The past year has been great for telly and as we're only two weeks away from the 2013 BAFTA Television Awards, I thought I'd give you a little lowdown of who I think deserves to walk away with an award in the Comedy and Entertainment categories... and maybe those who shouldn't too.
Let's start with Comedy. In a year that saw London host the Olympics and the Leveson inquiry roll on it's only fitting that comedy reflected that. In particular of course, I'm referring to Twenty Twelve and The Thick of It. Both of which have been nominated for 'Situation Comedy' at this year's BAFTAs along with Hunderby which saw great success at the British Comedy Awards last year and Episodes which is set to return for a third series this year. However, this year I feel the competition is really between Twenty Twelve and The Thick of It.
If I had to call it though, and of course for the purpose of this piece I do, I'd have to say The Thick of It. Not only because it has won the award twice before but because I think the last series of The Thick of It was quite possibly the best series yet with as always outstanding performances from Peter Capaldi, Rebecca Front and Chris Addison. Armando Iannucci has dealt brilliantly with having to portray a coalition government this time around and the Leveson episode is quite possibly my favourite episode ever. I loved the way it was so current, so topical and so well executed, especially by Capaldi.
That's not to say I don't think Twenty Twelve deserves to walk away with nothing, in fact quite the opposite. I have to admit (and I think I've said it on here many a time) that I wasn't initially a fan of the show and it wasn't until I got caught up in London 2012 that I sat down, watched it all in one go, and quite frankly loved it. However, it would be a shame for The Thick of It to have won the award before but not walk away with it for Series 4.
At this year's BAFTAs Jessica Hynes and Olivia Colman are up against one another in the 'Female Performance in a Comedy Programme' category. Whilst I would LOVE Olivia Colman to win the award as she's well overdue, I think it will go to Jessica Hynes who has had more success at award shows, most recently winning 'Best Comedy Performance' at the Royal Television Society Awards. I think both add so much to Twenty Twelve, and both characters are so different that it's difficult to compare them. Olivia plays Sally Own who is quite quiet, shy and always looking to please Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), whilst Jessica's character Siobhan Sharpe quite literally doesn't give a shit. She's ballsy, full of attitude and takes no prisoners. I've always been one to champion Colman but I feel like she's going to have her best BAFTA Awards next year when she'll undoubtedly clean up for her performance in Broadchurch.
Up against them in that category is Miranda Hart for her performance in 'semi-autobiographical' sitcom Miranda which saw an amazing 11.5 million people tune in on Christmas Day making it the most watched programme over the Christmas period. If it was all about ratings then sure, she would win but somehow I do think the award will go to Hynes or Colman, or even Julia Davis, whose performance in Hunderby, saw the show become a runaway success at the British Comedy Awards and I have to admit that I am yet to watch an episode.
Moving on to the 'Male Performance in a Comedy Programme' category, nominated here are Steve Coogan for Welcome to the Places of My Life, Hugh Bonneville for Twenty Twelve and Greg Davis for Cuckoo. I'm thinking the award has to go to Steve Coogan, right? I mean there's no denying that Alan Partridge is one of the UK's greatest comedy characters and his return to our screens last year was a particular telly highlight and I think just for agreeing to bring him back, Steve Coogan deserves this award. That and the fact I wasn't much of a fan of Cuckoo and therefore don't think Davis should walk away with the award.
This moves me on nicely to the 'Comedy Programme' award. Perhaps tougher competition here than in the 'Situation Comedy' category, even if just for the fact that they are all so different. Kicking off the nominations is Welcome to the Places of My Life, a series of two one-off Alan Partridge specials for Sky Atlantic. Up against him is Mr Stink a one-off adaptation of a children's book by David Walliams. Completing the nominations are two sketch shows, The Revolution Will Be Televised and Cardinal Burns, a genre which appeared to find a new lease of life in 2012, helped along by Facejacker which sadly hasn't been nominated for a BAFTA.
Whilst I enjoyed each of the four shows nominated, my choice would have to be, and this might surprise some of you, Mr Stink. I felt like Christmas was exactly the right time for a warm comedy about an unhappy, daydreaming schoolgirl who befriends a stinky tramp and his dog in the local park. And as well as being a hilarious judge on Britain's Got Talent and a brilliant character actor, Walliams showed in mR Stink that he was also a very talented children's book writer and brought the story brilliantly to the small screen. Funnily enough, when I saw Mr Stink in the listings I didn't think of it as a must-watch for Christmas but rather dismissed it as I assumed it would be for children. And sure, it was but within 10 minutes of watching it I felt I was drawn into the world of the girl and the tramp and like the very best Roald Dahl adaptations I couldn't wait to find out how the story would end and I found myself watching it all over again three or four times over the festive period.
It also says something about Walliams' writing that he was able to attract such a wealth of British talent to the show; Sheridan Smith, Johnny Vegas and Hugh Bonneville. Oh and yes, there was of course the inevitable David Walliams cameo as Prime Minister. So for all those reasons, I'd love Mr Stink to win a BAFTA this year and if it doesn't then at least it was a great sign to even have been nominated and news this week that another of Walliams' books Gangsta Granny has been picked up by BBC One for this Christmas there's time yet to win a BAFTA.
Now moving onto the Entertainment categories. First up it's 'Entertainment Programme' the shows nominated in this category are Dynamo Magician Impossible, The Graham Norton Show, A League of Their Own and Have I Got News For You and for me there really only is one winner, The Graham Norton Show. Sure, the format doesn't ever change, but if it ain't broke why fix it? And that's exactly what I think with Norton.
He has the ability to make you watch every show often regardless of the guests as you know he'll bring the funny. One format point I really think works is having all the guests on the sofa from the very beginning as you get to see them interact with one another, often a low-key comedian will get the chance to crack a joke with some of Hollywood's finest and that's what I think sets this show apart. One particular moment which for me will always stand out is the time Will.i.am met Miriam Margoyles, 71 who said 'Unfortunately, I don't know many black people. We don't get to meet across the colour line much except in show business and that's what's so nice.' which might have made Will feel uncomfortable but also provide column inches for the show and got everybody talking. I can;t remember the last time Jonathan Ross had one of those moments.
Graham Norton is also nominated in the 'Entertainment Performance' category along with Sarah Millican, Alan Carr and who I think should win the award, Ant & Dec. I recently wrote a piece for The Huffington Post about why the Geordie duo continue to win awards so rather than repeating a lot of what I've already said, why not check that piece out.
For many of the same reasons that are in that post, I think the 'Reality and Constructed Factual' award should go to I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here which 11 years on continues to be a great Reality show, weirdly I think, not because of the celebs but because of Ant & Dec who hold it all together so well with such great humour. I mean sure, the celebrities provide most of the material for the duo and you need to look no further than Gillian McKeith and Helen Flanagan to know what I mean.
Other programmes nominated in this category are Made In Chelsea, which I have to admit I do enjoy watching, and Monday nights aren't the same without knowing the ins and outs of the Chelsea residents. Whilst I'm a big fan of The Apprentice, The Young Apprentice which has been nominated here I don't feel is as good. Sure these kids (16-17) are intelligent, talented and definitely have a business mind but a lot of the time it comes across as though they are playing the role of those in the grown-up edition and at times that can make for quite difficult watching. Then somewhat of a surprise nomination is one of Channel 4's "this will be bigger than Big Brother" ideas, The Audience. A rather boring show in which one person is followed by 50 members of the public for a week who observe that person's life and then at the end reach a verdict on whatever dilemma that person has been facing all week. Why this has been nominated, I'll never know.
So there we have it, that's who I think should win and I can't wait to tune in on May 12th on BBC One to see who went on to win.