Belfast Telegraph

Battle of the Baftas: It's our Jimmy versus Benedict Cumberbatch for television's biggest prize

By Amanda Ferguson

It was talked about as his finest performance so far.

And now James Nesbitt has landed a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) nomination for his emotional portrayal of a father in turmoil in BBC drama The Missing.

The Coleraine man has been shortlisted in the Leading Actor category of the prestigious television awards for his performance as Tony Hughes.

His character was at the heart of the tense thriller which explored the fallout from a child's abduction and aired on BBC One last year to critical acclaim.

The 50-year-old - last nominated for a Bafta in 2002 for his portrayal of SDLP politician and civil rights leader Ivan Cooper in Bloody Sunday - faces competition from Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock, Toby Jones for Marvellous and Jason Watkins for The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.

There was disappointment for Holywood actor Jamie Dornan, however, as he missed out on a mention for his acclaimed performance in the BBC Northern Ireland drama The Fall.

The Missing also received a Supporting Actor nomination for Ken Stott and one for Drama Series.

Belfast Telegraph TV critic Joseph Nawaz believes Nesbitt has done more than enough to claim them top industry gong.

"It is easy to forget round here that James Nesbitt is a proper actor, rather than a mere local celebrity who 'had his roots done'," Joseph said.

"He's got good pedigree and is always watchable.

"In The Missing he wasn't just watchable, he was the manic, dark heart of this twisty thriller. And it's hard now to imagine anybody else in that role.

"That's the mark of a great performance from a good actor. And as we know, BAFTAs have been awarded for much less..."

Belfast man Stephen Rea is also up for an award for Supporting Actor for BBC political spy thriller series The Honourable Woman.

He faces competition from Adeel Akhtar in Utopia, James Norton in Happy Valley and Ken Stott in The Missing. The nominations were announced yesterday at a press conference hosted by television stars Freddie Fox and Amanda Abbington.

This year's list sees an even spread of leaders, with Happy Valley, Marvellous, The Missing and Line Of Duty all sharing the 'most-nominated' top spot, with three nominations each.

Irish TV presenter Graham Norton, nominated in this year's Entertainment Programme category for The Graham Norton Show, will host the TV Bafta award ceremony in London on May 10.

Follow the award action on Twitter @BAFTA or for more information visit: http://www.bafta.org/television

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