Monday, April 21, 2008

Congratulations Amidst The Category Errors

There was partying late into the night at Lupin Towers at the success of Gavin and Stacey at the BAFTA Television Awards.

I almost wrote last week that G & S didn't stand a chance in the Programme of the Year category which is voted for by viewers. It has only ever been on BBC3 and BBC2 and was up against juggernauts like Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice. Clearly, its fans feel so passionately about it that large numbers of them took the trouble to vote. So the label 'cult sitcom', still being used today, seems rather absurd.

I also think 'sitcom' is a misnomer. 'Comedy drama' would be a more accurate description. However, since there's no 'comedy drama' category at the BAFTAs, James Corden was quite right to question why it hadn't been nominated in the Best Sitcom category.
But BAFTA's categories have long been a complete dog's breakfast.

Take the ridiculous 'Continuing Drama' category. This lumped The Bill with soaps like Eastenders and Emmerdale. But The Bill is not a soap. It has discrete, self-contained stories which it often wraps up in one or two episodes. And it has recently gone back to its roots with less about the personal lives of its characters, making it even less soap-like. Why doesn't BAFTA finally have a 'Soap' category and another for 'Popular Drama Series'?

I often think I watch far too much television, but last night there were only a few nominees I had ever seen. Since these were supposedly the cream of the television year, does that mean I mostly watch rubbish?
One award that delighted me was for 'Mark of Cain' as best single drama. If you've never seen it, I urge you to watch the next repeat.
Portrayed by some newspapers as a slur on the behaviour of British troops in Iraq, it was actually much deeper and more complex and had a stunning performance from Gerard Kearns of 'Shameless' fame.
It was written by Tony Marchant, whose work I follow with added interest since I spent a morning years ago helping him with research for a TV drama. He already had a BAFTA then but, like most writers, was quiet and self-effacing with no outward hint of the emotional power of his writing. I remember confiding to him that I had an early ambition to write a novel. "I can't imagine why anybody would want to write a novel", he replied. And why would you if you could reach millions of people with the brilliant TV dramas that Tony Marchant has created over the years?

Because of the clash with the BAFTAs, I didn't watch the final episode of Gavin and Stacey until 9 o'clock this morning. That's a very odd time to find yourself an emotional wreck from both tears and laughter. It was as brilliant a finale as we could have hoped for.

From recent interviews with James Corden, it now seems a third series is a real possibility, although only if the two writers are sure they can sustain the quality. There are online petitions calling for a third series and, after winning two BAFTAs, the pressure on James and Ruth will be intense. The problem for them is that it was never conceived as a long-running series. On the other hand, since most of the comedy comes from the characters, it should be possible to devise new situations for Pam and Bryn and, of course, Smithy and Nessa.
And let's have more of Smithy's sister, so wonderful in the last episode. And more of Gavin and Smithy's gang of mates. Let's have more of all of them, plus a CD of the music. Not forgetting the merchandising opportunities. I'm desperate for my Gavin and Stacey Oven Gloves - the oven glove discussion was one of dozens of little vignettes that were worthy of a BAFTA in themselves.
And I guarantee that, even as I write, someone is taking delivery of a T-shirt emblazoned with 'Oh! What's occurring?'


At 5:21 PM, Blogger cello said...

Yes, it was great to see G&S recognised. Mark of Cain was fantastic, but I was a little disappointed that Boy A, which broke my heart, didn't win best single drama. However, Andrew Garfield (?), who played the central role, won Best Actor which was thoroughly deserved. If you didn't see it, Willie, I urge you to try and catch it. It's amazing.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

We had one of our rare disagreements about Boy A when it was first shown.
Maybe I'll give it another try. I didn't stay with it till the end last time.

I'm now going to watch some old episodes of G & S before bed. It's better than any mind-altering drug, though quite addictive.
I won't lie to you.


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