Welsh star Joanna Scanlan named top actress at Bafta film awards for role in After Love

Joanna Scanlan was awarded Leading Actress for her role in After Love. Credit: PA Images

Welsh star Joanna Scanlan has been named top actress at the Bafta film awards for her role in the film drama After Love.

She plays the part of Mary Hussain, an English Muslim convert who discovers her late husband's secret family after his unexpected death.

The 60-year-old was up against big names including Lady Gaga, for her role in House of Gucci, and Alana Haim, who starred in Licorice Pizza, which won best original screenplay.

In her acceptance speech, Scanlan thanked Bafta in Welsh, having grown up in Ruthin.

She moved there from the Wirral when she was three years old and considers herself to be Welsh and to "have lived a Welsh life".

She said: "Diolch yn fawr iawn as we say in my country! Bafta thank you so much - some stories have surprising endings, don't they?"

She went on to thank the film's writer and director Aleem Khan, the crew of the film, and said the film was made with "extreme love, blood, sweat and tears."

Scanlan spent her 1970s childhood at the Castle Hotel in Ruthin, which she described as like "growing up in a real-life Fawlty Towers".

She was living in the Vale of Clwyd when her father bought the venue.

In a previous interview with The Sunday Times, she said: "I was about 12 and quickly realised my parents were not the kind of people who ought to be running a hotel.

"My mother point blank refused to have anything to do with it.

"My father... Well, let's just say he wasn't really a people person. His favourite time was when the hotel had no guests.

"My world became a sort of real-life Fawlty Towers."

Scanlan has been starring alongside Bradley Walsh in the ITV comedy drama series The Larkins. Credit: ITV

Educated in Denbigh before going to Cambridge, Scanlan said it was the hotel that unearthed her inner actress.

She is known for her roles in productions including The Thick of It, The Other Boleyn Girl and Bridget Jones's Baby and is currently starring alongside Bradley Walsh in the TV show The Larkins.

She was not the only Welsh name to impress, with Dame Shirley Bassey wowing the audience with a performance of 'Diamonds Are Forever'.

Singer Emilia Jones, daughter of singer Aled Jones, reduced viewers to tears with her emotional performance of 'Both Sides Now', where she was joined by two sign language interpreters.

She was nominated as leading actress for her role in CODA, in which she plays the only hearing member of a deaf family. The film won best adapted screenplay.

Elsewhere, Will Smith won the leading actor award, while No Time To Die actress Lashana Lynch was crowned EE rising star.

The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, won best film, while sci-fi blockbuster Dune also collected a string of gongs.