Nick Clark and Vicky Jessop
Tue, 9 May 2023 at 6:00 am BST
The glitz, the glamour and the gongs come to the Royal Festival Hall this Sunday with the return of British TV’s showpiece event of the year: the Bafta Television Awards.
It was a year that marked an emotional farewell to the Peaky Blinders and the Derry Girls, saw searing takes on public services from This is Going to Hurt and The Responder and thrilled audiences with quality dramas from the finest minds in TV such as Sherwood, The Bear and White Lotus.
Bona fide stars from Billie Piper and Kate Winslet to Gary Oldman, Daniel Radcliffe and Lesley Manville are all in the running for honours. So, who’ll be winning big on the night, and which deserving nominees will be walking away empty-handed? We break down our top picks for who should win, and our predictions for really will.
- Billie Piper, I Hate Suzie Too – Sky Atlantic
- Imelda Staunton, The Crown – Netflix
- Kate Winslet, I Am Ruth – Channel 4
- Maxine Peake, Anne – ITV1
- Sarah Lancashire, Julia – Sky Atlantic
- Vicky McClure, Without Sin – ITVX
Should win: Billie Piper
I Hate Suzie was a critical darling when it was first released in 2020. Written by Lucy Prebble (who is also one of the key writers on Succession), it stars Billie Piper as the washed–up teen star Suzie Pickles who starts season two attempting to rehabilitate her public image in a reality show dance competition. Piper was great in season one; in season two, she’s even better, giving her Suzie a manic desperation and vulnerability that somehow makes you root so hard for her, despite how awful she can be. It’s a virtuoso performance that busts about a hundred taboos in the process.
Will win: Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet’s much–anticipated return to the small screen saw her unleash a storm of rage, fear and grief as Ruth, the mother to a deeply troubled teen. Their relationship is the focus of this 90–minute episode, which requires Winslet to turn on a dime and portray everything from vulnerability to pig–headedness. Released to rave reviews, it’s award catnip: Winslet looks like the favourite for this one.
- Ben Whishaw, This Is Going To Hurt – BBC One
- Chaske Spencer, The English – BBC Two
- Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders – BBC One
- Gary Oldman, Slow Horses – Apple TV+
- Martin Freeman, The Responder – BBC One
- Taron Egerton, Black Bird – Apple TV+
Should win: Chaske Spencer
The English was a searing, bloody, bloody brilliant take on the Western, and its big coup was bringing Emily Blunt back to the small screen for the first time in more than a decade. Alongside Blunt, much of the heart of the show came from Chaske Spencer, who played the native American tracker conflicted over working with the US army and wanting to claim what is owed. This extraordinary show deserved a lot more recognition at the Baftas (and in general), and hopefully Spencer will spring a surprise on the night.
Will win: Cillian Murphy
This is one of the hardest categories to call, absolutely everyone is doing stellar work and in such different roles. Ultimately the voters may well turn sentimental and award Cillian Murphy for his final turn as Tommy Shelby (on TV at least), one of the great anti-heroes of recent TV history.
- Adelayo Adedayo, The Responder – BBC One
- Anne-Marie Duff, Bad Sisters – Apple TV+
- Fiona Shaw, Andor – Disney+
- Jasmine Jobson, Top Boy – Netflix
- Lesley Manville, Sherwood – BBC One
- Saffron Hocking, Top Boy – Netflix
Should win: Jasmine Jobson
There are some serious heavyweights in this category, but an actor who definitely deserves the gong is rising force Jasmine Jobson. Jobson has always been an underrated presence on Top Boy as drug dealer Jaq, but the last season gave her a storyline that allowed her to really show her acting chops. Jobson’s ability to flick effortlessly between brutality – a woman striving for her place in the male-dominated world of the Summerhouse Estate drug gangs – to vulnerability as she navigates a new romance outside of her comfort zone, is a lesson in subtlety that deserves greater recognition.
Will win: Anne-Marie Duff
Is this the year of Anne-Marie Duff? The actor has been doing consistently excellent work for years, especially in theatre, but it’s only recently she’s been getting the recognition for it on TV. Duff is great in Bad Sisters (in which she plays Grace, a woman trapped in an abusive relationship) imbuing her character with a very believable sense of hopelessness – and with a second season in the works it’s clear Apple TV+ expects this to be a big winner for them.
- Adeel Akhtar, Sherwood – BBC One
- Jack Lowden, Slow Horses – Apple TV+
- Josh Finan, The Responder – BBC One
- Salim Daw, The Crown – Netflix
- Samuel Bottomley, Somewhere Boy – Channel 4
- Will Sharpe, The White Lotus – Sky Atlantic
Should win: Samuel Bottomley
Despite being just 21, Bottomley is a screen veteran, having made his professional debut in Tyrannosaur in 2011. In the extraordinary Somewhere Boy, he plays the shy Aaron, who chaperones Lewis Gribben’s Danny, a lad hidden from the world by his father until he was 18. Bottomley ensures it is not just Gribben’s show (though he is a real force) and is superb as the teenage boy who just doesn’t fit in. A nuanced performance that deserves the award.
Will win: Jack Lowden
Lowden is a bona fide star – and over the past few years has been really stamping his mark on TV. Recently he tore it up in the BBC’s excellent The Gold, but it is playing frustrated Bond wannabe River Cartwright in Apple TV+’s Slow Horses that really stands out. Two thrilling series about author Mick Herron’s group of hopeless intelligence operatives has led to two more on the way, and Lowden, alongside Gary Oldman, is a key component of why it works.
