2016 was a feast for lovers of drama – so don’t forget to vote in the National Television Awards

What a terrific 12 months, what an absolute Pol Roger Brut Vintage of a year


People who don’t watch television are weird. It’s like being a member of some sort of cult whose members won’t touch bread buns because they are evil or who think cats’ hair should be permed otherwise the world will end at 1pm tomorrow. It makes absolutely no sense.


Sometimes – not very often, thankfully – someone I’ve just met will ask what I do for a living. When I tell them, “I watch telly and write about it” I can see a kind of pitying look spread across his or her face, like Dairylea left on a radiator.

“Oh, rather you than me, I don’t know how you can stand it, it’s all such rubbish.” Then I count the number of seconds before they say “I only ever watch Newsnight”. 

As far as I’m concerned there’s a special place in hell reserved for the kind of people who “only ever watch Newsnight” but, as my mam used to say, “Don’t   let the iron enter your soul”. So I can only look in sorrow at TV refuseniks and point to 2016 while saying, “Well, just look at what you missed. What a terrific 12 months, what an absolute Pol Roger Brut Vintage of a year.”

The big diamond dramas are all twinkling in the shortlists for the National Television Awards, the only awards – let’s all say this together – that are voted for by you, the viewers.

The sparklers – Happy Valley, The Night Manager, Poldark, Victoria – are all snugly in place (though, disappointingly, there are no nods for Line of Duty and War & Peace).

Because the NTAs don’t have best actor and actress categories, just one big Drama Performance award, it’s quite a rich mix this year – Cillian Murphy, a Birmingham gang leader in 1920s Birmingham in Peaky Blinders, Jenna Coleman as the flighty young monarch in Victoria, Sarah Lancashire at her career best as cop Katherine in Happy Valley and Tom Hiddleston as a sort-of spy in his defining pin-up role in The Night Manager. How do you choose between that lot? 

There’s a new category, for Period Drama, with Call the Midwife, Peaky Blinders , Poldark, Netflix’s Stranger Things and Victoria all pushing each other aside for a look-in.

It’s not Netflix’s only shortlisting, a sign of the shift in television viewing. Its highly acclaimed documentary Making a Murderer is up for best Factual Entertainment, while Orange Is the New Black is, delightfully and incongruously, facing Mrs Brown’s Boys and Benidorm (not to mention The Big Bang Theory) for the comedy prize.

Ant and Dec are up for the TV Presenter award, which they always win, so someone might as well push it through their open car window as they drive past the O2 so they can spend the evening at a nice restaurant. 

And will Len Goodman get the sentimental vote for TV Judge (against David Walliams, Mary Berry, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger) after saying farewell to Strictly? Who knows, but keep voting!  


You can find out more information about voting, and even buy tickets for the live event at the NTA website.