British Academy Television Award
2023 winner Ben Whishaw
CountryUnited Kingdom
Presented byBritish Academy of Film and Television Arts
First awarded1955
Currently held byBen Whishaw for This is Going to Hurt (2022)

This is a list of the British Academy Television Awards for Best Actor. The Best Actor award was initially given as an "individual honour", without credit to a particular performance, until 1962, when Rupert Davies won for his performance in Maigret. Since 1970, nominees have been announced in addition to the winner. The Actor category was split into Leading Actor and Supporting Actor starting in 2010.

Michael Gambon holds the record of most wins in this category with four, including three consecutive wins, followed by Robbie Coltrane with three, all of them also being consecutive. Benedict Cumberbatch was received the most nominations for this award, with six.

Winners and nominees

Paul Rogers (left) was the first recipient of the award.


Year Actor
Paul Rogers
Peter Cushing
Michael Gough
Michael Hordern
Donald Pleasence


Rupert Davies was the first actor to receive this award for a specific work, winning for Maigret.
Year Actors Work
Patrick McGoohan
Lee Montague
Rupert Davies Maigret
Harry H. Corbett Steptoe and Son
Alan Badel
Patrick Wymark
Alan Badel The Count Of Monte Cristo; Meeting Point; A Couple of Dry Martinis; Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life; Famous Gossips
Richard Briers Simon and Laura; Marriage Lines; Points of View; Present Laughter - Excerpt; Charley's Aunt; To You At Home Today
Ian Carmichael Simon and Laura; The World of Wooster
Patrick Wymark The Plane Makers; Crime and Punishment; Once a Jolly Swagman; Malatesta; Sherlock Holmes; I Remember the Battle; Four of Hearts – Tilt
Warren Mitchell Till Death Us Do Part
Eric Porter The Forsyte Saga
Roy Dotrice Brief Lives


Edward Woodward won in 1970 for Callan.
Keith Michell won the award in 1971.
Edward Fox won the award in 1979 for Edward & Mrs. Simpson.
Year Actors Work
Edward Woodward Callan
John Alderton Please Sir!
Colin Blakely Son of Man, The Way We Live Now
Arthur Lowe Dad's Army
Keith Michell The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Michael Bryant The Roads to Freedom
Anthony Hopkins The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens, Uncle Vanya, Hearts and Flowers, Danton
Michael Jayston Charles Dickens, Mad Jack, Beethoven
Freddie Jones Germinal/Omnibus: John Clare "I Am..."/Sweeney Todd/Uncle Vanya/Menace: The Straight And Narrow
John Le Mesurier Traitor
Alfred Burke Public Eye
Frank Finlay Casanova
Kenneth Haigh Search for the Nile, Man at the Top
Anthony Hopkins War and Peace
Michael Bryant The Duchess of Malfi, Colditz
Nicol Williamson The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Frank Finlay The Adventures of Don Quixote; Candide; The Death of Adolf Hitler
Michael Crawford Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
Bernard Hepton The Adventures of Don Quixote, Colditz
Laurence Olivier Long Day's Journey Into Night
Peter Barkworth Crown Matrimonial
Michael Bryant Mr Axelford's Angel
Gordon Jackson Upstairs, Downstairs
Arthur Lowe Microbes and Men, David Copperfield
John Hurt The Naked Civil Servant
Alan Bates Plaintiffs and Defendants, Two Sundays
Tony Britton The Nearly Man
Timothy West Edward the Seventh
Derek Jacobi I, Claudius
James Bolam When the Boat Comes In
Tom Conti The Glittering Prizes
Jack Shepherd Bill Brand, Ready When You Are Mr McGill
Peter Barkworth Professional Foul
James Bolam When the Boat Comes In
Derek Jacobi Philby, Burgess and Maclean
Robert Powell Jesus of Nazareth
Edward Fox Edward and Mrs Simpson
Tom Bell Out
Ian Holm Night School, Flayed, Mirage, The Lost Boys
Bob Hoskins Pennies From Heaven


