Life just keeps getting better for Portadown costume designer Caroline McCall, who received a BAFTA craft and design award in London’s Hilton Hotel on Monday night.
Against the stiffest of opposition, Caroline’s name was read out by Wumni Mosaku, from the TV series ‘Vera’ and the film ‘Philomena’.
There were four nominations – Annie Symons for ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ (Fox); Suzanne Cave for ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ (BBC Wales and America); Lucinda Wright for ‘The Murder of Angel Lane’ (Hat Trick Productions); and Caroline McCall, ‘Downton Abbey’ (ITV).
In her acceptance speech – in a Portadown accent that has changed little – Caroline thanked everyone associated with the costumes in the fourth series of ‘Downton’ where she was the chief designer – everyone from her assistant designers to the manufacturing team. “And, of course, the stars were a delight to dress,” she added.
In the backroom interview with host Jenny Falconer, she said she was shocked and delighted, “wondering what I was doing up there on the stage and that I really shouldn’t be there”.
She added, “It was a real challenge designing dresses for the period (the 1920s) as there aren’t all that many left these days from that era. This is a childhood dream job.” She added that to think of the millions around the world who watch the TV blockbuster and the styles, “would be debilitating – you just have to serve the cast, the characters, and do your job”.
Caroline’s sister Sheila Hughes came down from her home in Edinburgh to attend the ceremony. “We were both honoured that I had been nominated,” said Caroline. “But to win a BAFTA, and share the moment with Sheila, was wonderful, We were delighted.”
On her own outfit for the special night, she said, “I just bought it from a local shop - I liked it and that’s what matters!”
It’s the latest, and most high profile award that Caroline (35) has won for her work on Downton, starting three years ago when she – and then chief designer Susanna Buxton - won Emmys for series one.
Both women stepped down from Downton’s series two, after which Caroline was appointed chief designer for series three and four. And for the past two years running, she won the American Costumes Design Guild Award for her work on the series.
With Downton Five already confirmed, Caroline is moving on. She is currently working on a BBC series, yet to be announced, but which concentrates on the contemporary scene, and will present a new challenge to the ex-Portadown College student.
Caroline’s pre-Downton CV includes TV’s Doctor Who and Little Dorrit, and designing the costumes for the crowd scenes in the Liam Neeson film Clash of the Titans 2 , as well as working on Hyde Park on Hudson, about President Franklin D Roosevelt.