Philomena wins Bafta for best adapted screenplay

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena Steve Coogan and Judi Dench star in Philomena, which Coogan also co-wrote

Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope walked away from the Bafta Film Awards with the prize for best adapted screenplay for BBC Films' Philomena.

Coogan and Pope emerged victorious from a highly competitive field that included some of the year's big-hitters such as 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street.

The BBC Films production follows the true story of an Irish woman - portrayed by Dame Judi Dench - searching for her son after he's forcibly adopted and taken to the United States. She's helped in her mission by journalist Martin Sixsmith, played by Coogan himself.

Sixsmith, whose account of the search formed the basis of the adaptation, is a former BBC foreign correspondent who later acted as an adviser on BBC comedy series The Thick of It and as presenter on several Radio 4 documentaries.

Coogan paid tribute in his acceptance speech to the 'real Philomena Lee', who was in attendance at the ceremony at London's Royal Opera House.

He added: 'Her story has been told and her story finished in the Vatican. She has been heard but there are 60,000 other women who have yet to trace their children, and their story isn't over.'

Coogan also paid tribute to his co-star Dench, who he'd 'fallen in love with' over the course of filming.

The win is a timely confidence boost ahead of next month's Oscars, with Philomena nominated for four awards at the prestigious event, including best picture.

Other BBC Films hopefuls missed out on any awards on Sunday despite arriving with a healthy total of 11 Bafta nominations. There were three more nods for Philomena and five for the Mary Poppins-inspired drama Saving Mr Banks, featuring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.

The Invisible Woman (nominated for costume design) and Good Vibrations (outstanding debut for a British writer, director or producer) were the other two BBC Films productions to have received recognition.

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