Bafta TV awards 2021: Small Axe leads nominations ahead of The Crown and Normal People

A report by Matthew Moore for the London Times.

Small Axe leads the nominations for this year’s television Baftas, with The CrownI May Destroy You and Normal People also well represented.

The BBC anthology series about West Indian immigrants, directed by Steve McQueen, secured 15 nominations, including in the leading actor category for John Boyega and leading actress for Letitia Wright.

The Crown’s ten nominations include recognition for Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip.

However, their co-stars in the Netflix royal drama — Olivia Colman as the Queen, Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales, and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher — were all overlooked.

The BBC’s acclaimed MeToo drama I May Destroy You is in the running for eight awards, including two for the show’s creator and star Michaela Coel, for leading actress and director.

Normal People received seven nominations, with co-stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal competing for lead actress and lead actor respectively. The BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s romantic novel is also up for best mini-series.

Elsewhere, the Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education secured six nominations, while Adult Material, the Channel 4 drama about the porn industry, and I Hate Suzie, a dark comedy-drama on Sky, both got five.

The cult BBC rural mockumentary series This Country is in contention for four awards, including comedy performance nominations for its creators, siblings Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper.

There were some surprises in the best drama category, with three Sky series — Gangs of LondonSave Me Too and I Hate Suzie — up against The Crown for the award.

The nominations announced this morning cover both the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards, which will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, June 6, and the British Academy Television Craft Awards a fortnight earlier.

Small Axe, which was screened late last year, was hailed by critics for its “mesmeric” evocation of the lives of immigration communities in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. Boyega is recognised for his performance as the Metropolitan Police officer Leroy Logan in the instalment Red, White And Blue, while Wright is nominated for her performance in Mangrove and McQueen is nominated for best director.

Prominent category nominations include:

Drama series
Gangs of London
I Hate Suzie

Save Me Too

The Crown

Leading actor
John Boyega, Small Axe
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Paapa Essiedu, I May Destroy You
Paul Mescal, Normal People
Shaun Parkes, Small Axe
Waleed Zuaiter, Baghdad Central

Leading actress
Billie Piper, I Hate Suzie
Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
Hayley Squires, Adult Material
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Letitia Wright, Small Axe
Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

Adult Material
I May Destroy You

Normal People

Small Axe

Lenny Abrahamson, Normal People
Benjamin Caron, The Crown (episode three)
Michaela Coel, Sam Miller, I May Destroy You
Steve McQueen, Small Axe

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