Alec Guinness has won twice, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1980) and Smiley's People (1983).
Anthony Andrews won the award for Brideshead Revisited in 1982.
Ian Richardson won in 1991 for House of Cards.
Alan Bates won in 1984.
Michael Gambon won in 1987. Gambon holds the record of most wins in this category with four, including three consecutive wins.
Year Actors Work
Alec Guinness Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Robert Hardy Speed King & All Creatures Great and Small
Leo McKern Rumpole of the Bailey
Timothy West Churchill and the Generals; Henry VIII; Crime and Punishment; Timothy West as Beecham
Denholm Elliott Gentle Folk; In Hiding; Blade on the Feather; The Stinker (Tales of the Unexpected)
Trevor Howard The Shillingbury Blowers; Staying On
Leo McKern Rumpole's Return
Sam Waterston Oppenheimer
Anthony Andrews Brideshead Revisited
Robert Hardy Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years; Fothergill
John Gielgud Brideshead Revisited
Nickolas Grace
Jeremy Irons
Alec Guinness Smiley's People
George Cole Minder
Bernard Hill Boys from the Blackstuff
Laurence Olivier A Voyage Round My Father
Alan Bates An Englishman Abroad
Leo McKern Rumpole of the Bailey; Reilly, Ace of Spies
Ronald Pickup Orwell on Jura; Waters of the Moon
Martin Sheen Kennedy
Tim Pigott-Smith The Jewel In The Crown
George Cole Minder
Charles Dance The Jewel In The Crown
Art Malik
Bob Peck Edge of Darkness
Alec Guinness Monsignor Quioxte
Joe Don Baker Edge of Darkness
Ben Kingsley Silas Marner
Michael Gambon The Singing Detective
Colin Blakely Drums Along Balmoral Drive
Denholm Elliott Hotel du Lac
Paul McGann The Monocled Mutineer
Patrick Malahide The Singing Detective
David Threlfall Paradise Postponed
David Jason Porterhouse Blue
Kenneth Branagh Fortunes of War; The Lady's Not for Burning
Ray McAnally A Perfect Spy; Scout
Robbie Coltrane Tutti Frutti
Ray McAnally A Very British Coup
Alan Bennett A Chip in the Sugar
Colin Firth Tumbledown
Ian Holm Game, Set and Match


Robbie Coltrane won the award three consecutive times, all for his work in Cracker.
Simon Russell Beale won in 1998 for A Dance to the Music of Time.
Tom Courtenay won in 1999 for A Rather English Marriage.
Year Actors Work Character Network
John Thaw Inspector Morse Endeavour Morse ITV
Joss Ackland First and Last Alan Holly BBC One
Alfred Molina The Accountant Lionel Ellerman
John Gielgud Summer's Lease Haverford Downs BBC Two
Ian Richardson House of Cards Francis Urquhart BBC
John Thaw Inspector Morse Endeavour Morse ITV
David Suchet Agatha Christie's Poirot Hercule Poirot
Albert Finney The Green Man Maurice Allington BBC One
Robert Lindsay G.B.H. Michael Murray Channel 4
John Thaw Inspector Morse Endeavour Morse ITV
Tom Bell Prime Suspect Bill Otley
Michael Palin G.B.H. Jim Nelson Channel 4
John Thaw Inspector Morse Endeavour Morse ITV
Alan Bates Unnatural Pursuits Hamish Partt BBC Two
Brian Cox The Lost Language of Cranes Owen Benjamin
Ian Richardson An Ungentlemanly Act Rex Hunt
Robbie Coltrane Cracker Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald ITV
Michael Kitchen To Play the King The King BBC
Ian Richardson Francis Urquhart
Neil Pearson Between the Lines Tony Clark BBC One
Robbie Coltrane Cracker Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald ITV
Pete Postlethwaite Martin Chuzzlewit Montague Tigg BBC Two
Paul Scofield Old Martin Chuzzlewitt
Tom Wilkinson Seth Pecksniff
Robbie Coltrane Cracker Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald ITV
Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy BBC One
Benjamin Whitrow Mr. Bennet
Robert Lindsay Jake's Progress Jamie Diadoni Channel 4
Ian Richardson The Final Cut Francis Urquhart BBC
Nigel Hawthorne The Fragile Heart Edgar Pascoe Channel 4
Albert Finney Cold Lazarus / Karaoke Daniel Feeld BBC One / Channel 4
Christopher Eccleston Our Friends in the North Dominic 'Nicky' Hutchinson BBC Two
Peter Vaughan Felix Hutchinson
Simon Russell Beale A Dance to the Music of Time Kenneth Widmerpool Channel 4
Derek Jacobi Breaking the Code Alan Turing BBC
Robert Carlyle Hamish Macbeth Hamish Macbeth BBC One
Tom Wilkinson Cold Enough for Snow Hugh Lloyd
Tom Courtenay A Rather English Marriage Roy Southgate BBC
Robert Carlyle Looking After Jo Jo John Joe "Jo Jo" McCann BBC Two
Timothy Spall Our Mutual Friend Mr. Venus
Albert Finney A Rather English Marriage Reggie Conyngham-Jervis BBC


