Backstage @ The Baftas: Life On Mars

THERE’S no other word for it, I’m afraid.
Life On Mars was, as feared, snubbed by the judges at the Bafta TV Awards in London last night.
But the viewing public sent the Academy a clear message – you got it wrong.
John Simm broke into a huge smile when the hit Manchester show took the Pioneer Audience Award.
Helped in part by devoted fans at The Railway Arms, it was a fully deserved win for Life On Mars.
The prize is the only category voted for by the public and not the judges, but also the only accolade which does not result in the award of a coveted Bafta mask.
It was clear in the press room at the London Palladium just how popular Life On Mars is, as it was in the auditorium.
So there was disappointment when Simm lost out in the Actor category to Longford’s Jim Broadbent.
And even greater surprise as The Street got the nod for the Drama Series gong, ahead of the men from Mars.
You can’t say that both awards were not deserved by their respective recipients.
But they were all too predictable “Bafta choices” and, in my opinion, the wrong ones.

It was wonderful to see the Life On Mars cast getting their moment of glory on stage.
The line up included Simm, Phil Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster and writers Matthew Graham, Ashley Pharoah and Tony Jordan.
Aside from the Audience Award win, Simm looked uncomfortable and unhappy throughout.
As a serious actor who avoids the celebrity circuit, I suspect high profile TV awards are his idea of hell.
He also could have been forgiven if he felt a burning sense of injustice.

There is still hope that Bafta will do the right thing.
Last night’s awards were for programmes screened in 2006, meaning that the second series of Life On Mars will be eligible for nomination next year.
And both John Simm and Philip Glenister must surely be in the running for individual nominations.
Phil was smiling as he came into the press room – otherwise known as the Palladium Stalls Bar – at the end of the evening to talk about the Audience Award win.
In his left hand he was still clutching the gold envelope he’d opened on stage to announce Victoria Wood as Best Actress.
In his right hand was a champagne glass, filled with what looked suspiciously like water.
Switching into character as Manchester’s DCI Gene Hunt, he said: “Well, obviously, I am thrilled. I’m going to go home and have a plate of hoops…with champagne.”
Back as himself, he added: “Everything starts with the writing. It’s a fantastically diverse piece. It’s got a bit of everything – and a marvellous bunch of actors.”
Moving on to Life On Mars spin-off Ashes To Ashes, he said: “I remember the Eighties a bit better. Well, actually no I don’t, for various reasons.
“I’ll have to swot up on that period, I should think. I was probably in the pub most of the time, learning to drink.
“We’re specifically setting it in 1981, so there’s some pretty cracking storylines to be had, just in terms of the social upheaval of the country with two years of Thatcher.
“So I think Gene might find himself having a bit of a crush on Mrs Thatcher at some stage, who knows? That’s purely the character, not me!
“I’m going for the Phil Collins look, probably, in a ‘Hello, I Must Be Going’ period, with the old trainers or plimsoles on and a suit.
“We also thought about Martin Fry from ABC and the silver suits. We’ll see.
“I think I should keep the camel coat, personally. I think it should never go away.”
Glenister also spoke a little more about Tuesday, the new British feature film he’s currently making, which co-stars Simm.
“It’s very low budget: ‘Bring your own clothes, make your own way there.’
“It’s a heist movie and it’s being written and directed by a really talented guy called Sacha Bennett, who is a mate of John and I’s.
“And we’ve agreed to do it because we feel it’s important to support him, more than anything.
“He’s a clever guy and it’s going to be a rather good little piece.
“We’re robbers. We’re on the other side of the law.
“I’m playing a character called Earp, which is quite interesting because I kind of feel that Gene Hunt is a bit of a Wyatt Earp in his small town of Manchester.
“And John plays a character called Silver, who is the getaway driver. Obviously Silver being the getaway horse.
“But we have got a car in this, because he’s a rubbish rider is Simm.”
You can read my full MEN report on last night’s awards, along with a photo gallery, here.
Life On Bafta
Life On Mars: The Blog.
Hello, I Must Be Going
Wyatt Earp
The Railway Arms