Bafta TV awards: Who should win and who will win this year

Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, Annabel Nugent predicts the TV shows that will take home the awards - and which ones really deserve to

In hard times, we’ve taken solace in the knowledge that TV will always be there for us. This sentiment has never been truer than over this past year, during which small-screen entertainment was one of very, very few highlights.

As the country opens back up and we slowly unglue ourselves from our sofas, it feels timely that we pay tribute to the recent shows that have comforted us, challenged us, changed us or merely succeeded in distracting us.

That’s right, the Bafta TV awards are right around the corner – more specifically on Sunday (6 June).

This year’s ceremony will be hosted by comedian and former Bafta winner Richard Ayoade. A number of guest presenters – including Fresh Meat’s Zawe Ashton, Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar and Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan – are set to join him on stage.

It wouldn’t be an awards show without debate, so we’ve compiled a list of who we think should win and who will win (spoiler alert: it’s rarely one and the same).

Best Drama Series

Gangs of London

I Hate Suzie

Save Me Too

The Crown

Should win: I Hate Suzie

Will win: The Crown

Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble forged TV gold with I Hate Suzie. The brilliantly barbed series about a former child star’s unravelling hit all the right notes and then some, gaining extra traction as the spotlight was put on the media’s treatment of young women by the recent #FreeBritney campaign.

Regardless, we’ll probably get stuck with a win for The Crown. Netflix’s period drama surprisingly hasn’t taken home any of the “main” Bafta awards since it began in 2016, meaning its most recent season – bolstered by Princess Diana’s inclusion and a stellar Gillian Anderson – is ripe for the picking.

Billie Piper as pop star turned actor Suzie Pickles in the Sky Atlantic satire 'I Hate Suzie'

Best Mini Series

Adult Material

I May Destroy You

Normal People

Small Axe

Should win:I May Destroy You

Will win: I May Destroy You

I May Destroy You will either win because Bafta voters recognise that it truly is the best of the bunch – or it’ll win because they fear a nationwide mutiny if it doesn’t. Either way, it will be a relief to see Michaela Coel’s game-changingly good series about consent and sexual assault feted with the trophy it deserves. Especially after that Golden Globes snub.

Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar Jones as lovers in ‘Normal People’

Leading Actor

John Boyega (Small Axe)

Josh O’Connor (The Crown)

Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)

Paul Mescal (Normal People)

Shaun Parkes (Small Axe)

Waleed Zuaiter (Baghdad Central)

Should win: Paul Mescal (Normal People)

Will win: Josh O’Connor (The Crown)

It’s been a while since Normal People was all that anyone could talk about, but Paul Mescal’s performance as Sally Rooney’s troubled young teen is indelible. The Irish actor won over audiences and critics with his heartbreaking portrayal of Connell, a character who in less capable hands would’ve been unbearable. Following an egregious Golden Globes snub, the actor deserves his brilliant breakout role to be formally recognised, not just on Twitter.

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While Mescal’s odds are good, there’s still a chance he’ll be edged out by The Crown’s Josh O’Connor who is on a winning streak with a Golden Globe and SAG award already to his name.

Michaela Coel in her groundbreaking series ‘I May Destroy You’

Billie Piper (I Hate Suzie)

Daisy Edgar Jones (Normal People)

Hayley Squires (Adult Material)

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Letitia Wright (Small Axe)

Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)

Should win:Billie Piper / Michaela Coel

Will win: Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)

It’s a win-win, really. Any one of this year’s Best Actress contestants are capable of putting up a worthy fight – but if we’re splitting hairs, it’s got to be Billie Piper and Michaela Coel leading the pack. Or at least it should be.

Both Coel and Piper turned in remarkable performances as characters that they also helped flesh out in the writer’s room. Save breaking the gold mask trophy in half, it’ll likely go home with Coel.

Best male comedy performance

Charlie Cooper (This Country)

Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen)

Joseph Gilgun (Brassic)

Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education)

Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner)

Reece Shearsmith (Inside No 9)

Should win: Paul Ritter(Friday Night Dinner)

Will win: Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner)

It would be a crime not to. Ritter’s death last month sent waves through the entertainment industry, which remembers the actor not only for his performance as the kooky, sweaty patriarch of the Goodman family but the countless other comedic feats he had accomplished. It’s only right that Ritter’s contribution to comedy be properly recognised with his first ever Bafta award.

Paul Ritter and the cast of ‘Friday Night Dinner’

Best female comedy performance

Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education)

Daisy Haggard (Breeders)

Daisy May Cooper (This Country)

Emma Mackey (Sex Education)

Gbemisola Ikumelo (Famalam)

Mae Martin (Feel Good)

Should win: Mae Martin (Feel Good)

Will win: Daisy May Cooper (This Country)

While a series about trauma and addiction doesn’t sound funny, in Mae Martin’s deft hands, it is a riot. With Netflix picking up Feel Good after it was cancelled by Channel 4, there’s hope that more eyes will be on this brilliant show.

Nevertheless, you can’t ignore the fact that Daisy May Cooper is the firm fan-favourite this year. The comedian’s iconic Kerry Mucklowe has graced our screens for the last time and Bafta will likely be looking to pay tribute.

The Cooper Siblings in ‘This Country’

Best Scripted Comedy

Ghosts

Inside No 9

Man Like Mobeen

This Country

Who should win: This Country

Who will win: This Country

It’s a tried and true crowd-pleaser. Everyone loves something flashy and new, but in a year of “unprecedented” things, This Country was a comfort blanket. Daisy May and Charlie Cooper constantly turn in stellar writing and superb performances in this quintessentially British series.

With the show having aired its third and final season, there’s surely a win in the offing to commemorate its impact. This Country’s only fault? Prompting the cringey-looking American remake, Welcome to Flatch.

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