Bafta defends all-white nominees list for Best Actress

Bafta representatives have defended the decline in ethnic diversity in this year’s Television Awards nominations.

The full list was announced on Wednesday 22 March, prompting complaints that This Is Going to Hurt’s Ambika Mod was snubbed in the Leading Actress category, where all nominated stars this year are white.

The BBC medical drama has been nominated in six categories for this year’s awards, with Ben Whishaw securing a Leading Actor nod for his role as former junior doctor Adam Kay, whose book the show is based on.

Bafta CEO Jane Millichip defended the nominees list, telling Deadline: “There is representation in that category in the fact that if you look at the age of the actresses and the roles written for them, it is extraordinary.

“This is something that we’ve discussed for a long time in the television and film world: Are there roles written for women over the age of 40? That is a really impressive result.”

Imelda Staunton, 67, has been nominated for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. Other nominees over the age of 40 include Kate Winslet, 47, for I Am Ruth, Billie Piper, 40, for I Hate Suzie Too, Maxine Peake, 48, for Anne and Sarah Lancashire, 58, for Julia.

Without Sin star Vicky McClure, 39, is the only actor under 40 nominated in the category.

Staunton, Winslet, Lancashire, Piper and Peake have all either won or been nominated for numerous Baftas over the years, so their inclusion as nominees doesn’t feel especially radical.

Deadline noted that more than 40 per cent of the nominees have been from non-white backgrounds in the past two years, but this figure has dropped to 24 per cent in 2023.

Bafta said this matches industry benchmarks and is above the national population breakdown in the 2021 census.

Sara Putt, Deputy Chair of Bafta and Chair of the Television Committee, said: “We are part of an ecosystem and we sit at the end of that pipeline. Our awards are a barometer of what’s going on in the industry…

“We will take the data and statistics from this year’s awards – nominations and winners – and that will form part of our conversations about what we do next year. It’s an ongoing conversation.”

Bafta faced criticism last month after 47 of the 49 winners at the Film Awards were white, and co-host Alison Hammond was the only Black person in the winners photograph.

Michelle Yeoh, who lost out at the film Baftas to Cate Blanchett but later won an Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once, reacted to the news of the all-white Bafta winners by turning to home comforts. Read more here.

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