Cranford dominates Bafta nominations

By Sherna Noah,Pa
Tuesday 18 March 2008 09:56

The BBC drama Cranford and its star Dame Judi Dench dominated the Bafta TV award nominations today.

Cranford, based on the books by Elizabeth Gaskell, takes the most nominations with three. Dame Judi receives a record 24th nomination, including her previous nominations for film.

In the best actress category, Dame Judi, 73, is up against her Cranford co-star Dame Eileen Atkins, also 73, who played her sister. Atkins' last Bafta TV nomination was in 1969.

Her other rivals are former winner Gina McKee, this time nominated for BBC1 drama The Street, and Kierston Wareing for It's A Free World (Channel 4).

In the entertainment programme category, Britain's Got Talent - the show won by opera singer Paul Potts - goes head-to-head with three times nominated Strictly Come Dancing. The other nominees in the category are Have I Got News for You and Harry Hill's TV Burp.

Coronation Street misses out on a nomination for Continuing Drama. Instead, The Bill, EastEnders, Emmerdale, and Holby City are up for the award.

In the Features category, chef Heston Blumenthal receives his first nomination for the cookery show Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is his culinary opponent, alongside The Secret Millionaire and Top Gear.

All the best actor contenders are first-time nominees.

They are Andrew Garfield for Boy A (Channel 4), Tom Hardy for Stuart: A Life Backwards (BBC2), Matthew Macfadyen for Secret Life (Channel 4), and Antony Sher for Primo (BBC4).

In the Sport category, the BBC's Men's Wimbledon Final is nominated for the first time since Bjorn Borg faced John McEnroe in 1980.

After Cranford, the programmes with most nominations are The Street, Harry Hill's TV Burp, The Thick Of It and Peep Show, all with two each.

Paul Merton picks up his 11th nomination for Paul Merton In China, instead of for Have I Got News For You.

Russell Brand receives his first Bafta TV nomination - for his Channel 4 show Russell Brand's Ponderland.

Simon Amstell, Alan Carr, Alexander Armstrong, James Corden and Justin Lee Collins and Ben Miller are also all first-time nominees.

Notable absentees this year include presenting duo Ant and Dec, who are usually Bafta TV regulars, and Jonathan Ross.

As a single channel, Channel 4 has most nominations (23), followed by BBC1 (20) and ITV1 (12).

As an umbrella of channels, the BBC leads the way with 38 nominations, almost half of the total, followed by 25 for Channel 4, including More4 and E4.

As well as two nods for best actress, Cranford is also in the running for best drama serial, up against Britz (Channel 4), Five Days (BBC1), and Murphy's Law (BBC1).

Tim Corrie, deputy chair of the Bafta TV committee, said: "Judi Dench is an extraordinary performer and Cranford is a brilliantly made programme which has three nominations, the most this year. It is beautifully made.

"It's very interesting to see that two grand Dames of acting are going up against each other."

He said of the absence of Ant and Dec: "There are new people coming up all the time. It's good to see Bafta reflecting the ringing of changes.

"If you look at the acting awards the new are coming up against the others."

He said of the continuing drama category: "Holby City and The Bill have never won it before. Maybe that will change this year.

"There are certain times when some (soaps) have their finger on the pulse of what fascinates people.

"Coronation Street is still the school for writing... I don't think there's any doubt about it being back there (on the list), if not next year than the year after.

"The state of British TV is very healthy. You can say 'Isn't it a shame that reality TV is taking such a strong hold?' but on the other hand that's what people get excited by. It's a fact of our life."

The British Academy Television Awards will be held at the London Palladium on 20 April, hosted by Graham Norton, and broadcast on BBC1.

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