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The BAFTA TV Awards 2022 took place this Sunday, seeing A-listers gather in Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the past year in television.
From Jodie Comer to Sophie Willan, the well deserving BAFTA award winners got the world talking, but it was the political statements that made the most headlines. These centred around Channel 4 and its upcoming privatisation.
The government recently confirmed that the broadcaster would be sold off and privatised, having been publicly owned since it was founded in 1982.
The news was met with national outrage, and the protests extended onto the BAFTA red carpet this weekend, where attendees and award winners took their time in front of the cameras to take a stand.
“It is a really important thing to fight,” Aisling Bea told PA news agency on the red carpet about Channel 4’s privatisation. “It seems small, like it doesn’t affect everyone, but it truly affects everyone’s life, particularly from news and the journalism side of things.”
She continued: “When you see people trying to turn a public body that breaks stories like the Windrush scandal and you see people trying to take that over, it is really scary. It is the kind of thing that can slide away if you don’t stand bigger beside it.”
The award ceremony saw even more statements in support of public service broadcasting.
TV producer Stephen Lambert was among the first on the night to take a stand, using Gogglebox‘s reality BAFTA TV win to make a statement.
“Googlebox might have ended when it started nine years ago because it had modest ratings but a publicly owned risk-taking Channel 4 believed in it and they stuck with it,” he announced. “If the government goes ahead with its destructive plan to end Channel 4, these kind of risks will not be taken and a big part will have ended for no good reason.”
Director Steve McQueen also spoke out about the importance of public service broadcasting during his acceptance speech for documentary, Uprising, announcing: “The BBC and Channel 4 are things that we have to fight for and hold tight.”
Holly Walsh was up next, using her win for Motherland to continue the protests, insisting to the audience: “Public service broadcasting is a testament to what makes the BBC and Channel 4 so bloody fantastic.”
Mo Gilligan later added his voice to the cause for protecting Channel 4 in his BAFTA acceptance speech for The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan, telling the crowd: “They let me bring black boy joy, I really appreciate it. It would not have been possible without Channel 4, I know everyone has said it but it is so important.”
It wasn’t just the attendees who protested however, with the chairman and deputy chairwoman of BAFTA also releasing statements.
“Bafta is an arts charity and we just celebrate excellence and creativity in TV,” explained chairman Krishnendu Majumdar. “Obviously if you look at the nominations this year with the current system, which includes the brilliant commercial broadcasters, the brilliant streamers, but also public service television, we feel that if you look at the quality of the nominations, the system is working.”
“What I think we have is a very delicate ecosystem in this country across the public service broadcasters and the platforms and the streamers,” added Sara Putt, deputy chairwoman of BAFTA. “And it is very much in balance and it would be shame to see a loss of that balance.
“It has been really interesting and heart-warming to see the range of nominations today across Channel 4, the BBC, Netflix etc etc. So many different platforms, streamers and PSBs are represented and long may that be the case.”
We will continue to update this story.