The first category in our new awards is for Most Interesting TV Character.
Actors and actresses (and, to a lesser extent, the writers, directors, make-up artists, etc.) get recognition for their individual work, but it’s a testament to how well the creative team works as a whole when you get a portrayal that really jumps out of the screen at you.
Our shortlist for the award is:
DCI Gene Hunt, Life on Mars (played by Philip Glenister)
What could have been a stereotypical, Sweeney-esque policeman became so much more. An instinctive copper who plays from a very different rulebook than John Simm’s 21st Century detective, there’s an element of the Western sherrif in Gene Hunt. He may not always play fair, but there’s no doubt that he’s on the right side.
DCI Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect - the Final Act (Helen Mirren)
What more is there left to say? This year’s return of Jane Tennison — the last we’ll see of her — gave us a woman on the verge of losing it all. Her alcoholic blackouts, her struggles to deal with her dying father and the issues with her estranged sister, the threat of her impeding retirement: quite how she managed to solve a murder case at the same time is a marvel. She’ll be much missed.
Ruth Evershed, Spooks (Nicola Walker)
How quickly we forget, but Ruth joined the Grid in Series 2 as a double agent, spying on the spies. Not that she was very good at it — her moral compass was always very firmly aligned, and in the shady world of espionage that made her shine like a beacon. This year, her flirtatious relationship with her boss kept us on the edge of our seats just as much as did the action and intrigue of the main plotlines. With the character now officially dead, but last seen scurrying away on a garbage scow down the Thames, Spooks is all the lesser for her departure.
Marian, Robin Hood (Lucy Griffiths)
While Keith Allen is delivering a panto performance as the Sheriff, Richard Armitage is smouldering away in the corner, and Jonas Armstrong — well, the less said about him, the better — it’s Marian that is holding the BBC’s new version of Robin Hood together. With a nifty sideline as masked avenger the Night Watchman, and a complicated relationship with Guy of Gisborne, the storytelling comes alive when she’s on screen and away from the forest antics of the outlaws.
Alison Mundy, Afterlife (Lesley Sharp)
Derek Acorah she ain’t, thank goodness. A tortured, complex soul who sees dead people but wishes she didn’t, in Afterlife’s second (and final?) season, Alison also had to deal with family issues and the illness of her friend, Robert. Lesley Sharp’s portrayal of a woman whose grip on reality could occasionally be described as tenuous was amazing.
Stan McDermott, The Street (Jim Broadbent)
In a series where characters only had one episode in which to shine, despite popping up through the rest of the series, Jim Broadbent’s Stan stood out, as a man unable to come to terms with being made redundant just prior to retirement, and then finding his pension virtually worthless. A measured study in quiet desperation of the sort Broadbent can do like no other.
Jackie Tyler, Doctor Who (Camille Coduri)
When she first appeared as Rose’s mother, fans were in despair. “It’s EastEnders in space!” they cried. But they were wrong: Jackie was funny and entertaining, warm and maternal, flirtatious and still grieving her dead husband. Over the last two years, her character has fleshed out so much that, when Rose was left stranded with her entire family in an alternate universe at the end of the last series, we were not just mourning the departure of Billie Piper, but her whole family — and especially her mother. If the real EastEnders were to hire her, they’d be cannier than they have been in recent years.
Jack, Sorted (Mark Womack)
As the new recruit to the sorting office, it was no surprise that Jack was isolated from the other postmen in Danny Brocklehurst’s new weekday drama for BBC1. But there was an element of mystery about him, an element that he perpetuated by rebuffing any attempt to befriend him. Finally letting canteen worker Nancy (Nina Sosanya) close, the layers started unravelling and a warm-hearted, funny guy gradually started to emerge.
Sir Mark Brydon, The State Within (Jason Isaacs)
While it may have been too tensely plotted for some, too preposterous for others, it was Jason Isaacs’ British ambassador that drove the series forward, and kind of made us wish that our real diplomats and politicans were of the same calibre.
Pierre Clément, Spiral (Grégory Fitoussi)
BBC4’s CSI-style Parisian thriller was led by an upright prosecutor, struggling with an ex-wife, a growing attraction to the attractive female detective he was working with, and the fact that his best friend was potentially implicated in the same case. It’s hard for many actors to have a great presence when the audience are having to read his lines in subtitle form — but Clément’s presence on screen always demanded that you took your eyes away from the dialogue.
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