Killing Eve takes top prizes in Bafta TV awards 2019 | Television & radio

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Killing Eve came out on top at the 2019 British Academy Television Awards, winning best drama series, best leading actress for Jodie Comer, and best supporting actress for Fiona Shaw after seeing off competition from Patrick Melrose, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the Jed Mercurio drama Bodyguard.

Comer, who plays the Russian assassin Villanelle in the programme, struggled to hold back tears after she beat co-star Sandra Oh to win the award.

“I’ve watched the Baftas for many many years on my own in my bedroom,” said Comer. “It’s just the dream and I’m very emotional, I did blub the whole way through it.”

Shaw praised Phoebe Waller-Bridge – who wrote Killing Eve’s first series – for bringing the show to life thanks to her “glass-shattering genius and wayward imagination”.

The actor said she was initially unsure whether the show would be a success when she first read the script: “As I turned each page I was laughing. I wasn’t sure if it was something that could be amazing under the radar and five people in London would enjoy it, but I was laughing.”

Killing Eve star Jodie Comer



Killing Eve star Jodie Comer accepts her award. Photograph: James Veysey/Bafta/Rex/Shutterstock

Instead it took a meeting with the show’s writer to convince her to sign up: “I had the most delightful lunch with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and at the end of it I was her’s for life. And I still am.”

Killing Eve’s inclusion in the awards was controversial, since the programme was originally commissioned by the US network BBC America, meaning that despite its British creators the programme should not have been eligible for several categories. However, the organisers bent the rules and allowed it to be nominated in order to recognise its success and popularity.

The programme’s second series has already been shown in the US, with Shaw suggesting that the BBC would release it in the UK imminently.

Despite a number of nominations, Bodyguard only took home one award. It won the must-see moment prize, the only category voted for by members of the public, for the scene where Keeley Hawes’ character Julia Montague is assassinated.

Instead, plaudits went to Sky Atlantic’s Patrick Melrose series, based on Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novel about a drug-addled man coming to terms with historic abuse. The show won best mini-series and took the best leading actor award for Cumberbatch.

Other winners include Ben Whishaw, who picked up the best supporting actor award for his role in A Very English Scandal, while Ant and Dec collected the best entertainment programme for Britain’s Got Talent.

Benedict Cumberbatch won the best actor award for Patrick Melrose



Benedict Cumberbatch won the best actor award for Patrick Melrose Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Dec, who also picked up an award for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here … paid tribute to co-host Holly Willoughby, who stood-in for Ant following his drink-driving conviction: “It was a tough year, personally and professionally, but I just tried to keep the shows warm for when he came back,” said Dec.

The best single documentary went to Gun No. 6, about illegal firearms in the UK, while Louis Theroux won best factual series for his Altered States programme. Who Do You Think You Are? was named best feature programme.

The news coverage award went to Channel 4’s work on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with their undercover filming exposing the claims of the company’s former chief executive, Alexander Nix.

There was substantial applause from the audience for the family of Jerome Rogers, who took the stage to accept the best single drama award for the BBC programme Killed By My Debt. Rogers, a young motorcycle courier earning less than £30 a week on a zero-hours contract, killed himself aged 20 after being pursued by debt collection agencies over two unpaid £65 traffic fines.

The audience heard the British debt collection industry described as a “series of organised gangs extorting money from people who haven’t got it”, with Rogers’ family saying they hoped more people would watch the programme as a result and pressure the government to increase regulation of bailiffs.

One of the unexpected stars of the evening was Bros after the 1980s pop stars became unlikely cult heroes after the release of a documentary about their reunion tour last year. The likes of Cumberbatch sung the praises of the singers on the red carpet, while Charlie Brooker, the creator of Netflix’s Black Mirror, said he’d love to cast them in a future episode.

Brooker also said it was getting harder to maintain the cynicism in his dystopian drama: “We’re less knee-jerk cynical and probably more worried. Now I’ve got kids I’ve got a dog in this fight. Now that everyone is worried in the world it means I can slightly ease off on the gas.”

Daisy May Cooper at the Baftas.



Daisy May Cooper at the Baftas. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Daisy May Cooper, who was nominated for female performance in a comedy programme for This Country, turned up wearing a bin lid on her head and wearing a dress made out of a 16 litre rubbish bag, saying she would give the cost of hiring a proper costume to a food bank instead. She lost out to Jessica Hynes, who won for the BBC4 series There She Goes, about a family raising a child with learning disabilities.

Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls lost out to Sky’s Sally4Ever in the best scripted comedy category. Despite this, Siobhan McSweeney, who plays the nun Sister Michael in the programme, said on the red carpet that the show had been taken to heart by the people of Derry: “It is great for Northern Ireland to be portrayed in such a positive light, especially with the recent things that have happened. The people of Northern Ireland have shown nothing but absolute grace and kindness and great spirit.”

Other awards including the Bafta television fellowship given to Joan Bakewell, while Happy Valley producer Nicola Shindler was given a special award to recognise her contribution to the industry.

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