Why the Baftas make better TV than the Oscars

Never mind your Hollywood glitz and glamour, in the battle of the TV awards ceremonies the Brits will always come out on top, says Sarah Doran

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Televised awards ceremonies can sometimes be rather long and drab affairs – but when it comes to the biggest nights in the cinematic calendar the powers that be roll out the red carpets with gusto.

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You know it’s awards season when Ricky Gervais is hitting the headlines for taking the mick out of Hollywood, the mani-cam’s making its return to E! and Ryan Seacrest is looking just a touch more tanned than he was last time you saw him.

The Golden Globes have been and gone and the Screen Actor’s Guild have handed out their gongs, leaving the Baftas and the Oscars to close the season in style.

Sitting through the Oscars can be a bit of a chore: They’re on at an ungodly hour, there’s rarely a jovial atmosphere and everything seems oh so scripted. The Baftas are scripted too, of course, but there’s something about the beautifully British ceremony that just makes for far better TV.

The Academy Awards aren’t without their merit – even if they’re solely responsible for the surge in sickening copycat Oscar selfies – but there’s something far less charming and just a tad contrived about their attempts to spice up our lives.

Meryl, Lupita and Amy got happy with Pharrell Williams back in 2014 but it was Prince William’s impromptu high five with Tinie Tempah at the Baftas that proved the most memorable.

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Only at the Baftas could Emma Thompson get away with running on stage sans shoes and flicking the finger at Stephen Fry.

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Only at the Baftas could Anne Hathaway and Sally Field reveal that poor Eddie Redmayne was struggling with the contents of his stomach backstage. Only at the Baftas will a presenter have a pop at themselves while handing out an award.

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And only at the Baftas could the host tell the audience to “gird your loins” because one George Clooney just so happened to be among them. 

Speaking of Stephen Fry, his perennial presence gives the ceremony a delightfully familiar edge that even the long-running Academy Awards can’t compete with.

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His wit and cynicism sets the tone for a gloriously tongue in cheek ceremony that pulls even the most reluctant international stars out of their respective shells. He has tempted many a bigwig from Tinseltown to blow kisses down the camera.

Bafta is their party and they’ll cry with laughter if they want to. Not even the BBC can resist joining in.

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So while it is indeed a joy to marvel at the sight of Jennifer Lawrence falling up a flight of stairs or listen to John Travolta make an absolute mess of Idina Menzel’s name, the Baftas offer up the kind of televisual treat that Hollywood’s heavyweights can only aspire to beat.

They should really just take the lead from Britain’s best and brightest: A Cumberbomb or two certainly wouldn’t go amiss again.

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Watch the British Academy Film Awards on BBC1, Sun Feb 14th at 9pm