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This Week in British TV: All the Celeb Gossip from the BAFTAs

By Caspar Salmon | TV | February 18, 2011 |

By Caspar Salmon | TV | February 18, 2011 |

Guten tag, meine Damen und Herren! How are you doing? This week was a slightly fallow period for TV, even if I did watch good episodes of “The Promise” and “Skins” — but since I wrote about those fairly recently I’ll save them up for a later once-over. In the meantime, I’ve got a recap on an old favourite and all the celeb goss from the Baftas. Let’s do it.

The British Academy Film Awards

That’s the Baftas, to you and me. You know: the awards show that desperately strives to be something more important than a jumped-up church fete with prizes for best silly walk and best runner-up-who-tried-really-hard-and-would-have-won-if-only-he-were-American. You know: the awards show that can’t do any better than get Jonathan Ross, who has exactly zero worldwide cachet, to present it. Oh come on, you know the one: the awards show that’s got slightly less traction and credibility in showbusiness than the Golden Globes.

The Baftas were back in their new glitzy time-slot between the Globes and the Oscars, making the most of their new spot in the awards sunshine, but still — as I subtly hinted in the previous paragraph — suffering from an image problem; still struggling to work out what they mean and what sort of atmosphere and connotations they want to conjure up. The Baftas used to reward predominantly British endeavour in film and television, and had an image of slightly dusty entertainment, which sought to reward workmanlike endeavour in the noble craft of thesping. Now, they’ve got some Americans on board and are trying to go all shiny, but the problem is that they still try and crowbar in some frankly shitty British stuff in a bid to boost the profile and wallet of British cinema. This year was slightly less embarrassing because there are a few people abroad who also think The King’s Speech is quite good, so there was a little more legitimacy in rimming its makers over the course of the evening — but why the acclaim for Made In Dagenham and the Harry Potter franchise? None of it adds up. If we’re really rewarding British film, why didn’t Four Lions, Another Year, Neds or The Arbor get more love? Was Emma Watson made to say she felt proud to be British, or was it just all the gung-ho jingoism that infected her sense on the night?

The show itself was OK, although it suffered from the usual longueurs of awards shows (why have a long and crap dance routine and opening monologue at the start and then abridge everyone’s speeches so much? Also: were those dancers the only black people at the entire ceremony? Because that would be seriously appalling if so.). My favourite moment was the speech by the actors of Four Lions, relaying a text they had received from its director, Chris Morris: “doused in petrol, zippo at the ready.” My next favourite moment was a great big fluffing of lines by Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper. (True story: a friend of mine went out with Dominic Cooper’s brother. Pajiba: bringing you all the juicy insider gossip you need!) Pike and Cooper came out and absolutely murdered their presenting bit, with the assistance of a defective autocue that completely flummoxed them. I love the moment because Pike was so cool throughout, looking beautiful and speaking in her normal, frank voice. She cracked a classic gag about Cooper, casting doubt on whether he actually is in the forthcoming Captain America as announced, and improvised some rubbish lines about the talents of screenwriters. Everyone always loves the fuck-ups in awards shows: why don’t they build in more of them? My third favourite moment was Helena Bonham-Carter.

Best two people I always want to see at awards ceremonies: Tilda Swinton and Eva Green. Person I never want to see at awards ceremonies: Paul McCartney. The show ended with a genuinely touching tribute to Christopher Lee, in which he hobbled on and burbled some emotional thanks in his beautiful gravelly voice, now with added catarrh. The presenting by Jonathan Ross was pretty rubbish, I thought; there was one excellent joke about Harvey Weinstein “dying for a tweet,” which was both a Twitter gag and an ace use of Ross’s speech impediment, and there were lame gags about Sex and the City 2. I think the Baftas should hire a really wonderful presenter who would inject some whoomph and edge to proceedings.


The Brit Awards

OMG, like, jk lol! Of course I didn’t watch the Brits! What am I, a reader of Q Magazine? But I did watch a Youtube performance from it the next day, and my tip to you all is to google ‘Adele + Brits’ and watch her sing ‘Someone Like You’. I didn’t even like her that much before today (“Chasing Pavements” is a terrible, terrible song), but this is really rather special. Sit back and enjoy. You’re welcome!

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Being Human

I caught up with a few more epidoses of “Being Human” after not being especially kind to the first ep of the new season a couple of weeks ago, and I tell you what, it’s seriously not bad. What was missing from that first instalment, clearly, was the involvement of Lenora Crichlow as Annie, the-one-who’s-a-ghost. From the second episode the quality of the series picked up, almost entirely because of Crichlow’s return from the afterlife, imbued as it now was with her winning gawkiness, 10,000-watt charisma, charming line readings and all-round likability. Sometimes all it takes is an undefinable star quotient. With her on board, the show’s some-time creakiness and its lack of thrills don’t matter at all.

In the latest episode, this season’s prediction in episode one that Mitchell would be killed by a werewolf came to the fore with the gang coming fang to fang with a father and son werewolf, two displaced and strange souls whom the gang somehow befriend. Mitchell (the vampire one, hunkily played by the comically-coiffed Aiden Turner) rubs the father chap up the wrong way, nearing the prophecy of his death, while the son learns about his true origins, and George and his girlfriend (the two werewolf ones, keep up) seek to learn whether their impending baby together will be OK at the full moon. Meanwhile, in the best set-up, Annie the ghost tries to find a woman as a sex present for Mitchell to hook up with. Crichlow’s hilarious bravado as the reluctant-yet-game Annie was a real delight, reaching great heights when embarrassedly witnessing her boyfriend progressively get more and more into the act of doing another girl in front of her. She turned the scene from outright comedy to horror and sadness in the blink of an eye. Majestic.

I also felt a little more emotionally invested with the other two ones — the werewolf ones — in this episode, who at last felt a little more like a couple than a pair of bickering housemates. Their storyline could do with connecting a bit more with our hearts, as they often seem reduced to comedy stooges, which is a shame because I think the actors are able enough. “Being Human” is decent, but I could just wish for a little more - a more personal aesthetic, say, such as “Skins” or “Misfits” or “Getting On” have - or for a great moment of tragedy to really kick the audience in the guts. Too often, “Being Human” feels like it’s just bumbling along. It’s not that it’s not watchable - it is, and it’s likable and fun and good, even - but it doesn’t have that extra je ne sais what.

Caspar Salmon can sometimes fill in almost three quarters of the Guardian cryptic crossword.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.