It’s the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday night and the most tightly contested category is that of Best Actor, where Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock, James Nesbitt for The Missing and Jason Watkins for The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries face off against the wonderful Toby Jones, who is nominated for Marvellous. I must be honest, I didn’t much like Marvellous, I thought it was poorly written and directed with little emphasis on context, showing a poorly guided tour of Neil Baldwin’s life in a one-dimensional way. However, what saves it from crippling mediocrity is the presence of Toby Jones, who delivers one of his finest performances to date in a role that no one else other than him could play. This is why he deserves to win on Sunday.
You need to look at what the other nominees brings to the project they are in. Benedict Cumberbatch, one of the most overrated actors of his generation, is nominated for his sixth BAFTA, after nods for his work in Hawking, Small Island and 2 previous nods for Sherlock, along with his film nomination earlier this year for The Imitation Game. The fact that he has never won creates the false opinion that he is ‘overdue’, and I believe that this is the only reason why he is currently the favourite, that and his name recognition and A-list status makes him stand out from his fellow nominees. Need I remind you that the episodes of Sherlock for which he is nominated for debuted in January 2014, 16 months prior to Sunday’s ceremony. Yet, if Cumberbatch doesn’t win, there will be outrage from his fans, claiming that he was robbed again.
It’s nice to see James Nesbitt nominated for The Missing, and he is currently second favourite to win, helped massively by the fact that The Missing is a longer series, therefore there is more scope to show his range. Previously nominated for Bloody Sunday, but was snubbed for Jekyll, Nesbitt has proved himself as one of the best British character-actors currently working on TV, and one of the best Northern Irish actors since the heyday of Liam Neeson, Kenneth Branagh and Stephen Rea. I haven’t watched The Missing, but it is considered to be some of Nesbitt’s best work, and a win on Sunday wouldn’t be atrocious.
Jason Watkins is currently fourth in the odds, which is quite unfair, considering his wonderful performance in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, breaking away from the comedic roles for which he is known to transform into the real life character Christopher Jeffries. It’s unlikely that the first time nominee is going to win, but if Jones doesn’t, I’d love to see him take it.
Then we come to Jones, a previous nominee for The Girl, in which he portrayed Alfred Hitchcock and was also nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe, who is nominated for the aforementioned Marvellous. The warmth, honesty and care that he brings to Neil Baldwin, the former Stoke City kit-man with learning difficulties, is a complete testament to him as an actor. Having to work with a poor script that focusses to much on sentimentality and trying to make the programme feel-good, and still being able to deliver a great performance shows how great an actor he really is. An actor often left behind and not given the credit he’s due, he shines when he takes the limelight here. Stuck in supporting roles, despite them being in major films (Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games series, Captain America films), Jones breaks free for the first time since The Girl and his mistimed leading film debut Infamous (a Truman Capote biopic released the same year that Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for playing him in Bennett Miller’s Capote), and his reward should be the BAFTA. It is really Jones, not Cumberbatch, who is overdue.
The British Academy Television Awards are on BBC 1 at 8:00pm on Sunday 10th May 2015.