How to win a Bafta

How to win a Bafta

Winners from this year’s Bafta Television Awards offer DQ their thoughts as to what it takes to pick up one of the iconic mask statuettes. Spoiler alert: it’s personal.

When it comes to award winners’ acceptance speeches, surprise and modesty are common reactions to being recognised by and among your peers.

But when Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at this year’s Bafta Television Awards, he was utterly, delightfully, thrilled to have won.

“So often the bridesmaid, this time I caught the bouquet,” he said to journalists backstage after winning the award for his role in BBC true crime drama The Sixth Commandment, which had earlier in the evening also scooped the Limited Drama gong. “When you keep losing, you think [awards are] a load of bollocks, and then you win them and you think, actually, in a way they’re magnificent.”

But if some of this year’s winners could sum up what it takes to win a Bafta, what would they say?

Here, some of the victors from the Bafta Television Awards and Bafta Television Craft Awards tell DQ about their award-winning work and try to put themselves in the minds of the judges to offer an explanation for why they came out on top.

Emerging Talent: Fiction: Kat Sadler
Rising star Sadler wrote and starred in BBC dark comedy Such Brave Girls, which also won the Scripted Comedy prize. It has been renewed for a second season.

Honestly, just keep going. Keep trying. you’re going to get told a million no’s and then you’ll get one yes. And this is what can happen off the back of it. So I hope people can see it and be like, ‘Oh, I could be that person.’ Because I totally watched these things growing up, watching people win who were my heroes and thinking, ‘I’ll never be part of that.’ I hope people can see that you can come from nowhere and go through this. Anyone can do that. It’s not just for massively privileged people, it’s for us as well.

Hair & Make-up Design: Lisa Parkinson
Parkinson won the Bafta for her work on ITV true crime series The Long Shadow, which focused on the victims of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe and the years-long police effort to apprehend him.

The Long Shadow was just such a special project with special people – amazing actors, all who went above and beyond, and amazing crew who really wanted to pull it together – and it all fell into place. Everybody worked together. I worked really closely with the production designer and the costume designer, and everybody was on the same page, and that is quite special for that to happen. That’s what was brilliant about Lewis [Arnold, director]. He brings on the people who will gel the most. That’s really important in a crew because, if you aren’t gelling, you’re not talking to each other and you’re not collaborating with each other. That’s what he does. He brings on crew that will help each other out. I can’t say what made people watch it or vote for me. I just think, as a job, it was an incredible collaboration of work. That’s what did it. Everybody was amazing on it, and that doesn’t always happen.

Original Music: Fiction: Atli Örvarsson
Icelandic composer Örvarsson scored the music for Apple TV+’s dystopian drama Silo, in which the last 10,000 people on earth live in a bunker a mile beneath what remains of a scorched and toxic world.

A few years ago I started doing albums, as opposed to only doing film music, and I feel like my music has become more personal and has gotten closer to the core. Maybe it’s more honest or something. I went from thinking of scoring the picture and thinking of writing cues to writing ‘music,’ and there’s just this slight difference in attitude that has moved the music to having a bit more heart and a bit more personality.
I jokingly mentioned in my acceptance speech that growing up in a small town in the north of Iceland might have been really good preparation for this [show] because it’s pitch black most of the day in the middle of winter, and you might be snowed in for a couple of days. I’m probably insulting everyone in Iceland by saying this, but there’s something to be said for it. You’ve kind of experienced that darkness and isolation [that the characters experience in the series], so you leave just a touch of your heart and your soul and your personal experiences in every project. This one might just have been the right fit.

Photography & Lighting: Fiction: Stephen Pehrsson
Pehrsson’s credits include War of the Worlds, SAS Rogue Heroes, Wednesday and The Winter King. The Dane won the Bafta for Black Mirror episode Demon 79.

Well, if you could tell me that [how to win a Bafta], I’d just be doing that all the time, and winning more of them. But I have no idea. I’ve worked on productions before where I thought, ‘Oh, this is a shoo-in. Everybody’s going to love this,’ and then nobody watches it.
It’s such a weird alchemy of something that’s popular, that people enjoy so many people have watched it, but then also has that something that Bafta members together find. It’s such a narrow road, and then at the end there’s a jury; and this jury, it’s 10 people sitting down and having discussion that could go any way. So I have absolutely no idea what it is. I just keep trying to do good work and hopefully, when it’s successful, people will recognise it and enjoy it.

ITV period drama Three Little Birds came from comedian and actor Lenny Henry

Scripted Casting: Aisha Bywaters
Bywaters won her second casting Bafta for ITV drama Three Little Birds, after previously winning for Channel 4 music drama We Are Lady Parts, which is now in its second season.

All I can say is that when I watched the pilot episode of Lady Parts, I understood my work as a casting director, and I understood that I could do it and that I had a voice. Because although it’s someone else’s work, that’s still your part of it, and from that moment I knew that I had to just be authentic to myself. That’s all it really is: staying true, picking scripts that you understand, want to work on, are passionate about, and then just staying true to how you do your job and asking those questions like, ‘Are we serving the material?’ The two times I’ve really done that, it’s paid dividends.

Charlie Brooker and Bisha K Ali

Writer: Fiction: Charlie Brooker & Bisha K Ali
Black Mirror creator Brooker took home his first Bafta award for writing the dystopian anthology series for season six episode Demon 79, which he co-wrote with Ali (Ms Marvel, Loki).

Ali: When we were making Demon 79, it felt like every member of that production was excellent at their craft and everyone was working 150%. And we all just really loved this project. It felt weird and odd and bizarre and unique, and we almost didn’t care what anybody would think about it when it went out, because we had such a great time making it and we all loved it so much.
That felt really fresh at the time. I don’t know if that’s the [secret] ingredient, but certainly whether it had been rewarded or not, I felt really proud of what we created, so it almost feels like the icing on the cake that we get this recognition for it. I’ve never won a Bafta before, so the data sample isn’t particularly strong here. I don’t know if there’s one hard and fast rule. But that feeling of, ‘Oh, we’ve done something that’s unique to us and it feels important to everybody who worked on it,’ that felt very special about this whole project.

Brooker: I definitely had a really good feeling about this throughout. There was a really nice vibe on it and there was a confidence. We knew we were doing something really odd and sort of beautiful, hopefully. That said, I have slightly conflicting thoughts on award ceremonies because basically, if you win, it is brilliant. It’s definitely better than going and not winning. It’s 100% better because especially if you’re a bit of a shut-in, it means you’ve gone out for the evening and you’ve been rewarded. But you didn’t do anything that evening to deserve the prize. It’s just that you were given it for something you did last year.
The other thing is, I’ve sat on juries for things before and sometimes it’s really difficult. People will say to me often, what’s your favourite episode of Black Mirror? I can’t really answer that. It wouldn’t be fair to answer it and I don’t know, because they’re all different and sometimes you have one that’s your favourite at one given time and so on. The notion of ranking things in order and saying this one thing deserves the prize and the other three in this category do not is sort of ridiculous. And we know it is because that’s not how our brains actually work. But that said, if they give you an award, it makes your evening and it’s a really nice feeling.

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