Craft masters

Craft masters

April 30, 2024

Ones to Watch

Black Mirror episode Demon 79 and Apple TV+ dramas Silo and Slow Horses each collected two prizes at the Bafta Television Craft Awards 2024. DQ runs through the scripted winners and speaks to some of the recipients about their work.

Charlie Brooker landed his first Bafta mask for writing Black Mirror on Sunday, with the Netflix dystopian anthology among three scripted series to pick up a pair of prizes this year’s Bafta Television Craft Awards.

Brooker and Bisha K Ali (pictured above) shared the prize for Writer: Fiction for penning season six episode Demon 79, a horror-tinged instalment in which a meek sales assistant is told she must commit terrible acts to prevent a global disaster. The episode’s cinematographer, Stephan Pehrsson, also won for Photography & Lighting: Fiction.

Meanwhile, Atli Örvarsson won Original Music: Fiction and Gavin Bocquet and Amanda Bernstein won Production Design for their work on Apple TV+ drama Silo, the story of the last 10,000 people on Earth living a mile below the surface to protect them from the toxic and deadly world outside.

Rebecca Ferguson stars in Apple TV+ drama Silo, which claimed two awards

More success for Apple TV+ came with two prizes for espionage series Slow Horses, with wins for the Sound Team in the Sound: Fiction category and Sam Williams for Editing: Fiction.

Elsewhere, Peter Hoar won Director: Fiction for HBO’s The Last of Us, and Jack Rooke collected the Bafta for Writer: Comedy for Channel 4’s Big Boys. Aisha Bywaters won her second Bafta for Scripted Casting for ITV period drama Three Little Birds, having previously triumphed in the category in 2022 for Channel 4 music dramedy We are Lady Parts.

Meanwhile, Kat Sadler won the Emerging Talent: Fiction category for Such Brave Girls, BBC3’s dysfunctional family comedy she writes and also stars in.

Other winners included costume designer Sharon Long for historical drama The Great and Lisa Parkinson for make-up and hair design on ITV true crime series The Long Shadow, while Tamsin McGee, Ben Hanbury, Hugo Moss and Paul McDonnell won in the Titles and Graphic Identity category for Wilderness.

The Long Shadow took the prize for make-up and hair design

Tim Crosbie, Caimin Bourne, Jet Omoshebi, Dan Weir, Cinesite and David Stephens also took home a Bafta for Special, Visual & Graphic Effects for Netflix fantasy series The Witcher.

This year’s Television Craft Special Award was presented to MAMA Youth Project founder and CEO Bob Clarke in recognition of the group’s work helping young people from underrepresented groups to access careers in television and the media.

More prizes will be awarded at the Bafta Television Awards on May 12.

After the celebrations, DQ caught up with some of the winners to discuss their work.

Scripted Casting: Aisha Bywaters
Marking her second Bafta win after taking home the prize for We are Lady Parts in 2022, casting director Bywaters was recognised for her work on Three Little Birds, Lenny Henry’s ITV drama about three women (played by Rochelle Neil, Yazmin Belo and Saffron Coomber) leaving Jamaica for England in search of a better life.

Aisha Bywaters takes to the podium supported by members of the cast

There are similarities [between We are Lady Parts and Three Little Birds]. We’ve got to find in both situations really skilled actors who can lead a series, but maybe people you haven’t seen before or who haven’t had that opportunity before. In both of those projects there were chemistry tests between those people because they need to work together. I am drawn to things that work a bit like that.

When I got the job interview, I was just so happy to have it. And in that interview, I was speaking so much about how this is the story of my mum and her family, and my dad and his family. Both of them came over from Jamaica when they were children. They both actually then went and lived in Nottingham, so it’s a story you’ve heard, but also something that is not that spoken about that much. It is just something they did, but it’s so extraordinary. To have this piece of work that really explores it and really explores what it must have been like for them – for me, it was very much about honouring that, honouring them and that generation of people.

Three Little Birds

I have two assistants, Irene [Waireri] and Tara [Ahmed], and we worked and worked and saw a lot of people. What was amazing was that so many actors wanted to meet on the project, found it interesting and really related to that material. We actually only saw actors for those three roles – Leah [Rochelle Neil], Chantrelle [Saffron Coomber] and Hosanna [Yazmin Belo] – who were of Caribbean heritage because Lenny Henry thought that was really important, which is understandable. So it took a long time, but also, when they came in, you sort of knew [they were right for the part].

That’s the wild thing about my job and the wild thing sometimes to try to articulate. You have these wonderful words on a page and someone comes in and says them and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, we didn’t think we were going to find them. But they’re here.’ Then you test them with someone who might be their partner. Does it work for that relationship? Do they work as a trio? There were a lot of rounds of auditions, but they came in every time, did their best, believed they would get there and then they became the trio. If they didn’t do what they did on screen, I wouldn’t have that award, so I thank them wholeheartedly for it.

