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BBC calls Paul Mescal British and receives hundreds of complaints

The BBC has apologised after receiving over 600 complaints because they called Oscar-nominated actor Paul Mescal British instead of Irish.

Paul Mescal in Aftersun

During its coverage of the Oscar nominations, the BBC got over-eager while bigging-up the British nominees, and claimed Paul Mescal – who is Irish. 2023 is a banner year for Irish nominees in the major categories – all four main cast-members of The Banshees of Inisherin were nominated, as well as The Quiet Girl in Best International Feature Film.

One person that the BBC could claim is Banshees writer and director Martin McDonagh, who was born and raised in London – despite everyone assuming he’s Irish. Mescal has had a meteoric rise to fame – he was nominated for an Emmy for his first ever lead role in a TV series – Normal People.

Mescal has only appeared in three movies – in total – so far. He had a supporting role in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, and co-starred with Emily Watson in A24 movie God’s Creatures. He has now been nominated for Best Lead Actor in another A24 movie – Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun. It was while they were covering this that the BBC mistakenly called Mescal British. Mescal was born in Maynooth, County Kildare and studied acting at Trinity College, Dublin – which is where most of Normal People is set.

According to Deadline, the BBC broadcast a chyron at the bottom of the screen which read; “2023 Oscar nominations: British actors Paul Mescal and Bill Nighy are nominated for leading role.” Bill Nighy was nominated for his role in Living, and our review called his performance “heartbreaking.” After receiving 605 complaints, the BBC apologised for the error regarding Mescal; “The text should have said that Paul Mescal is Irish. We apologise for the mistake.”

Our Aftersun review praised “Mescal’s ability to act not just as someone with depression, but someone whose trying to hide that they have depression.” Mescal’s character in Normal People was also struggling with anxiety and depression – but in that he’s a teenager and young adult trying to navigate a relationship with someone his own age. In Aftersun, Mescal plays a young father of an 11-year-old girl, so therefore must put on much more of a front regarding what he’s really going through.

It’s astonishing that Mescal convincingly played a 16-year-old at the start of Normal People, and a 30-year-old in Aftersun so close together. He is clearly at the start of a very exciting career. For more stunning performances, check out our guide to the best drama movies.