18 November 10
Laurence Rickard writes for and performs in the BAFTA nominated Children's TV show; 'Horrible Histories'. Follow his blog entries in the lead up to the EA British Academy Children's Awards and beyond.
The 2010 Comedy Award was won by Horrible Histories.
Utterly blown away.
...That probably best sums up my feelings after Sunday night's Children's BAFTA ceremony. Obviously we all had our hopes of a win, but I don't think any of the Horrible Histories contingent in attendance really expected the night to pan out quite as it did.
Following a few clinked glasses with our fellow nominees, the awards had barely begun when we came to the first of our categories, with Jim Howick holding the HH baton for best performer. As the nominee clips played out, the rest of the cast swapped supportive 'smile nods' with the man himself (a good one says 'you'll definitely get this... but if you don't, know that we love you') Thankfully, the proviso was not necessary. Jim won his hugely well deserved BAFTA and the rest of us got to whoop and holler at him like joyous idiots. At the risk of gushing (as I'm probably still a bit drunk), Jim is both a naturally gifted comic performer and quite the finest person you could wish to meet. As far as I was concerned we'd had our brilliant result for the evening and I could relax myself slowly into a glass of several wines. However, I am delighted to say, our good fortune didn't end there...
...getting to take home my very own BAFTA for working on a show that I love so much makes me feel like a kid who just got given a new bike for doing excellent chocolate eating.
With such strong nominees in the writing category, we could not have been more thrilled when HH was once again plucked from the envelope. Having never written for children's TV before, Horrible Histories was a show I first took on with more than a little reticence. However, it has gone on to be more fun and rewarding than I could ever have imagined. In fact, getting to take home my very own BAFTA for working on a show that I love so much makes me feel like a kid who just got given a new bike for doing excellent chocolate eating. Not my best simile, but, as I think I mentioned, I am still drunk.
So there we were. Two BAFTAs in hand, the spectre of last year's disappointment now a distant memory, and in the company of the best people imaginable. How could the evening get any better? Well, I suppose there's one way...
Now let me clear about this – this is not me being in any way magnanimous. In fact, without spellcheck, I couldn't even spell magnanimous. So I am entirely honest when I say that the shortlist for the new 'comedy' award made for daunting reading. There were no outsiders or runaway favourites – just four worthy winners in waiting. As such I was, to coin a phrase, 'bricking it'.
Whilst the show clearly has historical fact at its very heart, we have always strived to ensure that, above all else, it is funny.
When the envelope was opened, as video evidence will probably prove, I nearly fell off my chair. Truly amazing. Whilst the show clearly has historical fact at its very heart, we have always strived to ensure that, above all else, it is funny. To see that effort recognised, and by BAFTA no less, is a moment that none of us will be likely to forget.
The rabble who then took the stage, whilst clearly smart and handsome, are only a small percentage of the people who share that award. Of course our producer, Caroline Norris, was sure to thank the others, but missed out perhaps the most important name of all. So, to quickly correct her error, I think we'd all like to say a huge thank you to Caroline Norris, who captains our pirate ship so fantastically, and with a bare minimum of keel hauling.
I won't bore you with the demi-messy details of everything that followed, as I've waffled on quite long enough. Suffice to say we marked our fantastic evening with big smiles, a few raised glasses and the odd thrown shape.
Oh, one more quick thing. As a man who's age begins with a '3', I would have suffered a childhood 50% less smiley if it weren't for Brian Cant, who gave a speech as brilliantly charming and engaging as every second of television he has ever made.
So thank you Brian. And thank you BAFTA. We had an absolute ball.
...Now then, where did I put my glass?
Well, only four days now until the big night, when we will finally know the answer to the question that has been on our cast and crew's lips for weeks now... 'what colour tie will Larry be wearing?' (I'm giving nothing away). Of course, we will also know if we've won a British Academy Award, which I imagine has also crossed their minds.
BAFTAs are the ultimate accolade to anyone who works in British TV...
Whilst it is something of a cliché, it is undoubtably true to say that just to be nominated is a real honour. However, given the choice, I don't imagine there are many nominees, aside of the terminally stage shy, who could honestly say they would rather lose. BAFTAs are the ultimate accolade to anyone who works in British TV, and the good people here at HH Towers would, of course, dearly love to take home a one-eyed lady (the award that is – not an actual one-eyed lady).
Beyond the inevitable excitement over the awards themselves though, there is so much more to look forward to about Sunday night. Last year was my first experience of a Children's BAFTA ceremony, and, even though we were destined to go home empty handed, we had a fantastic evening. With children's TV so often regarded as the poor relation to 'proper telly', it was most refreshing to feel a very genuine sense of celebration for what is a truly invaluable genre – a sense of celebration that the HH contingent ensured was carried through onto the dancefloor. To my knowledge there is, thankfully, no photographic evidence of this.
...it was most refreshing to feel a very genuine sense of celebration for what is a truly invaluable genre...
Most exciting of all though is the fact that this year we are being joined at the awards by someone from each of the departments who come together to make Horrible Histories. Filming a 13 part sketch show, that covers several thousand years of global history, in just eight weeks, on a CBBC budget, is simply not possible. Yet somehow the make-up artists, costume department, set dressers and camera crew manage to do just that. There's a rumour it's witchcraft. Would explain a lot.
Either way, I can think of no finer folk to spend an evening with, whether it be simply celebrating the rich diversity of children's film and television, or, dare we hope... No – I won't even say it.
And if we don't get to go home with any one eyed ladies, well... I'm sure everyone will be distracted from any disappointment by my incredibly fetching blue tie. ...Damn it! That's the cat's out of the bag.
If there is a slightly manic quality to the vocals on any of the songs from series 3 of Horrible Histories, you can blame BAFTA. News of the 2010 nominations reached the cast and crew of HH midway through filming, just as we were preparing to record our final batch of songs for the series, thus lending proceedings more than a hint of euphoria (when you hear our Aztec song, you'll know what I mean).
Whilst Horrible Histories had been nominated in 2009 (for factual series and writing), the 2010 nominations meant even more to us, for a number of reasons. For one thing, we all felt that our second series was even stronger than the first. Comedy and fact aren't the most natural bedfellows, so putting together a historically accurate sketch show had been a steep learning curve. Series one had taught us so much about how best to achieve this mix – lessons which we were able to apply from day one on our second series. Plus, of course, we were utterly blown away by the number of nominations this time around – three for the show itself, one for the production company and a place on the shortlist for the kids vote. Proper chuffed, we was.
Comedy and fact aren't the most natural bedfellows...Series one had taught us so much about how best to achieve this mix...
And then there were the categories. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to see a second nomination for writing – as were the rest of our (handsome, hardworking and professional) writing team. Fantastic also to see Jim Howick's nod for best performer. From day one the cast has brought soooo much to Horrible Histories, helping to create a truly 'house style' for the show and adding another laugh at every turn. And no-one has added more than our very own 'Shouty Man'.
Best of all though was our nomination in the new 'Comedy' category. For one thing it is a nomination for the show as a whole – a nod to the effort of every single department, all of whom work stupidly hard to deliver a huge number of sketches on a very tight budget. Also, for a show that prides itself on both its factual content and its comedy, it is so rewarding to see a nomination for the more subjective of the two. You can always check a fact, whereas humour is all about tone, instinct and nuance – the stuff that's easy to get wrong. So to receive a nod in the comedy category, amongst such esteemed company, and from BAFTA no less... well, I'm a bit lost words. Which, as a writer, is actually rather worrying. Hmmm.
Suffice to say, win or lose on the night, we're absolutely made up!