TV blog: National Television Awards

Benjie Goodhart / 18 January 2018

The UK votes for its favourite TV shows in the National Television Awards, plus a documentary about a brave teen and the best of the rest of the week on TV.

Extraordinary People: Britain’s Tiniest Teen, Monday 22nd January, 10pm, Channel 5

This documentary is a salutary reminder of how cushy most of us have it. Georgia Rankin is about to turn 18. In many ways, she’s a teenager like any other: She loves clothes, shopping, make up, and having her nails done. But Georgia is also 2ft 7ins, the size of an average two-year-old. She is confined to a wheelchair, and lives a life of almost constant pain thanks to her condition, the exact nature of which remains frustratingly undiagnosed.

You’d have to have a heart of the very hardest stone not to feel sympathy for a young person undergoing such trials. But when you factor in that Georgia is a delightful, brave, determined and ambitious girl, completely devoid of self-pity, the heart strings become tauter than a sprinter’s hamstring. Watching someone so young and full of life look down the lens of a camera and say “My life is pain” is a sobering experience.

But Georgia soldiers on. This hour-long film follows her as she goes about her everyday life in Warrington. That might be going to her course (she’s studying make up) or meeting up with best friend Becca to go shopping. But the shopping isn’t much fun when you have to do it in the toddler’s section, and everything is pink and fluffy and makes you look like a princess.

But Georgia is also off to Denver, Colorado – to the Little People of America Convention. She’s hoping to meet people of her own age, but also to get some specialist advice on her condition. And that’s not all. Turns out the shopping at the Convention is brilliant, too, with everything tailor-made for those of smaller stature.

Back home, and the cameras follow Georgia to her first festival – Reading – with Becca. Georgia’s not keen on camping, so she and Becca are booked into a four-star hotel, complete with champagne. So you can add ‘sensible’ to her list of qualities. It is, as it happens, a list of impressive size.

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The National Television Awards 2018, Tuesday 23rd January, 7:30pm, ITV

In some ways, the National Television Awards are the most important TV awards we have. You can keep all your Baftas and RTS Awards and Broadcast Awards, the NTAs are actually voted for by the Great British (and Northern Irish) public. This means that the most popular shows win. In some respects, this should be the ultimate accolade. What could be more important than making a programme that really strikes a nerve with audiences, captures the collective imagination, taps into the zeitgeist. 

In other ways, of course, it might just mean that what you’ve made is populist tosh. I mean, it’s all very well, winning popularity contests, but… but… well… Mrs Brown’s Boys. The comedy is reviled by almost every critic with a keyboard and a telly, but year after year it gets squillions of viewers all howling with mirth. Why should the public be trusted with anything?

Anyway, whether you think the NTAs are the ultimate reflection of our pooled intelligence and taste, or a clear manifestation of how moronic we are as a viewing nation, this is an awards ceremony, and they’re normally jolly good fun. This one is presented by all-round nice guy Dermot O’Leary, from the O2. Expect the usual round of risqué dresses, controversial speeches, and someone bursting into tears and making an absolute numpty of themselves.

Some of the awards, mind you, are a little odd. As well as an award for best Drama, there is a separate award for Best Crime Drama. Why stop there? What about Best Costume Drama? Best Drama with a Car In It? Best Drama Featuring Someone with a Moustache Dancing Badly to an Old Everly Brothers Track in a Town Hall Near Rotherham?

There’s a TV Judge Award, being contested by Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Paul Hollywood and But why? Why is there a best judge award, and not a best TV chef award, or a best sports presenter award? What’s so special about TV judges? All they do is pause for a really long time, before saying stuff like “I don’t like it… I LOVE IT!!!”

There is an award for Best Newcomer, which is a bit strange, because all four nominees are newcomers to Soaps. And in the category of Best Comedy, one of the nominations is The Big Bang Theory, on E4. The odd thing here is that it’s American. Being American doesn’t intrinsically make something odd, but what is peculiar is the fact that it is the only American programme in the whole ceremony. So are the awards open to American programmes or not? And if they are, are we really saying that not one single other programme made in the Entertainment Capital of the World was worthy of nomination?

In short, then, the NTAs are a slightly offbeat, rather weird, and somewhat lowbrow event. But you’ll get to see clips from some of the year’s biggest shows, and you will almost certainly get to see Ant and Dec win their 17th-straight NTA as best presenters. And nobody should ever begrudge you a bit of Ant and Dec.

The best… and the rest

Sunday 21st January

Posh Pawn, 7pm, Channel 4: New series of the show that goes behind the scenes of high end pawn.

Call the Midwife 1/8, 8pm, BBC One: Blizzards and power cuts continue to plague Poplar (following on from the chilly Christmas special). A new midwife joins the team, and promptly takes to her bed, ill. But she can’t afford to rest for long…

Wednesday 24th January

Stealing Van Gogh, 9pm, BBC Two: Deemed the greatest art heist of the 21st Century (mind you, it’s only 2018) in December 2002, two men managed to steal two priceless works of art from Van Gogh’s museum in Amsterdam. This one-off film looks at the crime itself, and asks what might have happened to the pictures.

Friday 26th January

Match of the Day Live: The FA Cup, BBC One, 7:30pm: West country minnows Yeovil welcome Manchester United, and international diplomat supreme Jose Mourinho, to Huish Park. 

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