Steve McQueen’s series has 15 nominations, with The Crown and I May Destroy You also in the running.
Sir Steve McQueen’s Small Axes series leads the field at this year’s Bafta Television Awards, with 15 nominations.
The director’s landmark five-film BBC One series tells stories about the lives of the West Indian community in London from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Netflix’s regal drama The Crown is also one of the leading shows, with 10 nods.
I May Destroy, about a woman coming to terms with a sexual assault, is listed eight times, including best actress, writer and director for Michaela Coel.
“I am overwhelmed with joy to see so many people and teams that made I May Destroy You nominated this year,” Coel said in a statement.
“I am equally thrilled to see Small Axe, one of my favourite shows of last year, deservedly honoured, let the celebrations begin!”
- Small Axe – 15 nominations
- The Crown – 10
- I May Destroy You – 8
- Normal People – 7
- Sex Education – 6
- Full nominations on the Bafta website
There are five nominations apiece for Channel 4’s Adult Material, a drama set in the porn industry, and Sky Atlantic’s I Hate Suzie, whose star Billie Piper is up for best actress.
BBC Three comedy This Country is recognised four times, as are Strictly Come Dancing and the acclaimed documentary series Once Upon a Time in Iraq.
In the individual categories, John Boyega’s performance as real-life police officer Leroy Logan in one of the Small Axe films – Red, White and Blue – sees him up for best actor alongside Shaun Parkes, who was in the Mangrove instalment of Small Axe.
Josh O’Connor, who plays the young Prince Charles in The Crown, makes the same list, alongside Paapa Essiedu from I May Destroy You, Waleed Zuaiter from Baghdad Central and Normal People’s Paul Mescal.
Mescal’s co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones is nominated for best actress, next to Piper, Coel and another Small Axe star, Letitia Wright. Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Adult Material’s Hayley Squires also make the same shortlist.
Notably, The Crown’s Emma Corrin and Gillian Anderson, who won Golden Globe awards in February for playing Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher respectively, have been overlooked by Bafta.
Friday Night dinner star Paul Ritter, who died earlier this month aged 54, is nominated for best male performance in a comedy.
Bafta noted online how it was “very sorry” to hear the news of Ritter’s death.
Late last year, Sir Steve McQueen said “things are changing” for black British film-makers after one part of his series, Lovers Rock, was named the best film of 2020 by Sight & Sound magazine.
“To be honest with you, black and brown-skinned people have not been really welcomed into the film and television community,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“But now things are sort of changing things and people are realising that things need to be sorted and things need to be changed and there’s opportunities there – we’ve just got to take them when we get them.”
Sir Steve added that he made the Small Axe series, which tackled a range of issues around race relations, so people like his own mother could see stories like their own reflected.
“Firstly, I wanted to make Small Axe for my mother, in a way that you could turn on the telly and have it accessible to her,” he said.
“And that period of time from the 60s to the early 80s, for me, it was a time where things were being contested and stories, which were being sort of swept under the carpet, needed to be spoken about and needed to be seen.”
Nominees for the Bafta Must-See Moment Award were announced earlier, and include Diversity’s controversial dance routine on Britain’s Got Talent, which provoked thousands of complaints.
- Bridgerton – Lady Whistledown is revealed
- Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent
- EastEnders – Gray kills Chantelle
- Gogglebox – Reactions to Boris Johnson’s news conference
- Nigella: Cook, Eat, Repeat – ‘Mee-cro-wah-vay’
- The Mandalorian – Luke Skywalker appears
Viewers have until 17:00 BST on 24 May to vote for the winner, which will be announced as part of the Bafta TV Awards ceremony on 6 June.
Comedian Richard Ayoade will to host the awards for the second year in a row.
Typically an extravagant event at London’s Royal Festival Hall, festivities will be more restrained due to the safeguards in place due to Covid-19 and will take place in a closed studio.
Bafta’s TV Craft Awards, meanwhile, which celebrate behind-the-scenes achievements, will be announced by Famalam actress Gbemisola Ikumelo on 24 May.
Categories such as writing, sound, editing and production design will be handed out at the Craft Awards, while prizes for acting and best overall series will be announced at the Bafta TV Awards.