BAFTA TV Awards snub ‘Downton Abbey,’ ‘Call the Midwife’ again

This year’s BAFTA TV Awards nominations came from programs that aired between Feb. 15, 2012 and Dec. 31 2012. Next year, eligibility will shift to the calendar year to match up with the film awards which have become an important precursor prize to the Oscars. 

While the film folk overhauled their nomination process this year, the TV side stayed the same, resulting in some perplexing nominations and snubs. 

Downton Abbey” was completely blanked after reaping only one bid last year for the scene-stealing Maggie Smith. (Watch exec producer Gareth Neame talk about last year’s snub here.)

Also ignored was the BBC hit drama “Call the Midwife,” which does vie for the people’s choice prize. 

And “Paradise,” a lavish period drama about retail empires in turn of the 20th century Britain, was ignored as well. 

Among the laffers, the hugely successful “Miranda” was snubbed again though star Miranda Hart does contend for Female Comedy Performance.

How did these top-rated shows, which were also critically lauded, get left off the list of contenders?

The way in which BAFTA determines the nominees and winners lets too few decide too much. Add to that the lack of categories for performers and you are left with a lot of odd omissions.

The entire BAFTA membership, which numbers in the thousands, can vote for up to six programs or individuals per category. The top six vote getters in each category then go through to a second round of voting.

Then, according to the BAFTA guidelines, “each broadcaster has the opportunity to enter an additional program per category, per channel. In the case of terrestrial channels that have digital channels, the broadcaster can only choose one of their digital channels in which to put a program forward; this does not affect their right to enter their terrestrial channels.”

Thus, the second round of voting may have upwards of 10 further contenders per category supplementing the original six choices of BAFTA members.

Voting in this second round is restricted to juries of just nine members who view the chosen tapes and whittle the entries down to four nominees before choosing a winner. It is possible that many of these nominees and even winners could be the secondary submissions of broadcasters rather than the primary picks of BAFTA voters. 

As per BAFTA, “each jury aims to be balanced in age, sex, experience, ethnicity and in broadcasting allegiances, with a track record of achievement in the genre and with no direct association with a short-listed programme. It must also comprise a mix of related skills such as writers, producers, directors, actors.”

With only four programs nominated per category, the odds of reaping bids are long. And they get even more remote for performers. While there are separate awards for one-off telefilms, miniseries (defined as two to five episodes) and drama series (six to 19 installments), all the performances across these genres are pitted against each other to fight for four slots for each of lead and supporting actor and actress. 

Even worse, there are no supporting awards on the comedy side and none at all given for performers in continuing dramas such as “Coronation Street” and “Eastenders” which are mainstays of the ITV and BBC primetime schedules respectively with five episodes per week drawing upwards of 10 million viewers.

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