Albert Finney received the award in 2003 for The Gathering Storm, he also won a Primetime Emmy Award for the film.
Bill Nighy won for State of Play in 2004.
Mark Rylance has won twice, for The Government Inspector (2006) and Wolf Hall (2016).
Jim Broadbent won for Longford in 2007, he also received a Golden Globe Award for the role.
Year Actors Work Character Network
Michael Gambon Wives and Daughters Squire Hamley BBC One
Aidan Gillen Queer as Folk Stuart Alan Jones Channel 4
Pete Postlethwaite Lost for Words Deric Longden ITV
Timothy Spall Shooting the Past Oswald Bates BBC Two
Michael Gambon Longitude John Harrison Channel 4
Steven Mackintosh Care Davy Younger BBC One
Pete Postlethwaite The Sins Len Green
Ken Stott The Vice Pat Chappel ITV
Michael Gambon Perfect Strangers Raymond Symon BBC Two
Alan Bates Love in a Cold Climate Matthew Alconleigh BBC One
David Suchet The Way We Live Now Augustus Melmotte
Timothy Spall Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise Tommy Rag BBC Two
Albert Finney The Gathering Storm Winston Churchill BBC
James Nesbitt Bloody Sunday Ivan Cooper ITV
Kenneth Branagh Conspiracy Reinhard Heydrich BBC Two/HBO
Shackleton Ernest Shackleton Channel 4
Bill Nighy State of Play Cameron Lloyd BBC One
Christopher Eccleston The Second Coming Steven Baxter ITV
Jim Broadbent The Young Visiters Alfred Salteena BBC One
David Morrissey State of Play Stephen Collins
Rhys Ifans Not Only But Always Peter Cook Channel 4
Benedict Cumberbatch Hawking Stephen Hawking BBC Two
Mark Strong The Long Firm Harry Starks
Michael Sheen Dirty Filthy Love Mark Furness ITV
Mark Rylance The Government Inspector Dr. David Kelly Channel 4
Denis Lawson Bleak House John Jarndyce BBC One
Rufus Sewell ShakespeaRe-Told: The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio
Bernard Hill A Very Social Secretary David Blunkett Channel 4
Jim Broadbent Longford Frank Pakenham Channel 4
John Simm Life on Mars Sam Tyler BBC One
Andy Serkis Longford Ian Brady Channel 4
Michael Sheen Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! Kenneth Williams BBC Four
Andrew Garfield Boy A Jack Burridge / Eric Wilson Channel 4
Tom Hardy Stuart: A Life Backwards Stuart Shorter BBC Two
Matthew MacFadyen Secret Life Charlie Webb Channel 4
Antony Sher Primo Primo Levi BBC Four
Stephen Dillane The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall Anthony Hurndall Channel 4
Jason Isaacs The Curse of Steptoe Harry H. Corbett BBC Four
Ken Stott Hancock & Joan Tony Hancock
Ben Whishaw Criminal Justice Ben Coulter BBC One


