Reviews

This Week in TV: The Bafta Television Awards, Happy Valley, A Poet in New York and Gogglebox

In sort of a BAFTA special we look at the awards themselves and look at some of next year’s possible nominees.

showbiz julie walters cilla black bafta 01 This Week in TV: The Bafta Television Awards, Happy Valley, A Poet in New York and Gogglebox
This year’s TV BAFTAs were rightfully dominated by one show, Broadchurch, the drama won three awards including the coveted drama series prize and extra gongs for Olivia Colman and David Bradley. However Broadchurch was one of the only obvious winners of the night and the only other dead certs were Breaking Bad being named Best International Programme and Doctor Who picking up the Audience Award. The biggest surprise of the evening for me had to be when Educating Yorkshire lost the Best Documentary prize to fellow Channel 4 show Bedlam. Although Bedlam was a well-made programme it didn’t get the country talking in the same way Educating Yorkshire did. Another shock was when the immensely popular Bake-Off lost the Features award to Long Lost Family and I was similarly bemused when Complicit took home the Best Single Drama Award. There were pleasant surprises though most notably In the Flesh’s win for Best Miniseries and Him and Her finally getting some recognition as Best Situation Comedy. The fact that two BBC3 shows have won fairly prominent awards at the BAFTAs means that auntie Beeb has a little egg on their face after condemning the channel to the online wasteland from next year. Speech of the night went to Sean Harris, who collected the Best Actor Award for Southcliffe, as he continued to ramble on. Fair play to Sean for also mocking himself after the complaints he got over his mumbling turn in Jamaica Inn. But I personally felt the night belonged to two ladies, Cilla Black and Julie Walters, who were on hand to collect lifetime achievement awards. Walters, who was awarded the fellowship, was characteristically humbled and the video package that aired prior to her taking the stage demonstrated why she deserved the award. After reviewing the situation I do feel that BAFTA got more things right than wrong this year even though I still feel Educating Yorkshire was robbed.

5389529 low res happy valley This Week in TV: The Bafta Television Awards, Happy Valley, A Poet in New York and Gogglebox
One programme that should be showered with BAFTAs this time next year is Sally Wainwright’s phenomenal Happy Valley. The drama aired its fourth episode this week and afterwards I sat in front of the television open-mouthed for at least five minutes. The shocking in scenes in which James Norton’s Tommy Lee Royce attacked Sarah Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood where incredibly violent and left me a little shaken. It was the same feeling I had after the first episode of Line of Duty and the last episode of Endeavour and both of which went on to be two of my favourite dramas of the year. As far as Happy Valley goes I have to say I initially dismissed it as a kidnapping drama however it seems I was very wrong. The end of this fourth episode saw Catherine rescue kidnap victim Ann Gallagher from the clutches of the aforementioned Tommy. It does seem as if the series will now become a revenge drama as Catherine will attempt to capture Tommy once and for all. Even before his latest rampage, in which he also killed Catherine’s colleague Kirsten, she was hellbent on getting revenge for his rape of her late daughter. I felt it was the right time for Wainwright to end the kidnapping plot even if it means less of Steve Pemberton as creepy accountant Kevin. Instead I’m happy to marvel at new BAFTA winner Sarah Lancashire as she gives the performance of her career as an emotionally fragile police officer with more than a few bones to pick. Lancashire’s performance in Happy Valley may be the best of the year and she really brings Wainwright’s dialogue to life beautifully. Wainwright also must be commended for taking on directing honours in the most recent episode as she really captured the brutality of Tommy’s attack on Catherine. As Wainwright has completely changed where the story is going I’m anxious to know just what will happen next and I’m just hoping that Catherine eventually gets her man.

6241 460x258 This Week in TV: The Bafta Television Awards, Happy Valley, A Poet in New York and Gogglebox
One man who might be joining Lancashire in next year’s BAFTA nominations list is one Tom Hollander who has had a hell of a year. After delivering a truly stunning turn in the final episode of Rev, Hollander has now put on weight to play Dylan Thomas. In A Poet in New York, Hollander recounts the last days of Thomas’ life as he arrives in America to partake in the opening performances of Under Milk Wood. Thomas’ time in New York sees him at the end of his tether, full of illness and unable to give up the drink he even struggles to perform sexually. I thought Andrew Davies did a good job of demonstrating Thomas’ despair in his last days as well as celebrating his work as a poet. However, I was less pleased that A Poet in New York eventually became a standard biopic as Davies went back to look at Thomas’ relationship with his wife and children. It was the scenes in his native Wales that I found fairly interminable and therefore I struggled to maintain my interest as the film progressed. Thankfully Hollander kept me engaged, with his performance as the incredibly ill poet being a triumph. Despite Thomas being a philandering drunk, Hollander made me sympathise with all the pressure he faced and almost had me in tears during the scene at Thomas’ father’s deathbed. Hollander was also excellent at delivering Thomas’ various works the best example of this being his interpretation of ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night’. At well over an hour, I found A Poet in New York to be far too long and I don’t think the BBC had much faith in it scheduling it up against the BAFTAs. That being said BAFTA do love to honour biographical performances and so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hollander was on the shortlist this time next year.

Sandra and Sandra 008 This Week in TV: The Bafta Television Awards, Happy Valley, A Poet in New York and Gogglebox
We end with a programme that did win a BAFTA even though none of the stars of the show were there to collect the award in person. Instead all of the Gogglebox cast were watching the event from the comfort of their living rooms and of course the cameras were there to capture their reactions. As far as Gogglebox is concerned I was rather late to the party and only started watching it after it stopped being a cult sensation. I suppose my aversion to it was that they were normal people doing what I get paid to do for a living. But, under the advisement of one of my fellow critics, I decided to give it a go and found myself warming to it ever so much. However, at the same time, I did find some of it incredibly contrived and it appeared as if a lot of the families and couples were simply competing to see who could come up with the best line. Furthermore I fail to believe that some of the characters would be watching certain shows especially when we heard the hairdressers say that they’d never watched Match of the Day up to that point. The constructed elements of the programme can also be applied to the BAFTA win as the ceremony was on a delay rather being aired live. Therefore I would guess that the stars of the show would’ve been informed of their win and had already practised their celebrations. This series of Gogglebox has brought in big ratings and so there’s no question that a series four is already in the works. But I would personally like a slimmed down show with less focus on films and news stories because, at the end of the day, this is supposed to be a TV show about people watching TV shows.

Next time: BBC2′s Bumper Comedy Weekend

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