The BBC allegedly censored Siobhán McSweeney’s BAFTA speech… they’d want to wise up
The BAFTA TV Awards took place over in London last night, with plenty of Irish talent represented amongst the 2023 winners – including Siobhán McSweeney and Sharon Horgan.
Up for her first-ever BAFTA Award, Siobhán McSweeney – who played the inimitable Sister Michael on Derry Girls – was announced as one of this year’s nominees back in March.
Sharing a photo of her celebrating with some tea and toast (and later some champagne), the Irish actor said that she was absolutely “over the moon” about it all. “What a day lads. I’m glad I’m not cool enough to take this casually. But I’m cool enough to realise how cool this is. I’ve won already,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.
Fast forward to last night’s ceremony and, unsurprisingly, McSweeney actually did win, taking home the gold for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme. Beginning her acceptance speech by saying that she had been “warned not to do a political statement”, the Cork native had the audience in stitches as she told an anecdote about her mother.
“I’m going to start with a funny bit. As my mother lay dying in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, one of the very last things she said to me was, ‘Would I not reconsider training as a teacher?’ If she could see me now, getting a BAFTA for playing a teacher. Joke’s on you, mam!”
Despite the warnings, McSweeney couldn’t help herself from getting a little political though and ended her speech by saying, “To the people of Derry, thank you for taking me into your hearts and your living rooms. I am daily impressed with how ye encompass the spirit of compromise and resilience despite the indignities, ignorance and stupidity of your so-called leaders in Dublin, Stormont and Westminster. In the words of my beloved Sister Michael, it’s time they started to wise up. Thank you so much.”
While Siobhán’s speech in full is available to watch on social media and on the official BAFTA YouTube channel, eagle-eyed fans have since noticed that the version the BBC decided to air was noticeably shorter – with many accusing the network of deliberately censoring McSweeney.
In the televised version, McSweeney simply says, “To the people of Derry, thank you for taking me into your hearts and your living rooms. Thank you so much.”
Issuing a statement in response to the backlash, the BBC said that the difference was down to broadcasting time constraints. “As in previous years, due to the nature of the show it is broadcast with a short delay, and while we always aim to keep the core sentiment of acceptance speeches, edits have to be made due to time constraints.”
BBC STATEMENT has been released (1/2):
"As in previous years, due to the nature of the show it is broadcast with a short delay, and while we always aim to keep the core sentiment of acceptance speeches, edits have to be made due to time constraints." https://t.co/9YWwNHHyEA
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) May 15, 2023
As TV critic and broadcaster Scott Bryan noted on Twitter, the BBC had to fit a three-hour ceremony into a two-hour slot and many other cuts were made throughout the broadcast for this reason. That said, the wide majority of fans maintain that McSweeney’s full speech should have been left in. “The ‘core sentiment’ is the exact part that was removed,” one Twitter user pointed out. “Complete and utter censorship.”
Other winners on the night included Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee, and Bad Sisters’ Anne-Marie Duff and Sharon Horgan. Picking up the award for Best Drama Series, Horgan said that it’s been “a bit of a year for the Irish and women of a certain age”. “I’m in that Venn diagram, right in the middle,” she laughed. “It was a really difficult shoot… we worked so hard and everyone still liked each other at the end, I can’t believe it!”
Also mentioning the ongoing writers’ strike over in the US, Horgan said that the Writers Guild of America has her full support. “It all begins and ends with the writers so, we’re in solidarity to our WGA brothers and sisters.”
As for the fashion? Horgan opted for a lacy black gown from The Vampires Wife while McSweeney donned an off-the-shoulder dress from American label Fashion Brand Company. Speaking on the red carpet just moments before her win, McSweeney told RTÉ Lifestyle that she had turned down several different designers who had offered to dress her for the occasion as she wanted to support a business that catered to bodies like hers.
“My dress is from an American brand called Fashion Brand Company who are great fun and are very, very wide in their sizing. I had lots of offers of amazing designers who wanted to dress me but I refuse to wear anything by a designer who would not design for my body if it wasn’t BAFTA-nominated. It’s the same fantastic and pretty average body whether it’s BAFTA-nominated or not so I’d prefer to support people who dress for people like me, the very average woman, all the time.” As if we couldn’t love her any more.