and there was an air date – all the things you don’t want, because it has to be done. In the end, we had three colouring suites going pretty much 24 hours a day delivering one episode a week, with the guys doing new versions of every single visual effects shot. There were over 10,000 visual effects shots probably coming through, so the scale of it was like doing 10 movies.

[Seeing the reaction to the show] was a huge relief. I didn’t work on Game of Thrones and everyone was saying, ‘Is it going to be as good?’ People were disappointed with season eight, which I wasn’t. I hadn’t watched it, so before I started working on this, I watched eight years [of Thrones] in five weeks and I loved season eight. So the expectation to deliver good or better was huge and we were very concerned. The visual effects helped that because it was like, ‘No, we’re going to go even bigger. Ten dragons, whatever.’

Original Music: Fiction: Nicôle Lecky, Bryan Senti and Kwame ‘KZ’ Kwei-Armah Jr
Lecky created, starred in and co-wrote the music for Mood, which is based on her play Superhoe. It focuses on Sasha, a wannabe singer and rapper who is drawn into the alluring world of social media. Fellow nominees in the category included Slow Horses, The English and The Responder.

L-R: Kwame ‘Kz’ Kwei-Armah, Nicole Lecky and Bryan Senti

Lecky: There was music in the play and when the show was commissioned, I was really hopeful I could write songs for it, but I wanted to do it even bigger and even better. It meant I had to add score, and I wanted to work with the best people who I thought could take the show to new heights. That’s when Kwame and Bryan came in and it just became something even more amazing. I’m very proud of that.

I would write the scripts and include these placeholder songs with the narrative and the story of what I felt it would be – I’d either have lyrics or an idea of the sound – and then I’d go to Kwame and he’d send me beats and we’d work on songs. Sometimes we had to throw songs out, and sometimes then when Bryan came in, in post, and he was working on the score, he would use some of the stems of the songs. It was such a collaborative process – but one that meant when we needed to do rewrites, obviously they were kind of hellish because we to throw away good songs.

[Starring in the series as well] means you’re writing to your voice. Kwame knew my voice and also how Sasha should sing and how she should feel about it. Ultimately, although we weren’t writing for me, we were writing for Sasha first and foremost.

Music is so emotive, and the beautiful thing about Sasha is she doesn’t really expose how she feels about stuff, so for an audience, it’s a gift to be able to see inside a character’s mind and hear them say things you probably assume they’re thinking but actually you’d love to hear them say. And with Mood, she sings them.

Costume Design: Jane Petrie
Petrie’s work on Apple TV+ period drama The Essex Serpent, based on the novel by Sarah Perry, saw her take home the Bafta statuette. Other nominees included The Crown, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared and The English.

I just let the script resonate, and then I go by instinct, really. I do a lot of research and try to understand the whole world before bringing it down to the characters. There’s stuff that you feel about the characters that is triggered by the script, but I always try to find out what world they inhabit. Then I go down and down until I get to the details. I don’t want to get attached to details that might be wrong or won’t fit, so I start broad and come into the characters once I know where they live.

I didn’t want to do another standard Victorian village because they’re so familiar, so I knew I needed to find some way of creating a world that we would believe was Essex then, but I wanted it to feel different. There’s so much texture in the script and I had a sense of where Essex is on the coast. I was looking at Holland and thinking about the fishing folk who for centuries would have had some connection there. Then I saw there was this little town, Little Holland, and they were my early stop-offs.

Then I thought it would be really nice to design a regional costume, and create something that felt like a regional dress of the time. So it was quite designed, but I wanted to get it from truth. I was very influenced by the Dutch clothing of the period, and I tried to create something that showed a connection to something else, rather than a Victorian village we’re familiar with.

Creatively, we were allowed to explore. Because of lockdown, I had an extended prep so I had a lot of thinking time. Just working with artists – the director Clio Barnard’s an artist, she went to art school before she started making drama – you have really interesting conversations and can explore avenues that aren’t in that space.

