Siobhán McSweeney's Baftas speech: Derry Girls star's Bafta TV Awards acceptance in full - without BBC edits
Siobhán McSweeney won Female Performance in a Comedy Series at the 2023 Baftas for her role as Sister George Michael in the Channel 4 comedy drama Derry Girls
and live on Freeview channel 276
Siobhán McSweeney won the Bafta TV award for Female Performance in a Comedy Series and made a powerful two-minute acceptance speech. But if you watched the show on BBC One or BBC iPlayer, you’ll have missed out on an important part of her speech.
McSweeney won the award for her role as the strict Catholic nun and headmistress Sister George Michael in the Channel 4 comedy drama Derry Girls. The series is set during the later years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland but focuses on the lives of four schoolgirls and their one male friend.
In her full speech, McSweeney made a political statement that was cut from the BBC broadcast. However, about one hour after her speech was first aired on BBC One, the full, unedited version was released on YouTube by Bafta. This is what Siobhán McSweeney said.
What did Siobhán McSweeney say at the 2023 Bafta TV Awards?
In the speech given by McSweeney on winning the Bafta for Female Performance in a Comedy Series, she begins by saying: "So I've been warned to not do a political statement or be really, really boring or sad and stuff so I'm going to start with the funny bit."
She then ironically talks about her mother’s dying request for her to consider retraining as a teacher. She goes on to thank her co-stars and the crew she worked with on Derry Girls, and thanks the people of Derry for "taking me into your hearts and your living rooms".
In the BBC broadcast and on iPlayer this is immediately followed by her saying "thank you so much" and ending leaving the stage. But that’s now how all that she said in her acceptance speech.
What did Siobhán McSweeney really say at the 2023 Bafta TV Awards?
The awards show was broadcast ‘as live’ but was actually filmed two hours before it was broadcast, meaning that the BBC had time to make any edits that were required. It’s also why you may have seen results announced online before they were revealed on the show.
McSweeney was the first winner to be announced and she kicked off the night with a strong speech, which was only fully revealed on the Bafta YouTube channel. Despite beginning with a warning that she shouldn’t say anything too political, this went out the window towards the end of her speech.
In the unedited version after thanking the people of Derry, she continues: “I am, daily, impressed with how you encompassed the spirit of compromise and resilience, despite the indignities, ignorance and stupidity of your so-called leaders in Dublin, Stormont and Westminster. In the words of my beloved Sister Michael, ‘It’s time they started to wise up'.”
McSweeney managed a hattrick of political snipes, taking aim at Irish, Northern Irish, and British politicians.
Her speech was met with strong applause from the attendees as she left the stage, and in the full version actors Simon Farnaby and Mathew Baynton can be seen smiling as she pours scorn on the two nation’s leaders.
The video description on the Bafta YouTube channel included the statement: “The views and opinions expressed by individuals featured in this clip are solely those of the individuals expressing them and should not be taken to be the views and opinions of BAFTA.” This disclaimer was attached to videos of all acceptance speeches from the event.
Has the BBC responded to questions about Siobhan McSweeney’s Bafta speech?
The BBC, in response to media requests, stated that some edits were made "due to time constraints" of the two-hour show. The edit saw roughly 24 seconds of McSweeney’s speech cut. The BBC also stated that they "aim to keep the core sentiment of acceptance speeches", although the channel’s edit removed the entire political thrust of McSweeney’s speech.
“As in previous years, due to the nature of the show it is broadcast with a short delay, and while we always aim to keep the core sentiment of acceptance speeches, edits have to be made due to time constraints," a BBC statement read.