Bafta TV Awards audience urged to 'stand up and fight' for the BBC


Peter Kosminsky

Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky hit out at the Government, saying it is trying to "eviscerate" the BBC, adding that he felt now "is a dangerous time for broadcasting in Britain".

Speaking at the Bafta TV Awards as he accepted best drama series for the Hilary Mantel adaption, he also warned that this would mean there would be no more productions like the Tudor drama.

He referred to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale's reported plans to interfere with the scheduling of shows such as the BBC News and Strictly Come Dancing as similar to the "bastions of democracy Russia and North Korea".

He said: "In many ways our broadcasters, the BBC and Channel 4, which they're also attempting to eviscerate, are the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it.

"This is really scary stuff folks, not something I thought I'd see in my lifetime in this country.

"It is not their BBC, it's your BBC. There will be no more Wolf Hall, no more groundbreaking Dispatches."

Instead, he claimed programming would be made on the basis of how much it "lines the pockets of its shareholders" and urged viewers to "stand up to this dangerous nonsense".

Backstage he added: "Channel 4 is under threat too and the privatisation of Channel 4 would be a disaster, this is a bizarre moment given the television sector is the benchmark."

Award-winning actor Mark Rylance, also the star of Wolf Hall, backed Peter, telling the Press Association he would not have been able to give his Oscar-winning performance in Steven Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies if it had not been for Wolf Hall.

Mark Rylance at the Baftas
Mark Rylance (Joel Ryan/AP/PA)

He said: "It feels like with the work I did on the film, I don't think I would have acted it so well if it was not for Wolf Hall. I had 17 weeks of Peter's guidance and attention and the actors I got to watch and play with day after day."

Craig Revel Horwood, a judge on best entertainment programme winner Strictly Come Dancing, added of the Government: "If they are in charge of anything entertainment-wise it would be a complete disaster, we don't want them in charge of any decisions, creatively."

Strictly beat the likes of Britain's Got Talent and Adele At The BBC to take home its first ever TV Bafta.

One of the show's co-hosts, Claudia Winkleman, joked that she "regretted the three tequilas" she had had, adding: "Huge thanks to the producers, the judges and our amazing dancers, we cannot believe it. We're going out for five days after this."

The comedy and comedy entertainment programme category was won by Have I Got News For You.

One of the show's team captains, Ian Hislop, also praised the BBC and its independence.

He said: "I'm reiterating the theme, I'd like to thank the BBC, who have allowed us to be rude about the Government ... and indeed rude about the BBC itself, which is a privilege you are given with public service broadcasting and not on state television."

Ian Hislop at the Baftas
Ian Hislop (Ian West/PA)

The Bafta Fellowship award went to comedy writing duo Alan Simpson and Ray Galton, who recorded a video thank you message.

Reading out from a piece of paper, Alan said their speech had been written for them because "we can't afford our prices".

He continued: "We met in a sanatorium, we were 17 years old and to this day we complement each other. He helps me up the stairs and I tell him what day it is. We're so glad you've chosen this year because if you waited much longer you might have missed us. There are so many people to thank for this award but most of them are dead."

Sherlock star Martin Freeman presented the Radio Times audience award to Poldark.

Sir Tom Courtenay accepted the award for best supporting actor as he begrudgingly accepted his title as a "veteran" of the industry.

Channel 4´s First Dates was named the winner of the reality and constructed factual category.

Chanel Cresswell made an awkward slip of the tongue as she picked up her award for best supporting actress for This Is England '90, she accidentally called the 10-year project the "worst work experience".

Chanel Cresswell at the Baftas
Chanel Cresswell (Ian West/PA)

She said: "I've got to thank main man Shane Meadows, I would not be stood here if it wasn't for you picking me up 10 years ago.

"It's been the worst - best, not worst - work experience for the past 10 years," she continued, to laughter from the audience.

Victoria Wood, Sir Terry Wogan and Ronnie Corbett were among the actors and industry members lost in the past year who were remembered in a tribute segment at the awards.