Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar called on the industry to rally to protect public service broadcasting at last night’s awards as the government presses on with plans to shake up the funding models of the BBC and Channel 4.
Opening the ceremony, Majumdar hailed the “unique” PSB ecosystem as “one of the foundations of distinctiveness and independent of thought in this country”.
He declared: “Now is time for the industry to come together and stand up to make the case to protect public service broadcasting. I truly believe if we let it disappear – on our watch - it’ll be gone forever, and that would profoundly damage the very fabric of our culture.”
His words were backed by Studio Lambert founder Stephen Lambert.
Accepting the constructed reality award for Gogglebox, he said: “Gogglebox might have ended when it started nine years ago, because it got quite a modest audience. But a publicly-owned, risk-taking Channel 4 believed in it an they stuck with it.
“If the government goes ahead with its destructive plan to end Channel 4 as a public organisation, those kind of risks won’t be taken and a big part of what makes British television good will have ended for no good reason.”
Best entertainment winner Mo Gilligan recalled the genesis of his C4 series The Lateish Show.
“In 2017 when I got offered a show, my mental health wasn’t in the best place and Channel 4 brought me into this massive building,” he said. “I was going into a lot of these meetings and people were saying, ‘oh, you’re really good but we don’t know what to do with you’. They [C4] trusted me and they let me be myself and they let me bring black boy joy to people’s screens, so thank you so much Channel 4.”
Meanwhile, Motherland writer Holly Walsh, accepting the comedy award with the writing team of Merman’s BBC2 series, pointed out that all shows in the category were made for the BBC and Channel 4 - “which is a testament to why they are so bloody brilliant”.
Writer Kayleigh Llewellyn, who won best drama series for BBC3’s In My Skin, pointed out that the BBC picked up her show as a Comedy Slice pilot – “and didn’t flinch when I very clearly handed in drama scripts”.