Bafta TV awards: Michaela Coel's 'I May Destroy You' scores string of wins

The British director also won best leading actress and drama writer

Michaela Coel poses for photographers with his Leading Actress award for her role in 'I May Destroy You' backstage at the British Academy Television Awards in London, Sunday, June 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
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British TV series I May Destroy You and its director Michaela Coel won a slew of awards at the annual Bafta TV Awards on Sunday for its depiction of a young black writer piecing her life back together after suffering a sexual assault.

The 12-episode series broadcast last summer on the BBC and HBO tells the story of Arabella, whose sexual assault occurs while she is celebrating at a London bar with friends.

 Michaela Coel in 'I May Destroy You'. Courtesy HBO 

On Sunday it was garlanded with the best mini-series and editing awards, with Coel herself taking best leading actress, director and drama writer.

Coel paid particular tribute to Ita O'Brien, the show's "intimacy director".

She said O'Brien was crucial to "making the space safe for creating physical, emotional, and professional boundaries so that we can make work about exploitation, loss of respect, about abuse of power, without being exploited or abused in the process".

The intimacy director role is "essential for every production company that wants to make work exploring themes of consent", Coel said.

Held partly online with a scattering of live audience, the ceremony left acclaimed Netflix series The Crown empty-handed.

The fictionalised account of the modern British royal family, which swept the board at the Golden Globes earlier this year, had been nominated for four categories, including Helena Bonham Carter for best supporting actress as Princess Margaret.

Other big winners on the night included Irish actor Paul Mescal, who took home the best leading actor award for his role in popular BBC drama Normal People.

See the full list of winners from the Bafta TV Awards 2021:

Comedy Entertainment Programme

Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe

Rob & Romesh Vs

The Big Narstie Show – WINNER

The Ranganation

Current Affairs

America’s War On Abortion (Exposure) – WINNER

Italy's Frontline: A Doctor's Diary (BBC)

The Battle for Hong Kong (Dispatches)

The Cyprus Papers Undercover (Al Jazeera Investigations)


Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On

Richard Osman’s House of Games

The Chase

The Great House Giveaway – WINNER

Drama Series

Gangs of London

I Hate Suzie

Save Me Too – WINNER

The Crown

Entertainment Performance

Adam Hills

Bradley Walsh

Claudia Winkleman

David Mitchell

Graham Norton

Romesh Ranganathan – WINNER

Entertainment Programme

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway

Life & Rhymes – WINNER

Strictly Come Dancing

The Masked Singer

Factual Series

Crime & Punishment


Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency

Once Upon a Time in Iraq – WINNER


Big Zuu’s Big Eats

Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace – WINNER

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing

The Repair Shop

Female Performance in a Comedy Programme

Aimee Lou Wood – Sex Education – WINNER

Daisy Haggard – Breeders

Daisy May Cooper – This Country

Emma Mackey – Sex Education

Gbemisola Ikumelo – Famalam

Mae Martin – Feel Good


Little America

Lovecraft Country


Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge (Storyville) – WINNER

Leading Actor

John Boyega – Small Axe

Josh O'Connor – The Crown

Paapa Essiedu – I May Destroy You

Paul Mescal – Normal People – WINNER

Shaun Parkes – Small Axe

Waleed Zuaiter – Baghdad Central

Leading Actress

Billie Piper – I Hate Suzie

Daisy Edgar-Jones – Normal People

Hayley Squires – Adult Material

Jodie Comer – Killing Eve

Letitia Wright – Small Axe

Michaela Coel – I May Destroy You – WINNER

Live Event

Life Drawing Live!

Springwatch 2020 – WINNER

The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance

The Third Day: Autumn

Male Performance in a Comedy Programme

Charlie Cooper – This Country – WINNER

Guz Khan – Man Like Mobeen

Joseph Gilgun – Brassic

Ncuti Gatwa – Sex Education

Paul Ritter – Friday Night Dinner

Reece Shearsmith – Inside No.9


Adult Material

I May Destroy You – WINNER

Normal People

Small Axe

News Coverage

BBC News at Ten: Prime Minister Admitted to Intensive Care

Channel 4 News: Deterring Democracy

Newsnight: Covid Care Crisis

Sky News: Inside Idlib – WINNER

Reality & Constructed Factual

MasterChef: The Professionals

Race Across the World

The School That Tried to End Racism – WINNER

The Write Offs

Scripted Comedy


Inside No. 9 – WINNER

Man Like Mobeen

This Country

Short Form Programme


Disabled Not Defeated: The Rock Band with Learning Disabilities

The Main Part

They Saw the Sun First – WINNER

Single Documentary

American Murder: The Family Next Door

Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism & Me

Locked In: Breaking The Silence (Storyville– WINNER

Surviving Covid

Single Drama


BBW (On The Edge)

Sitting in Limbo – WINNER

The Windermere Children

Soap & Continuing Drama

Casualty – WINNER

Coronation Street



Specialist Factual

Extinction: The Facts

Putin: A Russian Spy Story

The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty

The Surgeon’s Cut – WINNER


Bahrain Grand Prix

England V France: The Final of Autumn Nations Cup

England V West Indies Test Cricket – WINNER

London Marathon 2020

Supporting Actor

Kunal Nayyar – Criminal: UK

Malachi Kirby – Small Axe – WINNER

Michael Sheen – Quiz

Micheal Ward – Small Axe

Rupert Everett – Adult Material

Tobias Menzies –The Crown

Supporting Actress

Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown

Leila Farzad – I Hate Suzie

Rakie Ayola – Anthony – WINNER

Siena Kelly – Adult Material

Sophie Okonedo – Criminal: UK

Weruche Opia – I May Destroy You