Cor blimey, the British aren’t coming — they’re here to stay. Including Ricky Gervais’ surprise Emmy nomination as Lead Actor in a Comedy series for Derek this morning, there are 15 nods for Brits in the acting races this year. If we add voice-overs, Jeremy Irons and Daniel Craig would make it 17 performance nods. Last year, there were 14 total.
British actors have been plying their trade in U.S. series for ages, but this crop boasts a lot of British-based (or instigated) productions and co-productions rather than U.S. shows à la Homeland. The UK TV tax credit has encouraged British broadcasters to strive for increasingly ambitious productions.
Along with Gervais, whose Derek was originally commissioned for Channel 4 before being picked up by Netflix, there’s a big group from perennial Downton Abbey, a co-pro of Carnival Films and Masterpiece; a first Emmy nod for Golden Globe nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor in BBC miniseries Dancing On The Edge, which Starz airs Stateside; Idris Elba in Luther, another BBC show that goes out on BBC America; and Helena Bonham Carter playing the British-American Elizabeth Taylor in BBC and BBC America co-pro Burton & Taylor. And, of course, Sherlock is back this year. Benedict Cumberbatch scored a Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie spot as the titular detective, and Martin Freeman picked up a supporting mention as John Watson in the Hartswood/BBC/Masterpiece co-production. One show that surprisingly received zero nods was Broadchurch, the ITV drama that captivated Britain then ran on BBC America in August.
Freeman is also up for Fargo, the FX series that scored 18 nominations. The busy actor employs a Minnesota accent in that show. Also doing away with plummy tones is Minnie Driver, who’s up for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for Return To Zero.
Although Downton Abbey sheds a couple of mentions each year (16 in 2012, 13 in 2013 and 12 in 2014), it is still the most Emmy-nominated British show in the history of the awards. It is also still a major factor in the major categories. Michelle Dockery nabbed her third consecutive Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination while Joanne Froggatt picked up her second nod in the Supporting Actress category where she will compete against constant Maggie Smith. Jim Carter is back in the Supporting Actor race for the third time, and non-Brit Paul Giamatti scored a mention for his turn as Cora’s brother Harold Levinson who appeared in the Christmas episode.
The show also has nods as Outstanding Drama Series and for its directing, art direction, costumes, score, hairstyling and sound mixing. Exec producer Gareth Neame said today, “It is the members of the TV Academy that helped turn Downton into a global hit and we’ll never forget that!”
The return of Sherlock to eligibility after its third-series run in January was catnip for balloters who gave the show 12 nods. Along with the acting mentions, it will figure in the miniseries races for writing, directing, casting, cinematography, costumes, editing, mixing and original score. The Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie category that star Cumberbatch falls into is the one that’s overwhelmingly populated with Brits — it’s also where Ejiofor, Elba and Freeman (for Fargo) pop up.
Also among the UK actors vying for prizes are Lena Headey for her supporting turn, and Diana Rigg for her guest role, on HBO‘s Game Of Thrones; and Alfred Molina for his part in HBO’s The Normal Heart.
Away from the acting categories but sticking with HBO, Stephen Frears picked up a directing nod for HBO movie Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight.
Luther also scored a nod for Outstanding Miniseries and for writing in its final season. The White Queen — a limited series which was not renewed by the BBC in the UK but is expected to continue with sequel The White Princess at Starz — was nominated for Outstanding Mini as well as for its costumes and other craft mentions. The narration category has a pair of Home Counties voices: Jeremy Irons is up for Game Of Lions and Daniel Craig for One Life, both from Nat Geo Wild.