BAFTA TV Awards preview: Voting 101

Nominations for the BAFTA TV awards will be announced on April 30 and the winners will be revealed on May 27. (See program contenders report here and perfomer contenders report here.)

This is the third year that the eligibility period isn’t the straightforward calendar year; rather, a program must have been broadcast on British TV from March 1, 2011 to February 15, 2012. This change moved the TV awards later in the year so people wouldn’t confuse them with the BAFTA Film kudos.

But the two shows couldn’t be further apart. The film awards have soared into a world-wide event since separating from the TV ones and now have a firm place in the pre-Oscar race. The TV awards continue to have a slight air of uncertainty and disappointment about them. You are never too sure how some of the shows received nominations or wins while others that were expected to do well don’t even get nominated.

This is caused by the way the nominations are chosen. Firstly, the general BAFTA membership 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.

However, according to the BAFTA guidelines, “After the first round of voting 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.” This means that a broadcast network (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4) has the chance to submit extra entries that didn’t receive enough votes in the first round.

Thus, the second round of voting probably has another 10 entries per category supplementing the original six choices. Voting in this second round is restricted to small juries who view the chosen tapes and whittle the entries down to four nominees before choosing a winner.

Recent snubs have included a trio of hit BBC comedies: “Gavin & Stacey” was never nominated for Best Situation Comedy while “Outnumbered” and “Miranda” have only managed one bid apiece in this race and have never won a single award. On the other hand, critically panned shows such as “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” and “Little Miss Jocelyn” have managed to gain nods in the top comedy categories.

Even worse has occurred on the drama side in the last decade. Emmy-winning “The Gathering Storm” missed out on a nomination for Best Single Drama in 2002. The following year, the Best Drama Serial prize went to “Charles II: The Power and the Passion” which beat the far superior “State of Play” and “Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness” while another Emmy champ — “The Lost Prince” — was not even nominated.

The 2005 Emmy and Golden Globe winning mini-series “Elizabeth I” failed to be nominated in the Best Drama Serial category causing its star Helen Mirren, who was snubbed as well, to criticize the BAFTAs when she won the SAG Award calling the snub of the show “a disgrace.” That same fate befell Emmy winner “Little Dorrit” in 2008 which was never likely to get much of a boost from the BBC as they had canceled one of its episodes due to a news program.

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