The entertainment industry is more valuable than ever – it’s fitting for the BAFTAs to go ahead

Without the glitz and the glam, the focus will be back on what really matters, says Laura Denby.

BAFTA - Jodie Comer wins for Killing Eve

By Laura Denby.

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The BAFTA Television awards nominations were announced last week, with the ceremony rescheduled to take place on 31st July.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the event has had to undergo big changes, meaning an absence of almost everything we usually expect on the night. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Actor and comedian Richard Ayoade will host the show solo from a closed studio, and winners will make acceptance speeches via video link. This has never been done before, and will deliver a totally different atmosphere for viewers. But for those like me who have always loved watching award ceremonies, this shouldn’t affect our enjoyment of the BAFTAs.

For me, watching those winning moments are what occasions like this are all about. Luckily it seems this aspect of the show won’t be affected by the situation, with this year’s recipients all the more deserving of that memorable “and the BAFTA goes to…” moment as far as I’m concerned.

With lockdown having restricted our activities –  and even more limits in place for those who have been shielding – television has become invaluable over the last few months. I am now more grateful than ever for the generous variety of entertainment we have been gifted with recently.

Killing Eve S3
Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer has been nominated again

The circumstances haven’t stopped us from discussing what we’re watching at length – popular offerings in recent weeks include BBC thriller Killing Eve, whose multi-skilled star Jodie Comer is nominated as Leading Actress following her win last year. My personal TV favourites include Holby City – which has finally been recognised in the Soap & Continuing Drama category – and Channel 4 hit Derry Girls, up for the Scripted Comedy award.

The Chief Executive at BAFTA, Amanda Berry OBE summed up our thoughts perfectly when the event was confirmed recently: “We want to celebrate and reward the talented individuals who make up the television industry, both behind and in-front of the camera, many of whom have continued to entertain and inform the nation in recent weeks.”

Indeed, many in the profession are still at work, from news broadcasters to morning and evening show hosts; as well as Emmerdale cast members who have been filming socially distant lockdown specials. Adapting the ceremony and allowing it to go ahead gives us the opportunity to recognise those working in television for the comfort and company they have brought us in these uncertain times.

There is even a chance to pass on our appreciation with the category of Must-See Moment, which viewers can cast their votes for. Nominees include the heartbreaking death of Sinead in ITV’s Coronation Street, as well as the huge cliffhanger of Nessa proposing to Smithy in the return of BBC’s Gavin & Stacey.

Virtual appearances from BAFTA winners could also provide a more familiar tone to proceedings, and a warmth that cannot always shine through during the usual annual festivities. Events such as this normally have strict schedules; and while to an extent this will still be the case, perhaps the stripped-back format will make way for more time spent engaging with the audience and nominees tuning in at home.

Gavin and Stacey
Gavin and Stacey’s proposal is up for Must-See Moment

We may not be able to rule out the odd technical glitch, but at least there will be no awkward ‘rushing offstage’ moments in between categories.

In previous years, the glamour of the evening has often overshadowed the achievements, as guests’ outfits are judged by media outlets who compile best and worst-dressed lists. Thankfully this element will be redundant this year, with the focus back on what really matters – the work. With no red carpet, BAFTA is getting back to its roots.

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As we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic with the magic of television always there when we need an escape, it’s only fitting that we take the time to honour the entertainment industry with one of the biggest TV events of the year.

The British Academy Television Awards 2020 will air on 31st July. While you’re waiting, visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.