Kenneth Branagh won for Wallander in 2010, he also won an International Emmy Award for the role in 2017.
Dominic West won for Appropriate Adult in 2012.
Sean Bean won in 2018 for Broken.
Benedict Cumberbatch won for Patrick Melrose in 2019; this was his sixth nomination in this category and first win.
Year Actors Work Character Network
Kenneth Branagh Wallander Kurt Wallander BBC One
Brendan Gleeson Into the Storm Winston Churchill BBC
John Hurt An Englishman in New York Quentin Crisp ITV
David Oyelowo Small Island Gilbert Joseph BBC One
Daniel Rigby Eric and Ernie Eric Morecambe BBC Two
Jim Broadbent Any Human Heart Logan Mountstuart Channel 4
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Sherlock Holmes BBC One
Matt Smith Doctor Who The Doctor
Dominic West Appropriate Adult Fred West ITV
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Sherlock Holmes BBC One
John Simm Exile Tom Ronstadt
Joseph Gilgun This Is England '88 Richard Woodford Channel 4
Ben Whishaw The Hollow Crown Richard II BBC Two
Sean Bean Accused Simon/Tracie BBC One
Derek Jacobi Last Tango in Halifax Alan Buttershaw
Toby Jones The Girl Alfred Hitchcock BBC Two
Sean Harris Southcliffe Stephen Morton Channel 4
Jamie Dornan The Fall Paul Spector BBC Two
Luke Newberry In the Flesh Kieren Walker BBC Three
Dominic West Burton & Taylor Richard Burton BBC Four
Jason Watkins The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies Christopher Jefferies ITV
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Sherlock Holmes BBC One
James Nesbitt The Missing Tony Hughes
Toby Jones Marvellous Neil Baldwin BBC Two
Mark Rylance Wolf Hall Thomas Cromwell BBC Two
Stephen Graham This is England '90 Andrew "Combo" Gascoigne Channel 4
Idris Elba Luther John Luther BBC One
Ben Whishaw London Spy Daniel Holt BBC Two
Adeel Akhtar Murdered by My Father Shahzad Khan BBC Three
Babou Ceesay Damilola, Our Loved Boy Richard Taylor BBC One
Robbie Coltrane National Treasure Paul Finchley Channel 4
Benedict Cumberbatch The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses Richard III BBC Two
Sean Bean Broken Michael Kerrigan BBC One
Jack Rowan Born to Kill Sam Woodford Channel 4
Joe Cole Black Mirror Frank Netflix
Tim Pigott-Smith King Charles III King Charles III BBC Two
Benedict Cumberbatch Patrick Melrose Patrick Melrose Sky Atlantic
Hugh Grant A Very English Scandal Jeremy Thorpe BBC One
Lucian Msamati Kiri Tobi Akindele Channel 4
Chance Perdomo Killed by My Debt Jerome Rogers BBC Three


Jared Harris won for Chernobyl in 2020.
Paul Mescal won for Normal People in 2021.
Year Actors Work Character Network
Jared Harris Chernobyl Valery Legasov Sky Atlantic
Stephen Graham The Virtues Joseph Lowery Channel 4
Takehiro Hira Giri/Haji Kenzo Mori BBC Two
Callum Turner The Capture Shaun Emery BBC One
Paul Mescal Normal People Connell Waldron BBC Three
John Boyega Small Axe: Red, White and Blue Leroy Logan BBC One
Paapa Essiedu I May Destroy You Kwame
Shaun Parkes Small Axe: Mangrove Frank Crichlow
Josh O'Connor The Crown Charles, Prince of Wales Netflix
Waleed Zuaiter Baghdad Central Muhsin al-Khafaji Channel 4

Sean Bean Time Mark Cobden BBC One
Samuel Adewunmi You Don't Know Me Hero BBC One
David Thewlis Landscapers Christopher Edwards Sky Atlantic
Olly Alexander It's a Sin Ritchie Tozer Channel 4
Stephen Graham Help Tony
Hugh Quarshie Stephen Neville Lawrence ITV

Ben Whishaw This Is Going to Hurt Adam Kay BBC One
Taron Egerton Black Bird James "Jimmy" Keene Jr. Apple TV+
Gary Oldman Slow Horses Jackson Lamb
Martin Freeman The Responder Chris Carson BBC One
Cillian Murphy Peaky Blinders Tommy Shelby
Chaske Spencer The English Sgt. Eli Whipp / Wounded Wolf BBC Two

Actors with multiple wins and nominations

Multiple wins

The following people have been awarded the British Academy Television Award for Actor multiple times:

Multiple nominations

The following people have been nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Actor multiple times:


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  3. ^ "Bafta TV awards 2022: full list of nominations". The Guardian. 30 March 2022. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  4. ^ Ritman, Alex (22 March 2023). "BAFTA TV Awards: 'This is Going to Hurt,' 'The Responder' Lead Pack of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Bafta TV awards 2023: the full list of winners". Guardian. 14 May 2023. Retrieved 15 May 2023.