Cowell Plans To Take 'Talent' Global

Simon Cowell says he is “excited” about creating a worldwide talent show pitting winners of his Got Talent franchise against each other. Such a show would draw on the winners and runners-up from some of the 36 countries that televise the format. It would be broadcast to an international audience of 300 million viewers and boast a top prize of £1 million ($1.4 million). Cowell was talking about the idea of a global competition backstage at the Bafta TV awards. Such a show would have to work without judges, he said. Instead, TV viewers would vote at home in a global Eurovision-style contest. “It’s like coming out of the [soccer] Premiership into the Champions League,” he said.

Bafta was awarding Cowell a Special Award at the Philips British Television Awards, recognising his role in developing new talent. Previous Special Awards have gone to BBC executive Jane Tranter and independent producer Andy Harries in the past.

Some would question the wisdom of giving Cowell such an award. He’s been called a fathead who’s done the most damage to Britain’s intellectual life since Rupert Murdoch. Others call Cowell a brilliant producer, whose X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent – which ended its latest run here on Saturday night with a peak audience of 15 million – are outstandlingly made compared to the BBC’s staid rival Strictly Come Dancing. He may have plenty of producers working under him, but Cowell generates all the ideas himself. According to Bafta TV chairman John Willis, Cowell has not only changed the UK entertainment landscape but has reinvented Saturday night family entertainment. “He is quite simply one of the most brilliant entertainment producers of our time,” Willis said.

Accepting the Special Award, Cowell said: “To put this into perspective, on a personal level one of my happiest memories as a kid was my dad coming back with a TV set and watching the one programme in colour.”

Britain’s Got Talent co-presenter “Dec” Donnelly, wryly referred to the way that Cowell has almost single-handedly kept ITV going: “Over the past decade, this man has helped make ITV what it is today – still in business.”

Cowell created the X Factor and Got Talent formats for ITV, which have subsequently been sold around the world. The X Factor is broadcast in 26 countries. He has amassed a £165 million fortune by persuading ordinary people that their dreams of stardom could become reality.

Mad Men, the 60s-set US advertising industry drama broadcast over here on BBC4, scooped the international gong, beating the likes of True Blood and Family Guy. The US drama is one of the expensive foreign imports that could be cut following the BBC’s spending review this year.

The BBC won 13 Baftas, ITV took three and Channel 4 six plus one for its digital channel E4.

Ironically, it was Cowell’s polar opposite, Lord Melvyn Bragg, who was awarded the only other special award. Bragg has presented highbrow arts show The South Bank Show for the past 30 years before ITV pulled the plug on it.

TV presenters Ant and Dec finally landed their own Bafta for fronting another ITV reality show, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Ant joked: “You feed a couple of kangaroo testicles to a glamour model and you get a Bafta.”

2010 British Academy Television Awards full list of winners and nominees:

Best actor
Kenneth Branagh – Wallander (BBC One)
Also nominated:
Brendan Gleeson – Into The Storm (BBC Two)
John Hurt – An Englishman In New York (ITV1)
David Oleweyo – Small Island (BBC One)

Best actress
Julie Walters – Mo (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Helena Bonham Carter – Enid (BBC Four)
Sophie Okenedo – Mrs Mandela (BBC Four)
Julie Walters – A Short Stay In Switzerland (BBC One)

Best supporting actor
Matthew Macfadyen – Criminal Justice (BBC One)
Also nominated:
Tom Hollander – Gracie! (BBC Four)
Gary Lewis – Mo (Channel 4)
Benedict Cumberbatch – Small Island (BBC One)

Best supporting actress
Rebecca Hall – Red Riding (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Sophie Okonedo – Criminal Justice (BBC One)
Lauren Socha – The Unloved (Channel 4)
Imelda Staunton – Cranford (BBC One)

Best entertainment performance
Ant and Dec – I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV1)
Also nominated:
Stephen Fry – QI (BBC One)
Harry Hill – Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1)
Michael McIntyre – Comedy Roadshow (BBC One)

Best male comedy performance
Peter Capaldi – The Thick of It (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
Simon Bird – The Inbetweeners (Channel Four)
Hugh Dennis – Outnumbered Christmas Special (BBC One)
David Mitchell – Peep Show (Channel 4)

Best female comedy performance

Rebecca Front – The Thick of It (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
Jo Brand – Getting On (Channel Four)
Miranda Hart – Miranda (BBC Two)
Joanna Scanlon – Getting On (BBC Four)

Best single drama
The Unloved (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Five Minutes of Heaven (BBC Two)
Mo (Channel 4)
A Short Stay in Switzerland (BBC One)

Best drama serial
Occupation (BBC One)
Also nominated:
Red Riding (Channel 4)
Small Island (BBC One)
Unforgiven (ITV1)

Best drama series
Misfits (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Being Human (BBC Three)
Spooks (BBC One)
The Street (BBC One)

Best continuing drama
EastEnders (BBC One)
Also nominated:
The Bill (ITV1)
Casualty (BBC One)
Coronation Street (ITV1)

Best factual series
One Born Every Minute (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Blood, Sweat and Takeaways (BBC Three)
The Family (Channel 4)
Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC One)

Best entertainment programme
Britain’s Got Talent (ITV1)
Also nominated:
Harry Hill’s TV Burp (ITV1)
The Graham Norton Show (BBC One)
Newswipe with Charlie Brooker (BBC Four)

Best situation comedy
The Thick of It (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
Miranda (BBC Two)
Peep Show (Channel 4)
The Inbetweeners (E4)

Best comedy programme
The Armstrong & Miller Show (BBC One)
Also nominated:
The Kevin Bishop Show (Channel 4)
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (BBC Two)
That Mitchell & Webb Look (BBC Two)

Audience award
The Inbetweeners (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Britain’s Got Talent (ITV1)
Glee (Channel 4)
The One Show (BBC One)
Unforgiven (ITV1)
The X Factor (ITV1)

Best single documentary
Wounded (BBC One)
Also nominated:
Louis Theroux: A Place for Paedophiles (BBC Two)
Tsunami: Caught on Camera (Channel 4)
Katie: My Beautiful Face (Channel 4)

Best feature
Masterchef: The Professionals (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
James May’s Toy Stories (BBC Two)
Heston’s Feasts (Channel 4)
The Choir: Unsung Town (BBC Two)

Best international show

Mad Men (BBC Four)
Also nominated:
Nurse Jackie (BBC Two)
Family Guy (BBC Three)
True Blood (FX)

Best specialist factual
Inside Nature’s Giants (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Art of Russia (BBC Four)
Chemistry: A Volatile History (BBC Four)
Yellowstone (BBC Two)

Best current affairs
Terror in Mumbai – Dispatches (Channel 4)
Also nominated:
Afghanistan: Behind Enemy Lines – Dispatches (Channel 4)
Generation Jihad (BBC Two)
Gypsy Child Thieves – This World (BBC Two)

Best news coverage
The Haiti Earthquake (ITV News at Ten)
Also nominated:
The Haiti Earthquake (Channel 4 News)
The Haiti Earthquake (BBC News Channel)
Pakistan: Terror’s Frontline (Sky News)

Best sport
World Athletics Championships (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
FA Cup Final (ITV1)
F1 – The Brazilian Grand Prix (BBC One)
UEFA Champions League Live (ITV1)

New Media
Virtual Revolution (BBC Two)
Also nominated:
Antony Gormley’s One & Other (Sky Arts)
Life Begins (Channel 4)
Primeval Evolved (ITV1)

Special Award
Simon Cowell

Bafta Fellowship
Melvyn Bragg

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