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Why do Bafta judges keep ignoring James Nesbitt?

Following his disappointment again this week, Ivan Little wonders why Jimmy Nesbitt was 'Missing' from awards

Published 12/05/2015

James Nesbitt in The Missing
James Nesbitt in The Missing
James Nesbitt at the Baftas on Sunday
Jason Watkins

It mightn't exactly have been an Ed Miliband moment but as the reality sank in that Coleraine's Jimmy Nesbitt had lost the election for the Baftas at the weekend it was tempting to think the acting awards might have been called the Daftas.

For more than one of the gongs went to unexpected recipients, though happily among the notable exceptions was the deserved kudo for Belfast's Stephen Rea who was voted the best supporting actor for his role in The Honourable Woman, a story of political intrigue in the Middle East.

But the real mystery in the north east of Northern Ireland was how on earth Nesbitt didn't make it an Ulster double with the best leading actor award for The Missing TV mini-series, in which he stunned audiences with his heart-rending portrayal of a father whose son was abducted on a family holiday in France.

Critics were universally impressed by Nesbitt's performance as the desperate, distraught dad who crumbled and eventually fell apart as his hopes of finding his son alive were eroded with every twist in the hugely popular drama.

Reviewers hailed his haunting and harrowing portrayal as the best of an already impressive career, which has ranged from the frothy Cold Feet comedy drama to Bloody Sunday, where he masterfully depicted civil rights campaigner Ivan Cooper.

As well as starring in massive and lucrative global blockbusters like The Hobbit, Jimmy took a less well-paid but hugely acclaimed role in Five Minutes of Heaven, a movie about a UVF murder which also starred Liam Neeson who has also been nominated for many more acting awards than he's won. At the Baftas on Sunday night, it had been assumed that if Nesbitt didn't scoop the best actor prize it would go to another nominee, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.

But his unenviable Bafta jinx continued and he stayed away from the bash, ensuring that the cameras lingered on Nesbitt when the winner Jason Watkins was announced. Watkins was the star of the ITV drama, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, playing the part of the man falsely accused of involvement in the murder of his tenant Joanna Yeates in December 2010

The victor praised Nesbitt in his speech and said he hoped they would remain friends.

Typical Nesbitt though - after putting a brave face on any disappointment he might have been feeling, he brought laughter to the Baftas by shaking his head and mouthing the word 'no'

And if acting in docu-dramas did the trick for Jason Watkins, it's possible that Jimmy Nesbitt could find his door to a Bafta award reopened by forthcoming roles in two TV mini-series which will feature the stories of local men - one a killer and the other a killer catcher.

Nesbitt is also due to play the part of Ballymoney dentist Colin Howell, who murdered his wife and his lover's husband Trevor Buchanan in May 1991.

He's also been cast as another Jimmy Nesbitt, the RUC detective who helped put the Shankill Butchers behind bars during the Troubles.

If Nesbitt had composed an acceptance address, it was kept tucked in his tuxedo.

Chances are, it will get an airing before too long.

Belfast Telegraph

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