If there’s one man who can skip from commentating on the cheesy Eurovision Song Contest to guiding an audience of cracking TV talent through the BAFTAs, it’s Graham Norton.
“As I like to say when I’m having sex: ‘The sooner we start, the sooner we finish’,” Graham told the audience.
And, with the foreplay over, the awards were (quite) quickly dished out.
ITV’s top crime drama Broadchurch was the biggest winner, taking three awards for Drama Series, Leading Actress for Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller and Supporting Actor for David Bradley as Jack Marshall.
Olivia Colman was overcome with emotion when she reached the stage to accept her award and started crying. “I’m sorry, not cool,” she said.
Then she had the audience roaring with laughter when she added to her speech: “Also I’d like to thank my friend Merk because she’ll laugh. She’s a teacher, not an actor and she’ll think that’s funny. And my mum and dad because they’re babysitting and my husband who is just the best thing in the world.”
Broadchurch’s other acting winner, David Bradley, was more composed when he accepted his award. “I got a chocolate BAFTA for Christmas,” he said. “Now I can take it down from the mantlepiece and eat it.”
And ITV’s top soap, Coronation Street, took the award for Soap and Continuing Drama over its rival EastEnders.
“My mum and dad are going to be so proud,” said the show’s executive producer Stuart Blackburn. “I’ve dreamt of this moment and it’s so much better in real life. Corrie’s about a team who love the show. But we have to thank the audience because without them we’re not very special at all.”
Channel 4’s The IT Crowd did the double, with awards for Katherine Parkinson for Female Performance in a Comedy Programme as Jen Barber and Richard Ayoade for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme as Maurice Moss.
“I hope this award serves as an inspiration to other nasal men with no facial expression or emotional reaction,” said Richard. “Now I’ll leave with less dignity than I came up with.”
The Supporting Actress award went to Sarah Lancashire for her role as Caroline in BBC1’s Last Tango in Halifax.
“Oh, wow. I’ve gone completely blank,” Sarah said on stage, then regained her composure. “This is all down to the most magnificent company of actors,” she continued, referring to her co-stars Nicola Walker (who was also nominated), Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi and Nina Sosanya, who plays Caroline’s lover. “If you ever get a chance to kiss Nina, do,” Sarah added. “You won’t be disappointed.”
Leading Actor went to Sean Harris for his role as Stephen Morton in Channel 4’s Southcliffe.
The critically acclaimed US crime drama Breaking Bad was a popular winner of the BAFTA for International Television Show and Channel 4’s Gogglebox was also a popular winner of the award for Reality and Constructed Factual series.
Channel 4 also won the Single Drama award for the powerful spy drama Complicit.
There were two awards for individuals…
The Special Award went to Cilla Black for her contribution to entertainment.
The second – and final award of the night – was the BAFTA Fellowship which, this year, went to Julie Walters.
“When I told my mother I wanted to be an actress back in 1969 she said, ‘She’ll be in the gutter before she’s 20’,” Julie said.
“And she was right. But what a gutter. And I shared that gutter with some of the most amazing and talented people without whom I just simply would not have a career. Through them I learned so much. And very little of it had anything to do with acting.
“Thank you to the business for giving me a fantastic 40-year ride.”