LONDON

BBC

 

Stars from the world of TV are preparing for this year's Bafta Awards, with Olympic satireTwenty Twelveand BBC drama Accused among the nominees.

They have four nominations each, as do The Girl, about Alfred Hitchcock, and Last Tango inHalifax, starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid.

Sir Derek is up against Sean Bean, who played transvestite Tracie in Accused, for the best actor award.

Graham Norton will host the ceremony atLondon's Royal Festival Hall.

Also in the best leading actor category, Toby Jones is nominated for his performance as film director Hitchcock in The Girl and Ben Whishaw is in the running for playing Richard II.

Last year, the best actor trophy went to Dominic West for his portrayal of serial killer Fred West in ITV's Appropriate Adult. Sheridan Smith has earned her first Bafta nomination in the best actress category for Mrs Biggs, based on the true story of the wife of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.

She will face competition from Sienna Miller, who played American model and actress Tippi Hedren in The Girl, plus Rebecca Hall for Parade's End and Anne Reid for Last Tango In Halifax.

Last Tango inHalifax, which told the story of teenage sweethearts reunited through Facebook 60 years on, is nominated in the best drama series category, while Sarah Lancashire is up for best supporting actress.

There are two nominations for Peter Capaldi, who is up for best actor for BBC Two's 1950s newsroom drama The Hour and best male performance in a comedy programme for his role as foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It.

The Thick Of It is in the running for best comedy, along with Twenty Twelve, Episodes and Hunderby.

Steve Coogan's return as Alan Partridge in Welcome To The Places Of My Life is also nominated for best performance in a comedy programme, along with Inbetweeners star Greg Davies, who is recognised for Cuckoo.

Despite a difficult time financially drama is on a high, with all the major channels investing in the genre. In a year when Sky has garnered more nominations than ever before, with eight, director of Sky Entertainment Channels Stuart Murphy says good drama sells.

"We're investing an awful lot in drama because here it's commercially viable. Lots of people watch it in their droves and the key thing is it can sell internationally, particularly the American market which is massive. Usually drama has just been on BBC1 and ITV1 because it's so expensive but now with our investment at Sky and with Channel 4 investing in drama there's so many different places you can go," Murphy said.

Coronation Street and EastEnders face Holby City and Shameless in the soap and continuing drama category - won last year by ITV's Coronation Street.

The best sport and live event shortlist features the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Super Saturday on BBC One, Channel 4's Paralympics coverage and the Wimbledon 2012 Men's Final.

Viewers have been voting for the winner of the audience award, with Call the Midwife, Game of Thrones, The Great British Bake Off, Homeland, the Olympic Opening Ceremony and Strictly Come Dancing competing for public support.

TV critic Andrew Billen told Sky News that Britain is competing on the international stage in terms of programme quality.

"When I was growing up some of the most exciting tv actually came from America. These days in production values, in writing, in the charisma of the stars, British TV feels it has to match that to get the audiences and increasingly it's finding ways to do so."

The Olympics is recognised with mentions for the opening ceremony, coverage of the Games as well as Twenty Twelve, the Olympics inspired sitcom with a total of eight for Olympics-themed programming.

Comedy is well represented, both international offerings like Girls, and homegrown talent - Hunderby, Episodes and Miranda - as well as familiar favourites like Alan Partridge.

Rob and Niel Gibbons the new team behind Steve Coogan's creation say it's a good time to be writing gags.

"It's changed very quickly from four or five years ago when there was nothing being made. The commercial channels didn't really want to spend money on comedy, the BBC was cutting back a bit, Sky wasn't doing much and not a great deal was happening on the internet and it's all totally changed now."

Bafta will also be honouring Dr Who with a special tribute to mark the Timelord's 50th anniversary.

Michael Palin will be presented with the Bafta fellowship and Clare Balding will receive a special award for outstanding achievement in factual presenting.