WHAT did TV mean for you in 2018? For most of us it meant binge-watching a box set on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Walter Presents as streaming channels raised the bar like never before. There were terrestrial water-cooler exceptions — Bodyguard, for one — but TV viewing habits have changed forever: the streaming giants are no longer outliers, they are the major players.
Well, that’s what you’d think. And then you take a look at the Bafta TV nominations — the awards are on Sunday — and all you see is a deluded attempt to stick the genie back in the bottle.
How many nominations do you reckon Netflix has out of the 102 up for gongs across all the categories? Spoiler alert: Just two. One for the outstanding Bandersnatch and one for a Must See moment (a viewer-voted section) in Queer Eye.
OK, this is the British TV awards, so Netflix and co are hardly likely to sweep the board. But by reducing the world of TV to one ‘International’ category — two docs v two dramas (one of which is The Handmaid’s Tale, that’s how out of touch this list is) — Bafta has failed to reflect what’s best about the medium it’s supposedly celebrating.
Not that we’ll get that from Sunday night’s backslapping. TV has changed — but like an ostrich sticking its head in an analogue set that only gets three channels, Bafta has failed to get with the programme.
THE AWARDS: WHO SHOULD — AND WHO WILL — WIN
Hugh Grant’s droll Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal should head off stiff competition from Benedict Cumberbatch’s bravura Patrick Melrose in a battle of acting heavyweights. But Golden Globe winner Richard Madden has every right to feel aggrieved for being snubbed after keeping the nation on the edge of its seat.
I’d like to see Ruth Wilson win for underrated family memoir Mrs Wilson but this one has Jodie Comer’s name on it — the achingly cool Killing Eve is likely to hoover up awards.
The tumbleweed will be deafening if Killing Eve doesn’t pick up this gong. But Bodyguard, Save Me or outsider Informer are equally — no, more — deserving. There, I’ve said it.
It’s Grant v Cumberbatch again as A Very English Scandal faces down Patrick Melrose. Too close to call.
Female performance in a comedy programme
I’d love to see Lesley Manville win for the bittersweet joy that is Mum but she may have to wait until next year’s final series as This Country has Bafta written all over it — a rural folk satire is home turf for any Cotswolds-dwelling Bafta member. Daisy May Cooper will shade it.
Male performance in a comedy programme
The masterly Inside No 9 has been ludicrously ignored by the Baftas so it would be nice to see Steve Pemberton win for it — but where was the nod for Reece Shearsmith? Pemberton for the win, with Peter Mullan, brilliant as lovelorn Michael in Mum, a worthy runner-up.
Sally4Ever and Stath Lets Flats have a bizarre number of nominations for shows that were only quite good. Here the showdown is between the excellent Derry Girls and dear old Mum. We’d go for Mum but it looks like a Derry win.
We could fill the whole page with great international shows but this is what Bafta came up with: 54 Hours: The Gladbeck Hostage Crisis v The Handmaid’s Tale v Reporting Trump’s First Year: The Fourth Estate v Succession. I rest my case.
BATTLE OF THE TV THEME TUNES
I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses from Chambers (Netflix)
This supernatural thriller starring Uma Thurman has its plot flaws but the use of I Wanna Be Adored to capture the central character’s complex mind-meld is inspired. The Stone Roses revival starts here.
Spirit by Gavin Clark & Toydrum from Follow The Money (BBC4)
Does Denmark’s Follow The Money nail police corruption more sharply than Line Of Duty? Either way, it has a better soundtrack. Spirit, by the late Gavin Clark, a Shane Meadows collaborator and Unkle member, is a gritty opener.
Ride Upon The Storm by Claus Hempler (ft Dragonborn) from Ride Upon The Storm (Walter Presents)
You’ll swear it’s Richard Hawley singing this ballad, which captures Ride Upon The Storm’s themes of faith and alienation. Actually, it’s Claus Hempler, a veteran of Denmark’s indie scene.
Cups by Lulu & The Lampshades from Mum (BBC2)
You might know it from Pitch Perfect but this update of a 1931 a capella tune is by Luisa Gerstein and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, trading as Lulu & The Lampshades. It perfectly captures Mum’s offbeat comedy. The series returns on May 15.
Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin from The Haunting Of Hill House (Netflix)
The series might have an anticlimactic finale but folk star Griffin’s Heavenly Day is a true heartbreaker in episode five. She’s an underrated talent — check her out.
■ The Bafta TV Awards are on Sunday at 8pm on BBC1, bafta.org