I’m going to let you into a little secret – watching the Baftas on television is so much better than actually being there. I will tell you why. It’s to do with shoes. On the sofa, at home, surrounded by crisps and Nutella, you can lie barefoot and content. At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane you have to totter down the red carpet – where you are recognised by no one – before you do lots and lots of standing. In my case this is always in posh shoes with two fundamental design flaws – they are meant for neither movement nor comfort.
Of course, despite your tears of shoe-inspired pain, it’s fun to star-spot up close (ooh, it’s Dominic West, doesn’t he have lovely big shoulders! And isn’t that sweet little Dynamo looking a bit lost?) But, really, you are the ones with the best seats in the house.
As you can see from our special supplement featuring dream double acts that RT has put together for you, dear reader, the Baftas is the starriest of starry nights. Everyone (just about) turns up because these are television’s most coveted prizes and guests shimmer with gorgeousness in pretty dresses and chic suits.
So all of the expensive glamour makes this year’s Bafta ceremony a particularly alluring grit-in-the-oyster prospect when you look at the shortlists… dramas about the serial murder of women, the killing of a child, a deranged man on a shooting spree, grimness in a northern Victorian mill, grimness in a northern Edwardian village… you get the idea.
All of this might sound miserable, but it’s not. 2013 was an outstanding year for engaging, we-have-to-talk-about-it drama. Both Broadchurch and Southcliffe were fine essays on the effect of a home-grown catastrophe on a small community, while The Fall was at the centre of a debate about its depiction of violence towards women.
Offbeat comedies also shone. I know Count Arthur Strong, a Radio 4 stalwart, is an acquired taste and always will be, but it was an old-fashioned, and surprisingly touching new (to TV) series. Toast of London, with Matt Berry as a hopeless, terminally self-obsessed jobbing actor, was a lark – silly and stupidly funny.
And the most touching moment of the year came from the most unexpected place, Thornhill Academy in West Yorkshire. In Educating Yorkshire, nominated for best factual series, tears leaked from all our eyes when a boy with a debilitating stammer achieved greatness and joy. Television doesn’t get any better than that.
British Academy Television Awards are on Sunday 18 May at 8:00pm on BBC1.