Richard Ayoade has impressed viewers with his “wonderfully dry” sense of humour as he made his debut as host of the Bafta TV Awards.
The comedian, presenter and star of The IT Crowd, 43, hosted the first socially-distanced edition of the long-running ceremony on BBC One.
He kicked off the show with a pre-recorded segment featuring him outside the BBC Television Centre in London, in which he excitedly told the camera “Let’s check out how the atmosphere is fizzing inside”.
However, upon cutting to the empty studio viewers were met with silence.
Ayoade cut off actress Sian Clifford as she celebrated winning the female performance in a comedy programme for her role in BBC Three hit Fleabag.
Clifford was nominated in the category alongside Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and said to her fellow nominees: “We’re all winners here.”
Ayoade replied: “I think the words you were looking for were you ‘beat Phoebe’. And that is why we need camera people – get a grip.”
After inviting actor Himesh Patel on stage to present the supporting actress prize, he asked: “Himesh, how excited are you to be here – and by my leading question?”
Ahead of presenting Idris Elba with the special award, he quipped: “Let us now lionise a living legend, a figure of such conspicuous capacity in so many fields that it seems improbable he is one person.
“Out of sheer respect, I refuse to kickbox him. It’s time to present the special award, one of the highest accolades Bafta can bestow.”
One viewer wrote of his performance on Twitter: “Richard Ayoade did a fantastic job of hosting the BAFTA TV awards, his wonderfully dry sense of humour manages to emphasise while also embracing the flaws endearingly of a socially distant award show (which is a surreal idea in itself).
“Always a great time when Richard is on TV.”
A second added: “This years #BAFTAS was the best I’ve ever seen.
“Perfect hosting @RichardAyoade calling out the complete awkwardness of these things (lockdown or not).
“And then 2 wins for @JamieTonight – best comedy I’ve seen in years. Just keep it this way from now on yes?”