Scripted Casting: Nina Gold and Martin Ware
In a category that also included Top Boy, Am I Being Unreasonable? and Bad Sisters (for which Gold was also nominated), the casting directors came out on top for their work on This is Going to Hurt, which starred Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod as junior doctors Adam and Shruti working on the front line of the NHS.

Nina Gold and Martin Ware

Gold: The writing is spectacular and the story itself was a really important one. It really spoke to us – and we did have to cast hundreds of people. It was a real challenge but it was really fun.

Ware: We did all the casting on Zoom in 2020, and we got Ben Whishaw, who was the perfect lynchpin for the whole thing and set the tone. He manages to be both acerbic and difficult but you never stop loving him. You never lose the heart of him. And it was Ambika’s first TV role, so it was really exciting to find her and work with her.

Gold: With Zoom, you get to see a lot more people than if you have to make time to physically see them all. You just don’t have time to see that many people in person. And that’s good, but also it’s not quite as much fun as doing it in a room with real live people.

Writer: Drama: Adam Kay
For his first television drama, Kay adapted his own diaries about working as a junior doctor in the NHS, after they had previously been published as a bestselling book. Other nominees in this category were Heartstopper’s Alice Oseman, Somewhere Boy’s Pete Jackson and The Responder’s Tony Schumacher.

I’m absolutely thrilled for the whole team. It’s a team sport and everyone played an absolute blinder. I’m lost for words, which isn’t perfect for a writer.

I’ve written before but only in the comedy world, so I’ve learned so much from the producers, the directors, everyone. This show has only won what it’s won because of the huge panoply of brilliant people.

I stand 100% behind my former colleagues who work as junior doctors [in the ongoing pay dispute between the government and NHS workers]. The NHS is the people who work there. At the moment, they’re leaving in droves. They’re not getting the pay even I got 15 years ago. All they ask for at the bare minimum is restoring their pay to where it was. I really hope the government sees sense and sorts this out.

Writer: Comedy: Lisa McKee
McKee took home the final Bafta of the night for the third and final season of her standout comedy series Derry Girls, about five friends living in 1990s Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles and inspired by her own life. Other nominees included Jack Rooke for Big Boys, Nancy Harris for The Dry and Sharon Horgan, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Helen Serafinowicz and Holly Walsh for Motherland.

Channel 4 just let me do what I wanted with Derry Girls. It’s so rare. I’ll probably never get that again, so I just wanted to get it to the point where the fans would be happy, we’d be happy and it was a very definite ending point.

I knew the end point from season one. When we did the bombing at the end of season one, the minute I saw how it landed, particularly in Northern Ireland, I was like, ‘People don’t feel seen in this way.’ I was like, ‘If I get the chance, I’ll take it right up to the Good Friday Agreement,’ which was our proudest moment. We don’t have much that we feel proud of where I come from. It’s a very troubled little place, but that was a biggie, and to be able to be the person to put that on screen dramatically was incredible.

I tried not to think too much about what people wanted. It sounds selfish, but I had to think about what I wanted from the show. You get an intuition about where it should go and where the tone sits. Michelle’s storyline in the final episode [anticipating the release of her brother from prison], that wasn’t there for a long time, and then I watched an episode of The Wonder Years called Homecoming, about the Vietnam War, and they really tackled that subject head-on. I love The Wonder Years, and I was like, ‘I have to really do what they did,’ so I rewrote the script.

The actors’ chemistry is just magic. You just get lucky, but it’s like writing music. You’re composing and say, it has to be louder here, faster here, quicker there. It’s very technical, comedy, but I love it. Being able to write a show about the city you come from is just lovely, and I’ve won a Bafta.

I’m less hard on myself now if I’m not sitting at a computer, because that’s not writing. Writing’s walking around, doing the dishes, thinking, having arguments with yourself in your head. Then when it’s ready, you start to write, but it takes a lot of torture in your head to get to that point. It’s not like Jessica Fletcher, who used to just sit down at her typewriter in Murder She Wrote, finish something, it looks great and then she’d go off and solve murders. It’s definitely not like that, sadly.

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