And the Bafta goes to... Paul Mescal for Normal People

Bafta snubs and surprises: Casualty wins gold while the crown misses out
And the Bafta goes to... Paul Mescal for Normal People

Paul Mescal poses for photographers with his Leading Actor award for his role in 'Normal People' backstage at the British Academy Television Awards in London, Sunday, June 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Paul Mescal hailed the "life-changing" impact Normal People has had on him after he was named the winner of the Bafta leading actor award tonight.

The actor, who played Connell Waldron in the hit series. After the ceremony, Mescal said the programme "totally changed my life and has given me an opportunity to continue doing the job that I love".

The programme, adapted from the Sally Rooney novel of the same name, focuses on the on-off relationship between Irish teenagers Marianne and Connell, beginning in their school days through to their time at university.

Mescal said the programme focuses on "the normal human in society and treats their joys and traumas and tribulations with utter respect".

"I think it struck a chord because it's seeing two people that I feel people can relate to and seeing how they navigate life," he added.

"It's quite a simple premise and trusts an audience to engage and be challenged by it."

He also credited the programme with introducing him to his "best friend in Daisy (Edgar-Jones)", who played Marianne.

Mescal said he would "love" to do another series of Normal People and "would work with Daisy again in a heartbeat".

"Regardless of work or anything like that, I'm just excited to see her so we can see each other again. It will be great," he said.

However he said there is "nothing at all in the pipeline" for another series of Normal People.

Mescal, who was a guest presenter for last year's Bafta television awards ceremony, said it has been a "weird year".

"It kind of feels full circle, having presented here last year to be in a room with people... at the forefront of television at the moment and it was really quite special and emotional."

Meanwhile, it was a triumphant night for Michaela Coel and her powerful drama I May Destroy You at the Bafta television awards.

But there was disappointment for royal drama The Crown, which had been nominated for four prizes but left empty handed.

Josh O'Connor, who was nominated in the leading actor category for his turn as the Prince of Wales, was defeated by Normal People's Paul Mescal, while Tobias Menzies, who plays the Duke of Edinburgh, lost out on the supporting actor prize to Small Axe's Malachi Kirby.

Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, was pipped to the supporting actress prize by Rakie Ayola for Anthony while Save Me Too beat the show to the drama series prize.

Kirby's win was the only prize taken by Sir Steve McQueen's anthology series, despite leading the nominations for the ceremony with six nods.

It had previously dominated at Bafta's craft awards, where it won five awards, for makeup and hair design, costume design, production design, photography and lighting (fiction) and scripted casting.

Sky Arts series Life & Rhymes was the surprise winner of the entertainment programme gong, beating Saturday night staples Strictly Come Dancing, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and The Masked Singer.

Meanwhile Casualty was named best soap or continuing drama, just days after the BBC announced its spin-off show Holby City will end next year.

The medical drama defeated Coronation Street, EastEnders and Hollyoaks.

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