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

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits