British Academy Television Awards

The British Academy Television Awards, also known as the BAFTA TV Awards, are presented in an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). They have been awarded annually since 1955.

British Academy Television Awards
2019 British Academy Television Awards
British Academy Television Awards logo
Awarded forThe best in television
Country United Kingdom
First awarded1955 (1955)


The first ever Awards, given in 1955, consisted of six categories. Until 1958, they were awarded by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors. From 1958 onwards, after the Guild had merged with the British Film Academy, the organisation was known as the Society of Film and Television Arts. In 1976, this became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

From 1968 until 1997, the BAFTA Film and Television awards were presented in one joint ceremony known simply as the BAFTA Awards, but in order to streamline the ceremonies from 1998 onwards they were split in two. The Television Awards are usually presented in April, with a separate ceremony for the Television Craft Awards on a different date. The Craft Awards are presented for more technical areas of the industry, such as special effects, production design, or costumes.

The Awards are only open to British programmes—with the exception of the audience-voted Audience Award and the International Award (this is for a single programme or series acquired from the international marketplace, covering all genres)—but any cable, satellite, terrestrial or digital television stations broadcasting in the UK are eligible to submit entries, as are independent production companies who have produced programming for the channels. Individual performances, such as from actors, can either be entered by the performers themselves or by the broadcasters. The programmes being entered must have been broadcast on or between March and February of the following year to be eligible for the year's awards. Entry is free, and entry forms are made available between November and January each year.

After all the entries have been received, they are voted for online by all eligible members of the Academy. The programmes and performances attracting the most votes, usually four in each category, are shortlisted as the nominees for each award. The winner is chosen from the four nominees by a special jury of nine academy members for each award, the members of each jury selected by the Academy's Television Committee. Each jury is designed to have a balance in areas such as sex, age and experience, and have experience related to the categories concerned but no direct connections to the short-listed programmes or performers.

There are also a number of non-competitive honorary Awards—the Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing for Television; the Alan Clarke Award for Outstanding Creative Contribution to Television; the Richard Dimbleby Award for Outstanding Presenter in the Factual Arena; the Fellowship for individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to television across their careers, and various Special Awards given on an ad hoc basis. These Awards are suggested by the Television Committee and awarded by the Academy's Council. They are not necessarily always given every year, but as and when appropriate.

The Awards ceremony is broadcast on British television, usually the day after it has taken place. Between 1998 and 2006, it was alternated between ITV and BBC One. But since 2007, it has been broadcast by BBC One.


In 1991, a controversial selection was made in the Best Drama Serial category, when Prime Suspect beat G.B.H. to win the award.[1] Following the ceremony, four of the seven voting members of the jury signed a public statement declaring that they had voted for G.B.H. to win.[1] Jury chairperson Irene Shubik, who did not cast a vote, refused to comment publicly on the affair, but BAFTA Chairman Richard Price stated that the ballot papers passed on to him by Shubik had shown four votes for Prime Suspect and three for G.B.H.[1] Price claimed that the ballot papers could not be recounted as they had subsequently been destroyed. No blame was ever attached to Shubik by the four judges, and it was to her that they had initially turned to raise the apparent discrepancy with BAFTA.[2]


The main competitive Award categories presented every year are:

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Comedy (Programme or Series)
    • Includes sketch shows. Judged on the basis of a single episode.
  • Lew Grade Award for Best Entertainment Programme
    • Includes general entertainment programmes, variety shows, game shows, quizzes, panel games, stand-up and celebrity chat shows. Judged on the basis of a single episode.
  • Best Entertainment Performance - Known as Best Light Entertainment Performance prior to 2000.
  • Best Female Comedy Performance - Previously one award for Best Comedy Performance, Separate male and female categories created in 2010.
  • Best Male Comedy Performance
  • Best Drama Serial
    • A drama where one main story is told across more than one episode, and the story is resolved in the final episode.
  • Best International Programme
  • Best Drama Series
    • A drama which consists of several episodes, but each episode tells a self-contained story, with the same characters continuing across the episodes.
  • Best Single Drama
    • A drama where one self-contained story is told in a single one-off episode, equivalent to a television movie. The minimum length is five minutes.
  • Best Soap and Continuing Drama
    • A drama which transmits a minimum of twenty episodes per year. The nominees are typically soap operas.
  • Best Current Affairs - replaced
    • The entered programme can be a one-off or part of a series, but if part of a series the same episode may not also be entered in another category. This category was ceased in 2007 due to lack of entrants for the award.[3] However, current affairs programmes can still qualify, but under the category of either Best Single Documentary or Best Factual Series, depending on the genre of the programme. Longlist and nominations for these two categories are expected to expand.
  • Best Factual Series or Strand
  • Best Mini-Series[4]
  • Best Feature
    • For programmes not included in any other category, for example cookery, gardening, lifestyle or discussion programmes.
  • Flaherty Award for Single Documentary
    • For a one-off documentary not presented as part of a regular series. Entered programmes cannot also be entered in any other category.
  • Huw Wheldon Award for Specialist Factual
    • Awarded to Arts, History, Natural History or Science one-offs or series, either factual or performance-based. Entered programmes cannot also be entered in any other category.
  • News Coverage
    • For an individual news programme in its entirety, or up to one hour's unedited. material from a rolling news channel.
  • Situation Comedy Award
    • For sitcoms.
  • Sport
    • For a sports programme, as transmitted.
  • The Pioneer Award
    • Given to programme makers who have achieved success by novel or pioneering approaches. The short-list for this award is prepared by a vote of national television critics, and the winner voted for by the general public, the only BAFTA Television Award given in such a manner.
  • International Prize
    • For programmes made outside the United Kingdom and/or Ireland. The award was originally handed out in the 1990s but was ceased in 1998. It returned in 2007 replacing the "Current Affairs" category which absorbed to either Best Factual Series and Best Single Documentary.[3]

In 2010 the YouTube Audience Award was added.

See also


  1. Wittstock, Melinda (8 April 1992). "Confusion becomes the BAFTA prime suspect". The Times. London. p. 1.
  2. Wittstock, Melinda (2 May 1992). "'Fibs' slur incenses BAFTA award judges". The Times. London. p. 18.
  3. Brook, Stephen (5 January 2007). "Current affairs category dropped from Bafta TV awards". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  4. "BAFTA Awards Search | BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
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