Ben Whishaw named best actor at BAFTA TV awards

LONDON (Reuters) - Ben Whishaw was named best actor at Britain’s top TV awards on Sunday, cementing his status as one of the UK’s new leading men after starring in the James Bond movie “Skyfall”, while a satire lampooning London Olymmpic organisers won two awards.

Actor Ben Whishaw arrives for the royal world premiere of the new 007 film "Skyfall" at the Royal Albert Hall in London October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Whishaw, 32, who is currently performing with Judi Dench in London’s West End theatre district, won the award for playing Richard II in a TV film based on William Shakespeare’s play that was commissioned by Britain’s public broacaster, the BBC.

“I’m really, really surprised. I was just hoping it would be one of the others just so I wouldn’t have to come up here and say anything,” Whishaw, the gadget guy Q in “Skyfall”, told a star-studded ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

The award for best actress at the British Academy Television Awards went to Sheridan Smith for playing the wife of the great train robber Ronnie Biggs in ITV’s “Mrs Biggs”.

She beat the bookmaker’s favourite Sienna Miller, nominated for playing the American actress Tippi Hedren with whom Alfred Hitchcock was said to be obsessed, in the drama “The Girl” co-produced by the BBC and Time Warner’s HBO.

The biggest winner of the night was the BBC comedy programme “Twenty Twelve” about organisers of the 2012 Olympics, which won best situation comedy and nabbed the award for best female in a comedy programme for actress Olivia Colman.

Colman also won best supporting actress for “Accused”.

Another Olympic show, “The London 2012 Paralympic Games” on Channel 4, won the prize for best sport and live event.

The prize for best single drama went to “Murder” by Danish director Birger Larsen who also made the hit Nordic TV thriller “The Killing”, while the best drama went to “Last Tango in Halifax” about teenage sweethearts reunited 60 years on.

HBO show “Girls”, a comedy-drama about a group of 20-somethings in New York, won the international award, beating the Danish crime drama “The Bridge”, the post 9/11 psychological drama “Homeland”, and fantasy epic “Game of Thrones”.

But “Game of Thrones” was the public’s favourite, winning the Radio Times Audience Award voted for by the public.

Film and TV star Michael Palin, who made his name as a founder of comedy group Monty Python, was presented with an Academy Fellowship while the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) also used the occasion to pay tribute to the BBC series “Dr. Who”, which turns 50 this year.

Following is a list of the major BAFTA TV awards, sponsored by Arqiva:

- Leading Actor: Ben Whishaw

- Leading Actress: Sheridan Smith

- Supporting Actor: Simon Russell Beale

- Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman

- Drama Series: Last Tango in Halifax

- International: Girls

- Current Affairs: The Shame of the Catholic Church

- Sport & Live Event: The London 2012 Paralympic Games

- Situation Comedy: Twenty Twelve

- Radio Times Audience Award (voted by the public): Game of Thrones

Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Andrew Roche