In casting, as soon as you understand how to trust your gut, you can do your job really well. It’s the things you watch on television, it’s going to the theatre – you’re constantly consuming. You’re constantly seeing all this amazing talent and then having these feelings about people and being like, ‘Could we get them in for this? And could it work?’ Sometimes they’re an amazing actor and you love them and you admire their work, but it’s just not their role; it’s just not today. When you can finally acknowledge and admit that, you can be like, ‘This is the material we have and we have to honour it.’ That’s what my job is like. Are we serving the script? When you’ve got material as good as this, it’s easier.

Photography & Lighting: Fiction: Stephan Pehrsson
Pehrsson took home the Bafta for Demon 79, the third episode of Black Mirror on which he has worked following fellow nominee USS Callister and the Miley Cyrus-led Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too. He is now working on another pair of films for the show’s upcoming seventh season, including a sequel to USS Callister.

Stephan Pehrsson shows off his Photography & Lighting: Fiction prize

Winning the award was due to a combination of factors. First of all, it’s a nice piece of entertainment. It’s a thriller horror that’s charming and witty. But it has this undercurrent – it tries to tell a story about a very lonely person [Anjana Vasan’s shop clerk Nida] who is also experiencing horrific amounts of racism in a fictional northern town. Obviously it was a fictional story, but it just had a little bit more to say. It was very personal to both Bisha and also Charlie [Brooker], as his wife [Konnie Huq] is from that background and may have experienced some of these situations, or maybe her parents have, so there was a lot to base this story on for them.

Black Mirror’s Demon 79

The big thing about Black Mirror is that they all have to be unique. Charlie prizes himself on finding unique teams and unique groups of people to put these together, so they do have a unique look. But for some reason there is still something that means you feel like you’re watching Black Mirror. A lot of it has been the [storylines about] technology, and also the Easter eggs. There will always be references, and you will have names, titles and logos and things you’ve seen in previous episodes so it does merge into one universe.

Filming Demon 79, we had to work out imagining this weird demon [played by Paapa Essiedu], but also Nida’s fantasies about murder and what happens when the demon turns up and creates a VR-like simulation of what the future might look like. The way Nida’s eyes glaze over [in those sequences] was very Black Mirror.

We had to come up with this sequence where she’s in her flat, but she’s also feeling and sensing what Armageddon might look like. There were quite a few iterations of what that is – is she transported to a different place? Is she in the middle of a nuclear explosion? Then we suddenly came up with the idea where, no, we should just be in her flat and all this happens around her. She’s just experiencing what this flat would look like if it was in the middle of Armageddon [filled with flames]. And then technically, how do we do that? We filmed the set as it would be, with her running around, but then we realised we should just burn the set down. We took the set and rebuilt it outside in a big car park and then lit it on fire, little sections at a time and very safely not to hurt Anjana.

Emerging Talent: Fiction: Kat Sadler
After writing on series including The Mash Report, Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable and Tell Me Everything, writer, performer and stand-up comedian Sadler saw her debut series Such Brave Girls land on BBC Three in 2023. A dark, riotous comedy, it follows single mum Debs (Louise Brealey) and her two daughters, Josie (Sadler) and Billie (Sadler’s real sister Lizzie Davidson), as they navigate their trauma and dysfunctional family life.

Kat Sadler looks chuffed with her award

Winning the award is weird. I almost feel like it’s wrong because the show was so much like a group effort to make. It’s bittersweet because a win is a win for the show, and I wish everybody’s name was on it, but it’s still amazing to be encouraged in that way, to feel like my voice is being encouraged and that people want to hear what I’ve got to say. That’s huge and lovely to know. It’s a real honour.

Such Brave Girls

I wanted to bring my perspective into the dialogue we’ve currently got going about using trauma and personal stories in comedy and how we twist that and subvert it. That was definitely something I wanted to do, to shift the narrative a little bit and do something slightly different.

Writing the series, it was almost like I had to go through the drama route, and some of the scripts were more like drama, and then circle back and make it into comedy. I still feel the emotion of the drama when I’m writing, but then I try to backtrack on it and be like, ‘OK, but how do I undercut the tension with jokes and make it so it doesn’t feel like we’re going into drama territory?’ I had to do a bit of both and then strip out any sensitivity or nuance to make sure the sitcom lands.

Making the show has given me confidence. I was so looking for someone to please with season one, and what I have learned from doing it is that the stuff people have related to or liked has been stuff where I’ve really gone, ‘No, I know this is funny,’ so it’s definitely giving me a boost to try to go free for all on what I am trying to say and what I want to do and not be deterred. I know my voice is quite strange and offbeat and a lot of people aren’t going to get it. The fact people have and I’ve won this award is proof I can lean into that more and not worry about trying to please everyone. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

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