Media: Darling, you were awful

What use are television awards, when all around there is evidence that standards are plummeting?

EXCESSIVE SELF-REGARD goes with the territory if you work in television. And there are few better places to witness it than the Bafta awards, where jobbing soap actors are lauded as stars and any producer who has made more than a couple of programmes has a strong mathematical chance of mounting the podium. If you don't score with Best Drama Series, try Best Drama Serial. If both fail, there's always Best Single Drama.

The Royal Television Society Awards and National Television Awards are also occasions for the television industry to tell the television industry how well the television industry is doing. Neither, though, does it quite so ostentatiously as the Baftas.

Yet the awards have singularly failed to impinge upon the public consciousness in the way that the Emmys do in the US. I'd bet that barely one member of the public can name one of last year's winners.

The broadcasters, of course, take them all too seriously. Following the BBC's 21 of 29 prizes on Sunday night, its director of programmes, Alan Yentob, put out a press release reminding us that "these are awards for boldness, innovation and ambition - exactly the path that the BBC continues to pioneer".

Up to a point, Mr Yentob. It's also worth remembering that the Best Light Entertainment Performance was won by Michael Parkinson, brought out of chat-show retirement because none of his many replacements could get the ratings.

Certainly, some outstanding performances were honoured, even if the announcer did say A Rather English Marriage was the first time Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney had worked together for 16 years. Theatre clearly doesn't count in television-land.

But the backslapping should not disguise the fact that this is far from a vintage period for television. Interestingly, the most incisive speech of the evening came from Bafta's president, the Princess Royal. She said: "There are major challenges facing broadcasters with the advent of apparently endless digital channels. To find the discipline to make programmes of quality and distinction will be harder than ever."

John Birt has added his voice to those lamenting the dearth of cutting- edge sitcoms, while others at the apex of the BBC are worried about the dismal quality of Saturday night viewing. The faking of interviews on shows such as Vanessa, whose transfer from ITV cost pounds 3m, has shamed the broadcasters. The revelation that seemingly anarchic Have I Got News For You is scripted has disappointed viewers. Top sports coverage on terrestrial TV is diminished yearly while the BBC pours funds into Internet and round- the-clock news services when the general viewer, like the Royal viewer, simply wants better quality programming.

And now a British Film Institute report compiled over the past four years and leaked to the trade journal Broadcast, has found that most TV production staff believe quality has deteriorated since 1994. Staggeringly, only 1 per cent thought quality had improved. Fifty-five per cent said ethical standards were lower, almost half said accuracy had suffered, and 40 per cent thought technical standards were lower. More than a third felt creative standards had fallen.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has a wealth of talent in its higher echelons, people such as Lord Puttnam, the best chairman the BBC never had. Why does Bafta not harness these talents into working parties to answer the concerns of the BFI survey? That would be more useful than awards. Alternatively, Bafta should, as other award-givers do, deliberately refrain from presenting some awards next year. A sitcom category in which none was worthy of a prize would certainly concentrate minds.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution