Diversity takes centre stage at TV’s BAFTAS

<p>Ashley Banjo And Jordan Banjo</p>

Ashley Banjo And Jordan Banjo

21:50pm, Sun 06 Jun 2021
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Michaela Coel’s sexual consent drama I May Destroy You won top prizes at the TV Baftas where Diversity’s Black Lives Matter routine also scored a gong.

Ashley Banjo thanked the thousands of people who complained about the dance troupe’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent as the routine won the only award voted for by the public, the must-see moment.

The performance saw a man in a police uniform kneel on Banjo, echoing the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd and sparking more than 24,000 complaints to Ofcom.

But the TV watchdog dismissed the complaints, concluding that the routine’s “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”.

Banjo and his brother Jordan covered their faces in their hands as it was announced the dance troupe had won.

Ashley Banjo said: “This is mad, this is so much more than just an award.

“I want to just say first thank you to every single person who voted for us, it means so much.

“Thank you to everyone who stood by us.

“Every phone call, text, comment, DM, you guys made the difference to what was a really dark time, being in the storm of 30,000 complaints and just a torrent of racially charged abuse, threats, all of it, it was a dark time and that support made all the difference.

“In a way, I have to say thank you to the people that complained, the people that did all of that abuse because you showed the truth.

“You showed exactly why this performance, this moment, was necessary.

“But for all of those people, just take a look, because as much as there are so many conversations and so much that needs to change, this is what change looks like.

“And I’m so proud to be standing here and so thankful to all of those people.

“And for me, this is about not representing the minority.

“It felt like we weren’t at the time, but standing here right now, this represents the majority.

“So thank you all so much.

“Let’s keep having those difficult conversations, let’s keep standing up for what’s right regardless of the colour of our skin and we will achieve that equality.”

Coel was named best actress at the ceremony, where gongs were handed out at Television Centre in west London in front of a live but socially distanced audience of nominees, while I May Destroy You was named best miniseries.

Collecting the actress prize, she dedicated the award to the show’s director of intimacy Ita O’Brien, saying: “Thank you for your existence in our industry, for making the space safe for creating physical, emotional, and professional boundaries so that we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect, about abuse of power, without being exploited or abused in the process.

“I know what it’s like to shoot without an intimacy director, the messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew, the internal devastation for the actor.

“Your direction was essential to my show.

“And I believe essential for every production company that wants to make work exploring themes of consent.”

Coel has been vocal about abuse in the television industry and previously said she stands with actor and producer Noel Clarke’s accusers “in their indignation” after 20 women made allegations of misconduct.

Clarke has “vehemently” denied the allegations.

Paul Mescal was named best actor for his turn in Normal People, which also used the same intimacy co-ordinator, and thanked “the best scene partner,” his co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Actress Rakie Ayola paid a moving tribute to murdered black teenager Anthony Walker and his mother as she won a Bafta for her role in a TV drama about the life he might have lived.

She was recognised for her performance as Gee Walker in Anthony, a one-off film written by Jimmy McGovern about the life her son might have lived had he not been murdered by two white men in an unprovoked racist attack in a Liverpool park in 2005 when he was just 18.

Collecting the best supporting actress Bafta, she said: “I would ask anyone, if you think for a second to take the life of another, do whatever you can to stop.

“Gee Walker said to me the one reason she wanted her son’s story to be told is they might watch it and they might think about it long enough for someone to get away, just a few seconds to get up off the floor and run.”

Malachi Kirby was named best supporting actor for his role in Sir Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe, while Sex Education star Aimee Lou Wood won the gong for female performance in a comedy programme and This Country’s Charlie Cooper won the male comedy performance prize.

Sitting In Limbo, inspired by the Windrush scandal, was named best single drama.

Writer Stephen S Thompson dedicated the win to the victims of the scandal, adding: “We see you, we hear you, and we honour you.”

Save Me Too, starring Lennie James and Suranne Jones, was named best drama.

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