Merton earns 11th Bafta nomination by going to China

Paul Merton is best known for the dry humour he brings to Have I Got News For You, but his talent as a tour guide to a hidden side of China has now caught the eye and earned him a nomination for a prestigious television award for the 11th time in his career.

His channel Five show Paul Merton In China is up for a television Bafta for best factual series, pitted against Bruce Parry's BBC2 series Tribe, Channel 4's Meet The Natives and BBC1's The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities.

In the series, Merton presented a quirky view of China, abandoning a visit to the Great Wall in favour of meeting a man who makes robots as a hobby, staying in the tallest hotel in the world in Shanghai despite a fear of heights, and trying but failing to eat dog – a Chinese speciality.

All Merton's previous nominations for a Bafta have been for his performances on Have I Got News For You, the topical news comedy show on which he has been a panelist since 1990, apart from a short break in 1996. In 2003, he won a Bafta for best entertainment performance for his part in the BBC satirical quiz, beating the show's former host Angus Deayton to the prize. Deayton had been dropped from the show the previous autumn after sex and drugs allegations in the News of the World.

Have I Got News For You also received its ninth nomination for best entertainment programme – the 24th nomination overall for the show and its performers, the most for any single programme.

John Willis, the chairman of the Bafta television committee, said of the nomination: "It shows Paul Merton's versatility. It was a travel series, but with humour and humanity and clearly worked very well with the audience. It showed he had the range to move out of the Have I Got News For You studio."

In the best actress category, Dame Judi Dench received her 12th television Bafta nomination for her role in the BBC1 costume drama Cranford. She is pitted against Eileen Atkins, who played her on-screen sister in the series, as well as Gina McKee, for BBC1's The Street.

Cranford, which is also up for best drama serial, received three nominations overall – the most of any programme or series. Mr Willis said: "One of the things the BBC always does brilliantly is costume drama, but Cranford was also quite modern; about the coming of the railways and changing society."

Channel 4 received 23 nominations – the most for any single channel. "Channel 4 has had a troubled year, starting with Celebrity Big Brother and uncertainty over its long term funding, but it shows you that Channel 4 has still got a public service DNA," said Mr Willis.

He also hailed the number of newcomers featuring alongside the A-list stars in the nominations, including Andrew Garfield (best actor for his part in the Channel 4 drama Boy A), Tom Hardy (best actor for his performance in BBC2's Stuart: A Life Backwards) and James Corden, (best comedy performance for his role in the BBC3 sitcom Gavin and Stacey).

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at the London Palladium on 20 April, to be screened on BBC1.

The 2008 nominees

BEST ACTOR

Andrew Garfield, Boy A

Tom Hardy, Stuart: A Life Backwards

Matthew Macfadyen, Secret Life

Antony Sher, Primo

BEST ACTRESS

Eileen Atkins, Cranford

Judi Dench, Cranford

Gina McKee, The Street

Kierston Wareing, It's A Free World

ENTERTAINMENT PERFORMANCE

Simon Amstell, Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins, The Friday Night Project

Stephen Fry, QI

Harry Hill, Harry Hill's TV Burp

COMEDY PERFORMANCE

Peter Capaldi, The Thick of It

James Corden, Gavin and Stacey

Stephen Merchant, Extras Christmas Special

David Mitchell, Peep Show

SINGLE DRAMA

Boy A

Coming Down The Mountain

The Mark Of Cain

The Trial of Tony Blair

DRAMA SERIAL

Britz

Cranford

Five Days

Murphy's Law

FACTUAL SERIES

Meet The Natives

Paul Merton in China

Tribe

The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities

ENTERTAINMENT SHOW

Britain's Got Talent

Harry Hill's TV Burp

Have I Got News For You

Strictly Come Dancing

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Arts and Entertainment
Bryan Cranston will play federal agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator

Books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines