It was a – excuse the pun – marvellous night for the men behind the BBC2 drama at last night’s Bafta TV awards.
Based on the life of Neil Baldwin – circus clown, lay preacher, Stoke City football club’s kit man and honorary graduate of Keele University – Marvellous was named best single drama while Gemma Jones took home best supporting actress for her part in it.
As the cast and crew piled on stage towards the end of the evening to accept their joint gong, writer Peter Bowker tells us, “Neil got up ahead of me and as he walked across I was aware of this wave of love and affection and applause. It’s great because Neil deserves that.”
Marvellous enchanted audiences last year, telling the delightful tale of “force of positivity” Neil Baldwin – played by Toby Jones – who finally got his moment in the spotlight during last night’s ceremony:
“It’s been great to be here tonight – I thank the Lord and what he’s done for me,” he told the star-studded audience from the podium. “And I’m very pleased the Queen is still going strong.”
When we caught up with Neil this morning, he was looking forward to “a little rest” after celebrating until 1am at the Grosvenor House after-party last night. “It was really wonderful getting up on that stage and talking. I was really happy.”
And it turns out the stars of British TV were eager to meet the former Stoke City kit man and his one-time manager Lou Macari. “I kept looking up and there was a queue of the good and great of British television queueing at Neil’s table,” recalls Bowker. “[TV producer] Peter Salmon wanted to meet him and Siobhan Finneran, Steve Pemberton, and then on the other side [a queue] of middle-aged telly execs wanting to tell Lou Macari about when he managed their club.”
This morning Neil headed back north to his home in Stoke, but since becoming the subject of a BBC2 drama, he’s been kept busy attending various events up and down the country. “What’s great is sometime this week he’ll be opening a scout club somewhere or something like that and, for Neil, that’s as big an event and just as great as the Baftas last night,” reveals Bowker.
Meanwhile, viewers will be pleased to hear that the Neil Baldwin Football Club is still going strong with 100 members – “we’re getting a lot of money for charity”, Neil tells us – and there are even plans for a match against Westminster politicians: “I met Andy Burnham a couple of weeks ago and he plays for the MPs so I hope everything goes well.”
As for Bowker, his next project will reunite him with Marvellous stars Toby and Gemma Jones in BBC1 drama Capital. “I’ve got my old gang back together. Just to watch Toby and Gemma again at work on top of their craft is just fascinating – it’s rather like a fantasy for me.”
But last night was all about Marvellous which, according to Bowker, Neil predicted would win a Bafta “before I’d written a word!”
“Everybody says how great that film was and it is,” says Neil. “I’m very pleased about it.”