This year’s BAFTA’s celebrated some poignant shows that have kept many of us sane during the lockdown period. The awards ceremony thus felt all the more significant as a product of this: the arts industry has had to adapt and survive amongst the lockdown restrictions while taking on the responsibility of uplifting our spirits at home. However, despite the pandemic, 2020’s content was still rich and provocative, and it was consistently exciting and exhilarating to watch…

BAFTA Awards 2021: Highlights and a Full List of the Winners by Jessica Doran

The awards ceremony kicked off with Years and Years star Olly Alexander performing his latest single ‘Starstruck’. Alexander also received critical acclaim this year for his role as Ritchie Tozer in the esteemed Channel 4 series It’s a Sin. Furthermore, the singer turned actor felt like a clear choice for the BAFTA’s opening act, and he also presented the award for Comedy Entertainment Programme later on in the show with It’s a Sin co-star Lydia West.

Normal People (2020) and I May Destroy You (2020) were amongst the television shows that took the nation by storm during the lockdown period. It was particularly pleasing to see Michaela Coel receive two awards for I May Destroy You (one for Miniseries and another for Leading Actress). The show was also deservingly nominated for Supporting Actress (Weruche Opia) and Leading Actor (Paapa Essiedu) – a great outcome for the thought-provoking series after it was strongly considered to be snubbed at the Golden Globes earlier this year.

Paul Mescal nervously stepped on stage to receive his BAFTA for Leading Actor in Normal People. The actor played the Irish heartthrob Connell in the BBC adaptation of the best-selling novel by Sally Rooney and seemed completely baffled by his BAFTA win. Supporting Actress winner Rakie Ayola also seemed humbled by her BAFTA win. The actress took to the stage to accept her award for her role in the series Anthony (2020), a film about a real man named Anthony Walker, who was murdered in Merseyside in 2005 after an unprovoked racial attack by two white men. The BBC film tells the fictional story of what Anthony’s life might have looked like had he not been killed.

Ayola dedicated part of her award to Anthony Walker’s mum: ‘‘thank you for having the bravery and the strength to ask Jimmy McGovern to write your son’s story, to celebrate the person that Anthony Walker should have been and never was.’’

This year, Romesh Ranganathan took home yet another BAFTA, this time for Entertainment Performance for his BBC television show Romesh Ranganathan: The Ranganation. The comedian admitted that he had filmed this series from the inside of his garage, confronting the amusing idea that: ‘‘in many ways, I feel like I’ve put in less effort and got more reward.’’

Meanwhile, BBC drama Small Axe (2020) was nominated for a whopping six awards across the board. The drama is based on the real lives of London’s West Indian community during the 1960s-1980s. Malachi Kirby, who plays Darcus Howe in the drama, received the BAFTA award for Supporting Actor and dedicated the award to his mum.

Aimee Lou Wood made a memorable presence on stage when she accepted her award for Female Performance in a Comedy Programme. In a frantic, yet authentic speech, Wood demonstrated her very much natural comedic tone while accepting the award for her role as Aimee Gibbs in Netflix’s Sex Education (2019-2020).

Poignantly, Diversity’s Ashley and Jordan Banjo accepted the award for Virgin Media’s Must-see Moment after the dance group’s Black Lives Matter tribute performance on Britian’s Got Talent (2020) was voted as the public’s favourite moment of the year. In his speech, Ashley Banjo commented on how much of a highlight this award was for the group, who had received 30,000 complaints and racially charged abuse earlier in the year for their routine which was aired on ITV.

Banjo said: ‘‘in a way, I have to say thank you to the people that complained, to the people that did put all of that abuse out there online because you showed the truth. You showed exactly why this performance and this moment was necessary.’’

A full list of the winners from the BAFTA awards can be found below:

Leading Actress:

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You – BBC One

Leading Actor:

Paul Mescal, Normal People – BBC Three

Supporting Actress:

Rakie Ayola, Anthony – BBC One

Supporting Actor:

Malachi Kirby, Small Axe – BBC One

Writer: Comedy:

Sophie Willan, Alma’s Not Normal – BBC Two

Writer: Drama:

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You – BBC One

Entertainment Performance:

Romesh Ranganathan, The Ranganation – BBC Two

Male Performance in a Comedy Programme:

Charlie Cooper, This Country – BBC Three

Female Performance in a Comedy Programme:

Aimee Lou Wood, Sex Education – Netflix

Drama Series:

Save Me Too – Sky Atlantic

Single Drama:

Sitting in Limbo – BBC One


I May Destroy You – BBC One

Soap and Continuing Drama:

Casualty – BBC One


Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge – BBC Four

Entertainment Programme:

Life & Rhymes – Sky Arts

Comedy Entertainment Programme:

The Big Narstie Show – Channel 4

Scripted comedy:

Inside No 9 – BBC Two


Long Lost Family: Born Without a Trace – BBC Two


The Great House Giveaway – Channel 4

Must-see Moment:

Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent

Current Affairs:

America’s War on Abortion – ITV

Single Documentary:

Locked In: Breaking the Silence – BBC Four

Factual Series:

Once Upon a Time in Iraq – BBC Two

Reality and Constructed Factual:

The School That Tried to End Racism – Channel 4

Specialist Factual:

The Surgeon’s Cut – Netflix

News Coverage:

Sky News: Inside Idlib – Sky News


England v West Indies Test Cricket – Sky Sports Cricket

Live Event:

Springwatch 2020 – BBC Two

Short-form Programme:

They Saw the Sun First – Red Bull TV

If you are also interested in the full list of nominees at this year’s BAFTA awards then click the link here.

BAFTA Awards 2021: Highlights and a Full List of the Winners by Jessica Doran