Stars hit out at Tory plans for BBC reform at BAFTA TV Awards

'Wolf Hall' actor Mark Rylance defends BBC in awards acceptance speech

Many stars in the world of TV and film criticised the UK government’s proposed plans to reform the BBC at last night’s Bafta TV Awards.

The ceremony followed on from the BAFTA Film Awards in February, taking place at London’s Royal Festival Hall on May 8. The show was televised on BBC 1 on Sunday night (May 8).

The Conservative government publishes a white paper on the renewal of the BBC royal charter this week and reports suggest that mass reform is being proposed.

See the full list of BAFTA TV Award winners here.

Picking up the first award of the night for Best Drama Series, the director of BBC historical drama Wolf Hall Peter Kosminsky began his acceptance speech: “In the week in which our secretary of state John Whittingdale described the disappearance of the BBC as a tempting prospect, I’d like to say a few words in defence of that organisation.”

Kosminsky went on to accuse the government of trying to “eviscerate” the BBC and Channel 4, claiming they wanted to turn it into a state broadcaster “a bit like … those bastions of democracy Russia and North Korea”.

“It’s not their BBC, it’s your BBC,” he added. “In many ways, the BBC and Channel 4, which they are also attempting to eviscerate, are the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it, not let it go by default”

“If we don’t, blink and it will be gone. No more Wolf Halls, no more groundbreaking Dispatches [Channel 4 current affairs documentary series], just a broadcasting landscape where the only determinate of whether it gets made is whether it lines the pockets of shareholders.|

“This is really scary stuff, folks, and not something I thought I would see in my lifetime in this country. All of this is under threat right now, make no mistake. It’s time to stand up and say no to this dangerous nonsense.”

Mark Rylance (pictured above), who won Best Leading Actor for his role as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, echoed the criticism, later saying: “Woe to any government or corporation that tries to get between the British people and their love of a good joke, a true story, a good song, a fact or fiction, good sports commentating, newscasters who can hold themselves together as they tell stories about terrible tragedies in Paris, people who can help you bake cakes.”

“We’re a nation of storytellers, were admired around the world for it. Tonight I was struck with the quality of storytelling in the country and I agree with Peter [Kosminsky], times are hard.”

Have I Got News for You team captain Ian Hislop, Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood and The Missing actor James Nesbitt also joined in and spoke on behalf of the BBC.

The BBC picked up 14 awards on the night, more than the awards taken home by all the other channels combined.