London-Wolf Hall won two awards at this year’s Bafta Television Awards, on a night which contained several speeches that defended the independence of the BBC.

Mark Rylance received the leading actor award for his role as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC Two historical drama, which also picked up the drama prize. C4’s This is England ‘90 and Peter Kay’s Car Share also won two prizes. The leading actress prize went to Suranne Jones for her role in the BBC One marital drama Doctor Foster. The ceremony, hosted by Graham Norton, took place at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Sunday night. It comes just days before the government prepares to publish a white paper that sets out the BBC’s future role, function and structure.  In his acceptance speech, Rylance said: “Woe to any government and any corporation who tries to get between the British people and their love of a good joke, a true story, a good song, a fact, a fiction, good sports commentating, newscasters who can hold themselves together as they tell stories about tragedies in Paris, people who can bake cakes.  “The incredible variety of popular culture in this country, it’s really blown my mind tonight.”

Wolf Hall won the first award of the night for drama series. Its director, Peter Kosminsky, used his acceptance speech to defend the independence of the BBC, saying it was “under threat”.

Talking about the notion that government appointees might sit on the editorial board he said: “This is scary stuff folks... it’s not their BBC - it’s your BBC.”

He later told BBC 5 live that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale “should seriously consider his position”. The government declined to comment ahead of the white paper’s publication.

Sir Lenny Henry, picking up a special award for his outstanding contribution to TV, used to his speech to renew his call for the BBC to include diversity as part of its charter.

He hoped that “all those 14-year-olds out there super-glued to their phones who hope to work in TV irrespective of their race, gender sexuality, class, disability, can realise that ambition as I was able to realise mine - if we do this we will make this fantastic industry even greater”.