| 15.9°C Belfast

Baftas 2015: Prize a thriller for The Honourable Woman's Stephen Rea - but James Nesbitt misses out on leading actor award

A political thriller has led to an honour for an Oscar-nominated star from Belfast after he picked up a Bafta for his role as a cunning secret agent.

The Honourable Woman star Stephen Rea was the first actor to pick up a coveted gong at last night's glittering ceremony at the Theatre Royal in London's Drury Lane - and the only one from Northern Ireland to win.

Rea appeared as Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle, a shaggy MI5 operative on his last Middle East assignment, in the tense BBC Two drama opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal. However, Co Antrim actor James Nesbitt missed out on one of the top awards, for leading actor. Although highly praised for The Missing, the nod went instead to Jason Watkins for his portrayal of a man falsely accused of murder in ITV's drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.

Watkins said after receiving his award: "It's very satisfying to be nominated, and to win - I just can't believe it."

It was worse for fellow nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, who has been put forward three times for the same award for his portrayal of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, but has never won.

There was some consolation when Sherlock won the Radio Times Audience Award, voted for by the public. It beat Northern Ireland-filmed HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones.

There was surprise when Georgina Campbell was given the Leading Actress award for her portrayal of a domestic-violence victim in BBC3's Murdered by My Boyfriend. Sheridan Smith had been widely tipped to win. Jessica Hynes, who won Female Performance in a Comedy Programme for playing Siobhan Sharpe in the parody of the BBC, W1A, spoke out against cuts to education and the arts.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

To rapturous applause, she said: "I'm from a single-parent family. I'm really worried about the cuts that are coming in state education and to people in low-income families. Because I don't feel low income means low talent, low imagination or low intelligence."

Clive James, the author, critic and broadcaster, was honoured by Bafta for his "immense contribution" to television over five decades. Australian-born James, who was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia in 2010, has received a Bafta Special Award in recognition of his "outstanding creative contribution" to the media.

Amanda Berry, the chief executive of Bafta, said: "Clive James is an incredible talent, and a great influence on many working in television today, a warm, witty and knowledgeable presenter whose programmes left a vivid impression on so many viewers, myself included. I'm delighted to recognise his immense contribution to television."

Top Videos