British talent has dominated TV’s biggest awards night, with stars including Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor and Michaela Coel honoured – and royal drama The Crown and feel-good football comedy Ted Lasso cleaning up.
The 2021 Emmys was a night of Hollywood bowing down to the UK’s acting royalty, with The Crown named best drama and stars Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor taking home awards for their portrayals of the Queen and Prince Charles in the fourth season of the hit Netflix series.
One of the most applauded wins of the night was Coel’s writing recognition for her hard-hitting drama I May Destroy You – an award she dedicated to “every single survivor of sexual assault”.
Winslet was named best actress in a limited series for her critically acclaimed performance as a small-town detective in gritty Sky murder drama Mare Of Easttown – in a tough category that saw her up against Cynthia Erivo, Anya Taylor-Joy and Elizabeth Olsen, as well as Coel – while McGregor picked up the best actor equivalent for Halston.
Ted Lasso, the Apple TV+ London-based comedy about an American football coach brought in to manage a struggling English Premier League club, was named best comedy for its first season, while US star Jason Sudeikis picked up the gong for best comedy actor. The series also saw wins for two of its British actors, Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein, who were named best supporting actress and actor in the comedy category.
Perhaps the only real surprise of the night came right at the end with the final award, which saw chess drama The Queen’s Gambit take home the best limited series gong ahead of favourites I May Destroy You and Mare Of Easttown.
The biggest night in US TV returned to downtown Los Angeles for a glamourous in-person event, 12 months after last year’s pandemic-hit remote ceremony, while many of The Crown stars accepted their awards at a ceremony in London. It was a huge night for the royal show – and a fitting end to Colman’s reign after two seasons, with Imelda Staunton set to take over in series five.
Oscar-winner Colman delivered yet another memorable awards show acceptance speech, becoming emotional as she paid tribute to her late father, who died during the pandemic. “What a lovely end to the most extraordinary journey with this lovely family,” she said. “I loved every second of it and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
She continued: “I wish my dad was here to see this. I lost my daddy during Covid and he would have loved all of this.”
During his speech, O’Connor paid tribute to his co-star Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana and was nominated alongside Colman, describing the actress as a “force of nature”. The Crown’s supporting stars also won, with Gillian Anderson and Tobias Menzies recognised for playing Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Edinburgh respectively.
Coel, the star and creator of the critically acclaimed I May Destroy You, which explores the issues of consent and sexual assault, used her acceptance speech to send a message to fellow writers, saying that “visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success, do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence”.
Winslet’s win, in one of the most competitive categories, saw her recognised for playing the vape-smoking detective Mare in Mare Of Easttown, one of the year’s most talked about dramas. Accepting her prize, the actress said the decade must be about “women having each other’s backs” – and thanked the show’s creator for writing a lead character who is a “middle-aged, imperfect, flawed mother”, adding: “You made us all feel validated.”
The supporting stars of Mare Of Easttown also won in the limited series category, with Julianne Nicholson named outstanding supporting actress and Evan Peters outstanding supporting actor – both thanked Winslet in their speeches.
Elsewhere, the ceremony’s In Memoriam section included tributes to stars including Larry King, Helen McCrory, Cicely Tyson and Michael K Williams – who died earlier in September, and had been nominated in the supporting actor category for drama.
Actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen was the recipient of this year’s governor’s award, the TV Academy’s lifetime achievement prize – becoming the first black woman to be honoured with the gong.