Wolf Hall's Mark Rylance and Peter Kosminsky warn against plans to reform TV
Published 08/05/2016 | 02:51
Wolf Hall actor Mark Rylance warned "woe to any government or corporation" who try to come between the British people and their television at the Bafta TV Awards.
Accepting the leading actor award for his role as Thomas Cromwell, he echoed the thoughts of director Peter Kosminsky as both spoke out ahead of the Government's White Paper on the future of the BBC on Thursday.
Rylance said: "Tonight I was struck with the quality of storytelling in this country and I agree with Peter that the times are hard, but woe to any government and any corporation who tries to get between the British people and their love of a good joke, a true story, a good song, a fact, a fiction, good sports commentating, newscasters who can hold themselves together as they tell stories about tragedies in Paris, people who can bake cakes.
"The incredible variety of popular culture in this country, it's really blown my mind tonight. I think woe to any government or any corporation that tries to come between that."
After a break for assenting applause from the audience, he continued: "We're a nation of storytellers, we're admired around the world for it and long may it live and long may it be a privilege to the people here without having to watch commercials."
Kosminsky earlier in the ceremony hit out at the Government, saying it is trying to "eviscerate" the BBC, and adding that he felt now "is a dangerous time for broadcasting in Britain".
Speaking as he accepted best drama series for the Hilary Mantel adaptation, he also warned that this would mean there would be no more productions like the Tudor drama.
He referred to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale's reported plans to interfere with the scheduling of shows such as the BBC News and Strictly Come Dancing as similar to the "bastions of democracy Russia and North Korea".
He said: "In many ways our broadcasters, the BBC and Channel 4, which they're also attempting to eviscerate, are the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it.
"This is really scary stuff folks, not something I thought I'd see in my lifetime in this country.
"It is not their BBC, it's your BBC. There will be no more Wolf Hall, no more groundbreaking Dispatches."
Instead, he claimed programming would be made on the basis of how much it "lines the pockets of its shareholders" and urged viewers to "stand up to this dangerous nonsense".
Backstage he added: "Channel 4 is under threat too and the privatisation of Channel 4 would be a disaster, this is a bizarre moment given the television sector is the benchmark."
Rylance added to the Press Association that he would not have been able to give his Oscar-winning performance in Steven Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies if it had not been for Wolf Hall.
He said: "It feels like with the work I did on the film, I don't think I would have acted it so well if it was not for Wolf Hall. I had 17 weeks of Peter's guidance and attention and the actors I got to watch and play with day after day."
Craig Revel Horwood, a judge on best entertainment programme winner Strictly Come Dancing, added of the Government: "If they are in charge of anything entertainment-wise it would be a complete disaster, we don't want them in charge of any decisions, creatively."
The comedy and comedy entertainment programme category was won by Have I Got News For You.
One of the show's team captains, Ian Hislop, also praised the BBC and its independence.
He said: "I'm reiterating the theme, I'd like to thank the BBC, who have allowed us to be rude about the Government ... and indeed rude about the BBC itself, which is a privilege you are given with public service broadcasting and not on state television."
A senior BBC boss commented on the success of the corporation at the award ceremony, saying it was a "clear indication of a BBC in fine creative form".
The BBC's acting director Charlotte Moore said: "I'm so proud to see BBC Television recognised by Bafta in every genre and it's testament to the ambition and quality of the world-class programme makers and talent, both on and off screen, that I have the privilege to work with.
"I would like to thank them all, and challenge them to continue to make more ground-breaking television and to take even more risks into the future."
Sir Lenny Henry renewed his call to enshrine diversity in the BBC charter as he accepted the special recognition award for his career in television.
Name-checking shows including Some Mother Do 'Ave 'Em, Boys From The Black Stuff, The Great British Bake Off and Goodness Gracious Me, he said he believed British TV was "the best in the world".
He said: "If it feels like I'm banging on a bit about diversity all the time its because I believe in increasing it so we truly reflect our fantastic nation, ensuring that all those 14 years old out there, superglued to their phones who hope to work in TV, irrespective of their race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, can realise that ambition as I was able to realise mine."
Sir Lenny, who was given the Alan Clarke Award, added: "If we do this, we will make this fantastic industry even greater and I know everybody in this room agrees. So please let's keep working together to make this a reality, let's create a coalition of the willing and please let's put this in the charter."
After his win, Rylance told the Press Association he would not stand for creative freedoms being limited.
He said: "I wouldn't stay around, I would quit immediately, if I'm told how to do something.
"If I'm told what I'm doing is not serving the story in a true way then I listen but I wouldn't be controlled. These are stories, these are fantasies, it is not real life.
"This is where you experience things you can't experience in your life, they have to be wild and they have to be free. They have to be able to make mistakes.
"To think that they will actually start to have editorial control, they will come a cropper with that kind of action. That's very much the attraction of Wolf Hall, that we had a figure like Thomas Cromwell, a butcher's son, who could see the dominant religion Catholicism was trying to dominate our country in a way that isn't right and make decisions that we should be able to.
"Now I think it's more corporations and TTIP and a lot of these things going on and we are more and more suspicious that our Government is not listening to us but to wealthy commercial interests. So let them prove that is not true and defend the public institutions. We have lost the canals, we have lost the high street, we have lost the pubs, we are losing the villages, where is the common culture that is an important part of life here in England?
"They should think very carefully governing people and trying to get in our way of a good story and a true story."