Presenting the gong for Best Actress during the ceremony, the ‘Cold Feet’ actor called for change in the number of roles available for women.
His comments came after host Sue Perkins quipped about the gender pay gap, saying: “This award represents what so many actresses aspire to - being paid just under the same amont as the leading actor.”
Taking to the stage, James said: “Funny you should say that Sue, because I am delighted to be presenting the award for Best Actress tonight, particularly as I am wearing the badge for ERA, which is the campaign for the Equal Representation of Actresses.”
He continued: “Currently, for every one female role, there are almost three male roles. This is an inequality that is not only about our industry, but it is an inequality that is absorbed by everyone on their screens every day.
“As the father of two children - two girls - this should change.”
During her speech, Sarah paid tribute to co-star Siobhan Finneran and writer, producer, director Sally Wainwright, also joking: “I even want to thank Nicola Walker, and she’s not even in it.”
She also honoured The Crown’s Claire Foy, saying “You have given me the best 10 hours under a duvet. Thank you.”
See all the red carpet snaps from the TV Baftas in the gallery below...