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While the TV BAFTAs highlight terrific talent, David Tennant was the biggest snub of the year

This year's TV BAFTAs will be hotly contested, but Des and Staged star David Tennant at least deserved a nod for his brilliant work this year.

David Tennant plays Dennis Nilsen in Des
Published: Wednesday, 28th April 2021 at 1:21 pm

Despite pandemic-related production shutdowns and release date delays, it's been a phenomenal year for television – and nothing said that better than this morning's list of 2021 TV BAFTA nominations.


I May Destroy You and Michaela Coel finally received some long-awaited recognition after their Golden Globes rebuff, while groundbreaking dramas like Small Axe, Normal People, I Hate Suzie and The Crown made multiple appearances on the nominations list. As for acting talent, BAFTA honoured some of the most exciting names we've seen throughout the pandemic, from Sex Education's Aimee Lou Wood and Ncuti Gatwa, to I May Destroy You's Paapa Essiedu, Small Axe's John Boyega and This Country's Daisy May Cooper – all hugely-deserving stars who turned out terrific performances in some of the best shows this year's had to offer.

Surprisingly absent from BAFTA's coveted spotlight however, was the British national treasure that is David Tenant – a man who's consistently kept us company whilst we've all been confined to our sofas.

Ringing in 2020 as the secretly sinister Tom Kendrick in drama Deadwater Fell (a time when the concept of social distancing was but a twinkle in Boris Johnson's eye), the iconic Tenth Doctor went on to become one of the biggest stars of lockdown. Pandemic comedy Staged quickly became a beloved sitcom when it premiered last June, with Tennant and Michael Sheen playing hilarious exaggerated versions of themselves in Zoom-based 20-minute episodes which proved so popular, they returned for a second series earlier this year.

David Tennant and Georgia Tennant in Staged BBC

Just a few months later in September 2020, Tennant majorly changed gears by starring in ITV crime thriller Des – a three-part miniseries about the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Portraying the titular murderer, Tennant delivered a spine-chilling performance as Nilsen, unsettling over 10 million viewers with his accurate impersonation, unpredictable mood-swings and creepy chemistry with Daniel Mays (DCI Peter Jay) and Jason Watkins (Brian Masters).

With Tennant demonstrating his elastic range more than ever this year in two wildly different, wildly popular titles, the 2021 BAFTAs would have been the perfect opportunity to recognise this – especially with the Broadchurch star qualifying for multiple categories. While this year's Leading Actor shortlist was hotly contested, the Guild of Television Producers and Directors could have at least put Tennant up for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for Staged.

The snub is even more upsetting when you learn that in the whole of his 34 year career, Tennant has never received a TV BAFTA. Of course, he's won a Welsh BAFTA for his run on Doctor Who and a Scottish BAFTA for starring in The Escape Artist, but he's yet to be recognised by the British Academy Television Awards despite appearing in BAFTA-winning series like Broadchurch, There She Goes and Twenty Twelve.

Des David Tennant
David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen in Des

That being said, of all the years to get snubbed, this year was probably the best considering just how tight the competition is and how brilliantly diverse the categories are. With John Boyega, Josh O'Connor, Paapa Essiedu, Paul Mescal, Shaun Parkes and Waleed Zuaiter up against one another for Leading Actor, it's set to be an incredibly competitive race for that golden face in light of their performances which were all terrific in their own right. Likewise with Male Performance in a Comedy Programme, which has honoured the likes of Ncuti Gatwa, Gus Khan, Charlie Cooper and the late Paul Ritter.


But let's not forget just how talented Tennant is, even if he's extremely unlucky when it comes to BAFTA recognition. Truly one of the best performers Britain has to offer, let's hope he makes it onto BAFTA TV's 2022 shortlist.

The BAFTA TV Awards 2021 air on Sunday 6th June. Check out our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.

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