Male performance in a comedy programme
- Daniel Radcliffe, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – The Roku Channel
- Jon Pointing, Big Boys – Channel 4
- Joseph Gilgun, Brassic – Sky Max
- Lenny Rush, Am I Being Unreasonable? – BBC One
- Matt Berry, What We Do In The Shadows – Disney+
- Stephen Merchant, The Outlaws – BBC One
Should win: Lenny Rush
Was there more of a scene-stealing performance last year than Lenny Rush in Am I Being Unreasonable? Playing Daisy May Cooper’s son Ollie in this underrated, and unusual, sitcom the 14-year-old was an absolute joy. He has won at the National Comedy Awards and the Royal Television Society Programme Awards; hopefully he’ll add a Bafta to his growing collection of honours.
Will win: Jon Pointing
Big Boys caught many off guard, but it won a legion of fans for its deeply moving, yet funny, take on male friendship and grief. Both leads were knockouts in the sitcom based on writer Jack Rooke’s own life, and Dylan Llewellyn could equally have been nominated, but Pointing shaded it for his fantastic portrayal of a university lad who also suffers from depression. He would certainly be a worthy winner should Rush miss out.
Female performance in a comedy programme
- Daisy May Cooper, Am I Being Unreasonable? – BBC One
- Diane Morgan, Cunk On Earth – BBC Two
- Lucy Beaumont, Meet The Richardsons – Dave
- Natasia Demetriou, Ellie & Natasia – BBC Three
- Siobhán Mcsweeney, Derry Girls – Channel 4
- Taj Atwal, Hullraisers – Channel 4
Should win: Siobhán McSweeney
Siobhán McSweeney created a bona fide icon out of the character of Derry Girls’ Sister Michael. The impatient nun-slash-headmistress of the girls’ convent school is almost synonymous with the show, with her despairing eye-rolls and snappy one-liners. There’s not a whole lot of depth to Sister Michael, but there doesn’t need to be: when you steal every scene like that, it’s comedy gold and McSweeney is surely a shoo-in for the award.
Will win: Siobhán McSweeney
Look, there are no arguments on this one. McSweeney thoroughly deserves every plaudit she gets for this role, many will be cheering her all the way to the podium.
- Bad Sisters – Apple TV+
- The Responder – BBC One
- Sherwood – BBC One
- Somewhere Boy – Channel 4
Should win: Somewhere Boy
Seemingly out of nowhere, this Channel 4 drama was absolutely one of the standout shows of the year. This is a coming of age story with a difference – as the Evening Standard review said, it’s about love, grief and denial and a father’s desperation to protect his child from the horrors of the real world. Shattering, stunning television brilliantly performed.
Will win: Sherwood
The golden boy of screen and stage writing, James Graham, can do no wrong. And he proved it once again with this show inspired by real life murders in a Nottinghamshire community still fractured by the miner’s strikes of the Eighties. Starring David Morrissey and Lesley Manville, this was BBC One drama at its finest and may well have the biggest appeal to academy voters.
- A Spy Among Friends – ITVX
- Mood – BBC Three
- The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe – ITV1
- This Is Going To Hurt – BBC One
Should win: This Is Going to Hurt
Has there ever been a drama that made as much of an impact on the way we see the NHS as This Is Going to Hurt? Adapted from the book of the same name by its author Adam Kay, the series features staggering performances from Ben Whishaw as demoralised gynaecologist Adam, and from Ambika Mod as his put-upon junior doctor Shruti. It’s a searing indictment of the pressure these doctors are under – overworked and underpaid at a time that they’re striking in real life – and while it’s funny at times, it’s also desperately sad.
Will win: This Is Going to Hurt
This seems pretty much sewn up: the show received rave reviews upon release and has stayed in the national consciousness ever since. If This Is Going to Hurt doesn’t scoop the Bafta, it’ll be a shock.
- The Bear – Disney+
- Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story – Netflix
- Wednesday – Netflix
- Oussekine – Disney+
- Pachinko – Apple TV+
- The White Lotus – Sky Atlantic
Should win: The White Lotus
There are some excellent contenders in this year’s category – but while The Bear and Pachinko both deserve honourable mentions, surely The White Lotus Season 2 should be first in line for the award. Mike White’s two-season run has seen him skewer the rich and investigate subjects including class, race, sex and power with an all-star cast at the top of their game – while also serving up some first–class drama. A worthy winner.
Will win: The White Lotus
Look, The White Lotus is beloved both by audiences and critics. It’s been an awards powerhouse (especially for its star Jennifer Coolidge) ever since it launched and it feels improbable that Bafta will pass it over.
- Am I Being Unreasonable? – BBC One
- Big Boys – Channel 4
- Derry Girls – Channel 4
- Ghosts – BBC One
Should win: Derry Girls
Last year marked the final season of the beloved sitcom Derry Girls, and boy did it deliver. Featuring hilarious moments (Liam Neeson’s cameo as a resigned police superintendent was inspired) to the heart-breaking, it was a send-off that hardly put a foot wrong and tugged on every heartstring. It suffers a bit from Nicola Coughlan’s packed filming schedule (Claire is hardly present for most of the last season) but that’s okay; everything else is perfect.
Will win: Derry Girls
Derry Girls has to be the big winner here. There are some other excellent shows on the list – Big Boys, also starring Dylan Llewellyn, rightly garnered a lot of praise for its nuanced portrayal of male friendship – but Derry Girls has been so beloved during its three-season run that, surely the award is only heading in one direction. Slainte!
The BAFTA Television Awards will take place at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday May 14