Stephen Rea Wins BAFTA

Belfast-born actor picks up the award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in BBC political drama The Honourable Woman

Northern Irish actor Stephen Rea has been named Best Supporting Actor at the 2015 British Academy Television Awards for his role in BBC 2's political drama The Honourable Woman.

The Oscar nominee played an MI6 boss across the eight-episode spy series, which aired in 2014. Rea collected the first gong of last night's star-studded London ceremony, beating off competition from The Missing's Ken Stott and Adeel Akhtar of Utopia. Previous recipients of the honour include Martin Freeman and David Bradley.

In his acceptance speech, the 68-year old said: 'It's very satisfying to be nominated, and to win – I just can't believe it. I'd like to thank all the cast and crew who were magnificent, and there were so many wonderful actors in The Honourable Woman. I feel I am receiving this on their behalf.'

Rea acts opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in the standalone mini-series, who has already collected a Golden Globe for her performance in the title role.

His extensive filmography includes Michael Collins, V for Vendetta and an Academy Award-nominated turn in 1992's The Crying Game. 

Off-screen, the last few years have seen productions from the actor's Field Day theatre company be met with acclaim from Clandeboye to Broadway.

Speaking about the success, the Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: 'Stephen Rea is one of the great Irish actors, ranking alongside the many other iconic names in the field to come from this island. For decades, Stephen has worked in film, television and theatre and has appeared in works of international renown.

'Stephen has won several awards in the past, including an Irish Academy Award, and been Oscar and Golden Globe nominated. This latest success underlines his supreme talent.'

It wasn't a full sweep for Northern Ireland's showing at the 2015 BAFTA television awards, however, with Coleraine man and The Missing star James Nesbitt losing out in the Best Leading Actor category to Jason Watkins (ITV's The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies). 

'I also congratulate James Nesbitt and Brendan O’Carroll on their nominations,' the Minister added. 'Although they did not take home the awards on this occasion, their shortlisting is further proof of the considerable impact Irish artists continue to have on the industry.'

Last year, the University of Ulster Chancellor was voted one of the country's 'National Treasures' by the National Lottery's Good Causes initiative.