The 2019 Primetime Emmys on Sunday felt more like the BAFTAs as half of the awards were handed to Brits or Brit-produced shows.
“This is getting ridiculous,” said Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was certainly the toast of Hollywood, picking up four awards for BBC/Amazon co-pro comedy Fleabag, while Killing Eve, which she created, also scored for Jodie Comer.
Waller-Bridge was talking about the number of awards that the Two Brothers Pictures-produced show won, but she could well have been talking about the entire British invasion.
Brits were involved in some 13 of the 27 awards including Fleabag, Chernobyl, the HBO/Sky co-production produced by Jane Featherstone’s Sister Pictures, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Succession, created by Shropshire-born Jesse Armstrong, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and A Very English Scandal.
Armstrong, the co-creator of Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, summed it up when he won outstanding writing for a drama series for Succession episode Nobody Is Ever Missing.
“Blimey. I’m quite overwhelmed, I didn’t expect that. There’s quite a lot of British winners, maybe too many. Maybe you should have a think about immigration restrictions on [shithole countries],” he said. Fox bleeped the final words of his joke, but it was still clear that he was making a self-deprecating joke about British success tonight.
Self-deprecation being a particularly British trait. Yesterday at the haul of pre-Emmy parties, including an AMC-hosted brunch, the BAFTA Tea Party, sponsored by BBC America and The Evening Before, majority of the nominated Brits and all had set low expectations and were not expecting to win.
It’s quite an increase from last year, which only saw six of the awards dominated by the other side of the pond.
Fleabag was a surprise for the outstanding comedy award, as well as Waller-Bridge’s acting win over Julia Louis Dreyfus in the outstanding lead comedy actress category. The show, which is distributed by All3Media International also won for Harry Bradbeer’s directing and outstanding writing for a comedy series. Not bad for a show, based on a one-woman Edinburgh Festival show, that was entirely snubbed for its first season.
Waller-Bridge creation Killing Eve scored Jodie Comer (right) an outstanding lead actress in a drama series win, another surprise, particularly given Sandra Oh’s inclusion, let alone Emilia Clarke (although the latter would have been another Brit). There was a question mark as to whether the Killing Eve pair would split the vote, but Comer won out.
The show’s country of origin is, however, not the simplest to categorise. It is essentially a show created by a Brit, produced by Brits, largely starring Brits but financed by a U.S. network in BBC America, albeit one that sounds suspiciously like it prefers a cup of breakfast tea than a pot of coffee. It was these facets that forced BAFTA to change its rules earlier this year to allow it to win in the UK, surely the only show to have cleaned up at the two events that are 5,000 miles away from each other.
Similarly, John Oliver’s talkshow is a U.S. beast, funded by HBO, although hosted by the aggressively British comedian and produced by London firm Avalon Television.
Chernobyl is too a true global production; filmed in Eastern Europe, written by an American (Craig Mazin) with a mix of Brit and American exec producers and paid for by both USA’s HBO and UK’s Sky, as is Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a mix of Brooker’s British anxiety and Netflix’s Silicon Valley tech-roots.
Finally, Ben Whishaw accepting the award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie could not have sounded more British as he was thanking his fellow cast, including Hugh Grant, director Stephen Frears or writer Russell T Davies for helping him win for his portrayal of Norman Scott, the disgruntled ex-lover of Liberal Parliament Member Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal, the BBC drama that was co-funded by Amazon.
A very English scandal indeed.