Happy Valley and Top Boy lead TV Bafta wins – but The Crown is snubbed

‘Succession’ took home just one award for its final season, while the total absence of ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’ was addressed on stage

Adam White
Monday 13 May 2024 10:25 BST
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Timothy Spall praised for ‘real’ speech after Bafta TV Awards 2024 win

Top Boy, Happy Valley and The Sixth Commandment were among the big winners at the Bafta TV Awards on Sunday night.

Stars including Jeff Goldblum, Stephen Merchant, Lashana Lynch, Helena Bonham Carter and Katherine Ryan were on hand to give out awards at the ceremony, which was hosted by comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan.

The Netflix drama Top Boy took home the night’s biggest prize, for Best Drama Series, along with a Best Supporting Actress win for actor Jasmine Jobson.

Best Actor went to Timothy Spall for his work on The Sixth Commandment, the BBC One drama inspired by the murder of a retired schoolmaster. The series was also awarded the Best Limited Drama prize. In his speech, Spall admitted “I’ve always wanted one of these – it’s just lovely to have one.”

Sarah Lancashire collected the Best Actress prize for her work in the final season of the BBC’s smash hit drama Happy Valley. The show also took home the “P&O Cruises memorable moment” award, for its final confrontation between two long-standing nemeses, police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Lancashire) and serial killer Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

Fresh comedy was also well represented, with wins for BBC sitcoms Black Ops, Juice and Such Brave Girls in the Female Performance in a Comedy Series, Male Performance in a Comedy Series and Scripted Comedy categories respectively.

Other wins of note included Squid Game: The Challenge for Best Reality, Strictly Come Dancing for Best Entertainment Programme, and Joe Lycett for Best Entertainment Performance. Lycett, the host of the Channel 4 comedy series Late Night Lycett, accepted his award while dressed in Queen Elizabeth drag – after losing a bet.

Sarah Lancashire with her Best Actress Bafta for ‘Happy Valley’
Sarah Lancashire with her Best Actress Bafta for ‘Happy Valley’ (BBC)

There was little love for two of the biggest US series of last year, however, with the final seasons of Succession and The Crown leaving (almost) empty-handed. Succession managed just one award, Best Supporting Actor for Matthew Macfadyen – although the actor was not in attendance at the ceremony to collect the prize himself. The Crown, meanwhile, missed out entirely despite four nominations.

Also missing was 2024’s most impactful drama series, ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office, inspired by the real-life Horizon Scandal and a show that sparked national outrage and government intervention upon its release in January. This snub, however, had a reasonable explanation. As if to quell any confusion in those watching at home, the actor Eleanor Tomlinson made mention – while announcing the nominees for Best Drama Series – that Mr Bates was broadcast after the Bafta 2024 broadcast cut-off date, and will only be eligible for nominations at next year’s ceremony.

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Two long careers in broadcasting were recognised during the show, with the children’s TV presenter and politician Baroness Floella Benjamin awarded the Bafta Fellowship prize, and the ITV daytime presenter Lorraine Kelly taking home a Special Bafta.

Joe Lycett, dressed as Queen Elizabeth, is surprised by his Bafta win for 'Late Night Lycett’
Joe Lycett, dressed as Queen Elizabeth, is surprised by his Bafta win for 'Late Night Lycett’ (BBC)

Succession star Brian Cox, a fellow Scot, introduced Kelly, explaining that his late sister was an enormous fan. “When I asked her why she loved her so much,” Cox said, “her reply was this: ‘she’s real’.”

In her speech, Kelly urged the British television industry to keep doors open for young talent from working class backgrounds.

In her own speech, Baroness Benjamin celebrated her decades of work in television and politics, declaring: “My mission over the last 50 years has been to get broadcasters and organisations to have diversity and inclusion in their DNA.”

Elsewhere, tributes were paid to a number of TV actors who’ve died in the last year, including Boys from the Blackstuff star Bernard Hill, Drop the Dead Donkey actor Haydn Gwynne, and Friends actor Matthew Perry.

The full list of winners at this year’s TV Baftas can be found here.

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