2012 BAFTA Children’s Awards

by Bernie Byrnes

“It’s impossible to meet Jedward and not fall a little bit in love with them.”

So said a super-trendy reporter as he passed me in the press enclosure at last night’s British Academy Children’s Awards 2012. I laughed, surely he was joking, mad, or being sarcastic! Really? Jedward? That was, of course, until I met them. They are charming, media-savvy and disarmingly good-looking up close. Within minutes (and therefore after a pretty lengthy conversation – boy do they talk FAST), I was alarmed to discover my behatted chum was right. They were there to present the award for Independent Production Company but were positively bubbling over with their plans for the new single (and their hair). It was hard to make out much of what they said despite their claim:

“We’ve learned not to talk over each other”.

They still speak at mega-speed, taking it in turns to tell you half of two different conversations. The experience is not unlike being confronted by a friendly, clean-smelling hydra. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say they are utterly pointless but what I didn’t bargain for was how strangely compelling they are too.

For more than 50 years, Britain has made arguably some of the best children’s programmes in the world (along with some duff ones). Who can fail to feel happy just thinking about Bagpuss, re-shown in the nineties on Sunday mornings to a nation of students coming down from the night before. Is children’s television in crisis? Probably, but it was hard to remember that as the crowds squealed, limousines glided and celebrities wafted up the red carpet. The magnificent surroundings didn’t surprise me, the glamour didn’t surprise me, elbows in the ribs from all the jostling didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was how genuinely excited people seemed to be about the industry they work in and how humble they were about the part they had to play. Khalil Madovi (‘The 4 O’clock Club’) put it nicely:

“First of all it’s a huge honour to be in the same place as so many great people, so many talented people and it means – it’s a great honour and I’m excited to see how the evening goes.”

The word ‘honour’ was bandied about a fair bit and I began to suspect the same PR firm were behind the line-up: Jim Howick (‘Horrible Histories’) said it, Tasie Lawrence (‘House of Anubis’) said it, even Andy Akinwolere (Blue Peter) said it – I could go on – several of them said it more than once but the surprising thing was they all seemed to actually mean it.

There was a contagious buzz around backstage and it seemed to me that people who make entertainment for kids are just that little bit nicer than other folk. Sure it’s his or her job to be charming to the press but everyone really did seem a little bit more joyful than I expected. Even Thomas Sangster (voice for ‘Phineus and Ferb’) managed to stop on his way to present the award for Pre-School Animation to inform me:

“My name is Thomas Brody Sangster …umm yeah…”.

His enthusiasm was totally overshadowed though by Tyger Drew-Honey (there to present the award for Young Game Designer) who told anyone who would listen that he was ‘really looking forward to the food’.

John Landis (O.M.G – yes I met the director of Michael Jackson’s Thriller) was almost as confused as I was by the seemingly endless string of young lovelies until the night took a more familiar turn. The boys from McFly I recognised from two years ago when I woke up in a tent with them at the Isle of White Festival – not quite as glamorous as it sounds, I was asleep in the corner of a marquee where they started playing to a large crowd, one of whom stepped on me (one of the crowd, not one of the band). Dick and Dom (delighted to be nominees again, this year for ‘Diddy Dick and Dom’), Hacker the Dog (CBBC) and Justin Fletcher are all old friends from my days at CBeebies. My biggest scoop though was bumping into Quinn Patrick and Becky Kitter (Ma and Pa Ha Ha from the Ha Ha Hairies, nominated for Pre-School Live Action) who promised me an exclusive interview with them next week.

Everyone was just so damn friendly! Eddie Izzard (presenting the award for Channel of the Year) found time to pose with a small child as he was rushed through. Peter Serafinowicz stopped to chat to me even though wasn’t an official guest. He was there supporting his wife Sarah Alexander who was presenting the award for Comedy. He also let slip that he has a new show coming out on CBBC called Fit, a new sketch show about health, exercise and fitness due to be aired in January.

Kemi Majeks (Milkshake) and Helen Skelton (Blue Peter / Countryfile / Helen’s Polar Challenge) were both up for the Presenter award and I was surprised by how candid they were about their disappointment at not winning. They stayed pretty upbeat about the whole thing though, Helen was particularly delighted that she got to change somewhere warm.

“Tonight is a rare opportunity to get glammed up, put a dress on and for once I got changed not in the back of a taxi or in a public loo.”

So what made the night so special? I think Barney Harwood (Blue Peter presenter and one of our hosts for the night) summed it up best.

“It’s the one event during the year when everybody from every part of children’s TV gets together and celebrates what they’ve achieved over that past year. You’ve got people from animation, from the website, from TV, film, from games and they’re all in one place.”

Alona Villani (Strictly Come Dancing), there to present the Learning – Primary award told me:

“I think this an amazing place to be tonight because it’s honouring our future talent. This is what it’s all about.”

She’s right I think, although I couldn’t help wondering as one beautifully groomed newcomer after another gushed about how excited / proud / honoured they were just to be a part of it, how many tears and tantrums there must have been to get them through the corridor and onto the World Stage. Ground breaking journalism it was not, but a lovely, glitzy, fuzzy-warm evening it certainly was.

A full list of winners for the 2012 BAFTA Children’s Awards is available here.

3 Responses to “2012 BAFTA Children’s Awards”

  1. Ally says:

    What lovely comments about John and Edward. I love them and agree they are charming. I’m also pleased that you recognised how gorgeous looking they are, surprisingly not everyone can see it! ?

  2. Dominika the Vegan says:

    hahhaha, omJ, I’m at the back on this pic taking a pic of them, hahahaha.

  3. Lisa Hafey says:

    After having first seen them properly on Eurovision last year, and then for whatever reason feeling compelled to watch them on Celebrity Big Brother, I was awestruck by John and Edward – there was something about them I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I met them and realised they were normal young men. Sort of 😀

    I think they have charm in bucketloads, and they’re generally just lovely, caring, goodnatured guys. They’re great value and I love them loads – they’ve added a fun and vitality to my life that I didn’t realise was missing.

    As an aside, I’m loving that Peter Serafinowicz was also starstruck by them 😀

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