BAFTA Awards 2021: Michaela Coel Secures Two Wins, Paul Mescal Claims Leading Actor Honor

Malachi Kirby was named best supporting actor for Small Axe, while The Crown was shut out.

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Coel emerged the big winner at Sunday’s BAFTA TV Awards, where her acclaimed drama I May Destroy You added to its growing stash of statuettes. 

Coel beat out a competitive list of performances that included Letitia Wright (Small Axe), Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) to land the leading actress award, while I May Destroy You also pipped Small Axe to claim best mini-series. 

The two wins now give Coel a total of four BAFTA awards for her widely-adored BBC/HBO show, having claimed writer: drama and director: fiction at the BAFTA TV Craft Awards ceremony on May 24 (I May Destroy You also won for editing).

In her acceptance speeches, Coel took time to give special thanks to her I May Destroy You crew and its intimacy coach Ita O’Brien. Speaking at the winners press conference, she said that working on the drama — based on her own sexual assault — “replaced bad memories with really nice ones.”

Coel also confirmed that there wouldn’t be a second season, jokingly saying that the series had “been so huge as to destroy itself.”

Earlier in the night, Paul Mescal won leading actor for his turn as Connell in the hit BBC/Hulu drama Normal People, topping a category that included John Boyega (Small Axe) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown). A genuinely surprised Mescal dedicated his award to his co-star Edgar-Jones. 

After leading with 15nominations and claiming five honors at the craft awards, Small Axe had a disappointing night. However, Malachi Kirby — who starred in the Mangrove feature from Steve McQueen’s film anthology series — claimed the best supporting actor award for his portrayal of writer, broadcaster and justice campaigner Darcus Howe. Kirby dedicated the award to Howe — who passed away in 2017 at the age of 74 — saying he “wouldn’t have had a story to tell if he hadn’t lived it.”

It was an even quieter ceremony for The Crown, which — despite landing 10 nominations across both the TV and TV Craft awards, second only to Small Axe — didn’t land a single win. 

The ceremony itself, filmed at London’s Television Centre and hosted by Richard Ayoade, was a hybrid event that kept in line with COVID-19 protocols by allowing a number of nominees from the main performance categories to attend, with others taking part digitally.

Main list of BAFTA TV award winners below

Leading Actress
Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You – WINNER
Letitia Wright, Small Axe
Billie Piper, I Hate Suzie
Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People
Hayley Squires, Adult Material
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Leading Actor
Paul Mescal, Normal People – WINNER
John Boyega, Small Axe
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Paapa Essiedu, I May Destroy You
Shaun Parkes, Small Axe
Waleed Zuaiter, Baghdad Central

Drama Series
Save Me Too – WINNER
Gangs Of London
I Hate Suzie
The Crown 

Single Drama
Sitting In Limbo – WINNER
Bbw (On The Edge)
The Windermere Children 

Comedy Entertainment Programme
The Big Narstie Show – WINNER
Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe
Rob & Romesh Vs
The Ranganation Production

Live Event
Springwatch 2020 – WINNER
Life Drawing Live!
The Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance
The Third Day: Autumn 

Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment (as voted for by the public):
Britain’s Got Talent: Diversity perform a routine inspired by the events of 2020 – WINNER
Bridgerton: Penelope is revealed as Lady Whistledown
EastEnders: Gary kills Chantelle
Gogglebox: Reactions to Boris Johnson’s press conference
Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat: Mee-cro-wah-vay
The Mandalorian: Luke Skywalker arrives

I May Destroy You – WINNER
Adult Material
Normal People
Small Axe 

Reality & Constructed Factual
The School That Tried To End Racism – WINNER
Masterchef: The Professionals
Race Across The World
The Write Offs 

Female Performance In A Comedy Programme
Aimee Lou Wood, Sex Education – WINNER
Daisy Haggard, Breeders
Daisy May Cooper, This Country
Emma Mackey Sex Education
Gbemisola Ikumelo, Famalam
Mae Martin, Feel Good

Male Performance In A Comedy Programme
Charlie Cooper, This Country – WINNER
Guz Khan, Man Like Mobeen
Joseph Gilgun, Brassic
Ncuti Gatwa, Sex Education
Paul Ritter, Friday Night Dinner
Reece Shearsmith, Inside No.9

Supporting Actor
Malachi Kirby, Small Axe – WINNER
Kunal Nayyar, Criminal: UK
Michael Sheen, Quiz
Micheal Ward, Small Axe
Rupert Everett, Adult Material
Tobias Menzies, The Crown

Supporting Actress
Rakie Ayola, Anthony – WINNER
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Leila Farzad, I Hate Suzie
Siena Kelly, Adult Material
Sophie Okonedo, Criminal: Uk
Weruche Opia, I May Destroy You

Scripted Comedy
Inside No. 9 – WINNER
Man Like Mobeen
This Country 


Welcome To Chechnya: The Gay Purge (Storyville) – WINNER
Little America
Lovecraft Country

Single Documentary
Locked In: Breaking The Silence (Storyville) – WINNER
American Murder: The Family Next Door
Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism & Me
Surviving Covid 

BAFTA TV Craft Awards (ceremony held May 24)

Emerging Talent: Fiction
Georgi Banks-Davies (Director), I Hate Suzie – WINNER
Harry Tulley (Dubbing Mixer), Anthony
Stephen S. Thompson (Writer), Sitting in Limbo 
William Stefan Smith (Director), On the Edge: BBW

Emerging Talent: Factual
Marian Mohamed (Director) Defending Digga D – WINNER
Ashley Francis-Roy (Shooting Producer/Director) Damilola: The Boy Next DoorThe Real Eastenders 
Jessica Kelly (Director) The Schools that Chain Boys & Silicon Valley’s Online Slave Market 
Kandise Abiola (Producer) Terms & Conditions: A UK Drill Story