Monday, 13 February 2012

Stop Getting The BAFTAs Wrong

So that was this year’s BAFTA film awards: massively predictable, largely pointless but occasionally fun (The Jacko And Rusty Show MUST HAPPEN), and – as usual – an absolute nightmare for anyone who’s actually interested, thanks to the annual insanity that is the decision to only broadcast edited highlights two hours after the event.

I’ve no idea if it’s the decision of BAFTA or the BBC not to carry the awards live (I’m not an investigative journalist, leave me alone), but I do know that in 2012 it’s pretty fucking embarrassing that our national broadcaster doesn’t broadcast to the nation, as it happens, our own attempt to celebrate the year in film.

Nowhere is the frustration more apparent than on Twitter. People bravely avoiding their smartphones so as not to have the winners revealed to them before they watch the highlights show are routinely sent round the bend as the results are splashed all over the place by media outlets and people in the know, while those at home are still negotiating Stephen Fry’s linguistically labyrinthine introduction.

But there’s a bigger problem with the edited highlights show. Because so few people are interested in the so-called “technical” awards, they’re patronisingly squeezed into a couple of minutes at the end when everyone’s already switched off, as if they’re an inconvenient annoyance that Auntie is contractually obliged to mention. I mean, costume design isn’t really that important, is it? Music? Cinematography? Sound? Foreign language films? Who cares, right?

I’m not suggesting that BBC 1 gives up acres of its schedule to a minority interest event – after all, it’s hardly as prestigious as the hours of synchronised swimming that’ll be available to watch this summer – but it does seem to me that, in an age of multi-platform media, digital channels and red buttons, there must be room somewhere in a corner of the Beeb to squeeze the whole ceremony in. How about, oh, I don’t know, BBC 4? You know, the BBC’s dedicated arts and culture channel? Why not carry the whole shebang live over there and leave the highlights on BBC 1 as they are? The audience might be small, but is it smaller than that for Treasures Of Heaven, the show that explores the ancient Christian practice of preserving holy relics, which was on BBC 4 while Meryl Streep was losing her shoes? No idea, but as fans of the channel rightly point out, it’s not about the ratings.

David Cameron wants a British film industry that produces nothing but financially successful blockbusters, and he’s clearly clueless for saying so. But if he’s trying to encourage a successful industry (a not entirely unworthy aim), wouldn’t it be good if we could give over more than a few seconds each year to celebrating the technicians – many of whom are British – the likes of which were rewarded on Sunday night for their contributions to that industry? Giving them full coverage on a minority channel is surely better than jamming them into the dying frames of the highlights show like embarrassing relatives.

I’m no fan of awards and I’m not a massive patriot, but I am a fan of celebrating what’s great about film and I’m all for showing the world that this country can produce quality like Tyrannosaur, Attack The Block and Submarine. But when we can’t even be bothered to treat our own annual back-slapping ceremony with a fraction of the respect afforded to the Oscars, then why should Britain’s movie-going, telly-watching public ever care about the BAFTAs?

Sorry about that. Normal, Roger Moore-photoshopping service will be resumed shortly.


  1. Amen!
    Couldn't agree more.

  2. The movie business is just that - a business. The glamour of awards and premiers is just froth whipped up to get free advertising for the product and get more bums on seats. Giving equal airtime to the technicians, worthy as they are will not add to the box office take. Anyway the magic of film is destroyed by too much knowledge of how it is made. An argument could be made for keeping CGI techniques a secret.

    The logical outcome of this is that if the technical awards are to be truncated this can only be achieved by delaying the whole broadcast. BAFTA awards shows have been broadcast after a delay for decades now. It is not a recent thing. The press release has always been embargoed until the broadcast showing. This worked fine in the past when only a few people had mobile phones and any journalist spilling the beans earlier would find a lot of doors closed next time round. Today with many channels and with twitter it does more harm than good to delay reality. Audiences are used to sports shows hopping around channels so there is no reason why the prime awards could not have been live on BBC ONE or TWO with the technical awards live on BBC THREE or FOUR.

    1. BAFTA twitter was live-tweeting everything. And it's not like stuff such as comic relief doesn't skip around the channels during the news. Or if they're that desperate for BBC1 space - since the majority of the 'major' awards were announced pre-9pm, show the entire thing live on BBC 4 and put the highlights on BBC1 when convenient.

  3. I found the constant live-tweeting from people attending the ceremony the most irritating aspect of this year's BAFTAs. But not in a spoiler-sense.

    More in the sense that only a handful of those in attendance had anything remotely interesting to say - a feed full of "X has won Y #BAFTAs" was possibly the most inane thing I've ever experienced on Twitter. More so than X-Factor evenings.

    Who needs insight when you can just read the same thing 26 times in the space of two minutes?