Bafta TV awards 2023: Irish stars win big on night filled with impartiality jokes and emotional speeches

The biggest stars of the small screen gathered at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Sunday evening for the most important night in British television: the Bafta TV awards.

Irish-led shows Bad Sisters (Apple TV+) andDerry Girls (Channel 4), mental health drama I Am Ruth (Channel 4) and reality competition The Traitors (BBC One) led the charge, taking home two trophies each.

Claudia Winkleman won Best Entertainment Performance for her work on The Traitors and had the audience in stitches with her speech.

The Traitors was a huge hit for the BBC last year, with an average audience of 5.4 million, in large part thanks to Winkleman’s passionate presenting style – she was so invested in the finale that she burst into tears on camera.

Kate Winslet won the prize for Leading Actress for her role as a mother to a teenager struggling with depression in I Am Ruth. In a tearful acceptance speech, she said: “This means a great deal because it really does mean that small British television dramas can still be mighty.”

Speaking about her daughter Mia Threapleton – her co-star in the drama, who was also sitting in the audience – Winslet said: “There were days when it was agony for her to dig as deeply as she did, into very frightening emotional territory sometimes, and it took my breath away.

I Am Ruth was made for parents and their children, for families who feel that they are held hostage by the perils of the online world.

“For parents who wish they could still communicate with their teenagers but who no longer can.

“And for young people who have become addicted to social media and its darker sides – this does not need to be your life.

“To people in power and to people who can make a change – please criminalise harmful content. Please eradicate harmful content. We don’t want it. We want our children back.”

Kate Winslet during her Bafta TV awards speech (BBC)
Kate Winslet during her Bafta TV awards speech (BBC)

The ceremony, hosted by comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan, saw a musical performance from Lewis Capaldi, and hilarious, eccentric speeches from Siobhan McSweeney (winner of Female Performance in a Comedy for Derry Girls) and Lenny Rush (winner of Male Performance in a Comedy for BBC One’s Am I Being Unreasonable?).

Beckett and Ranganathan had a long-running skit throughout the evening about the importance of “balance” at the BBC, riffing on the recent impartiality rows the broadcaster has been embroiled in.

In their opening monologue, they also joked about accusations that Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby jumped the queue to see the Queen lying in state last year. Pointing out actor Imelda Staunton in the audience, Beckett said: “She’s nominated for her performance in The Crown. Apparently, Phil and Holly got to watch that a couple of days before everybody else.”

More big winners on the night included Ben Whishaw, who beat off competition from Cillian Murphy (BBC One’s Peaky Blinders) and Martin Freeman (BBC One’sThe Responder) to be named Best Leading Actor for his role as an overworked doctor in the BBC One Adam Kay adaptation This Is Going to Hurt.

Adeel Akhtar, meanwhile, won Best Supporting Actor for his intense performance in BBC One’s Sherwood, a drama about a relentless manhunt for a killer tormenting a fractured Nottinghamshire community.

Read the biggest talking points from the night here and the full winners list here.