German TV Awards Overshadowed by Comedian's Death

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COLOGNE, Germany – The 12th German Television Awards, Germany's highest small-screen honor, were a sombre event Tuesday night. The annual celebration of the best in German TV was overshadowed by mourning for TV star, comedian and on-air presenter Dirk Bach, who died suddenly of a heart attack a day earlier. Oliver Welke, who hosted the awards, paid tribute to Bach, who starred in several hit sitcoms and hosted numerous entertainment shows, including I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

"He also hosted the Television Awards and was the best dressed host ever,” Welke said, a reference to 2002, when Bach hosted the German version of the Emmys dressed in an identical evening gown to his co-host Sandra Maischberger. Welke called the short, rotund comedian “without doubt the greatest small, fat actor of all time.”

Several guests at this year's Awards wore stickers with a picture of the late actor with the words “Danke Dirk” on them.

The actual awards were dominated, once again, by Germany's public broadcasters, who walked away with the bulk of the night's prizes.

The Best TV Movie honor went to the legal drama Das Ende einer Nacht (The End of Night) from public channel ZDF with leads Barbara Auer and Ina Weisse sharing the best actress award. Der Mann mit dem Fagott (The Man with the Basson), based on the life of German singer Udo Jurgens, from Germany's ARD and Austrian public network ORF, took the best mini-series nod. Best actor went to Wotan Wilke Mohring for his starring role in the TV movie Der letzte schone Tag (The last beautiful Day) from German pubwebs ARD and WDR.

The one major upset for the commercial channels at this year's awards was in the best series category, where Sat.1's police procedural Der letzte Bulle (The Last Cop) beat out ZDF's opulent period drama Borgia. The series stars actors Henning Baum as a macho cop from the 80s who wakes from a 20-year-coma and struggles to adjust to the modern world. A hit at home, the Der letzte Bulle has also sold successfully to several territories, including France, a rarity for a German fictional series.

One area were commercial networks were dominant was in the entertainment and reality categories. Song competition show The Voice of Germany from Pro7 and Sat.1 took best entertainment show while Knallerfrauen, a sketch comedy show from Sat.1, won the in best comedy category. Commercial channel Vox took its sole trophy for multi-generational music format Cover my Song, which won the best factual entertainment prize.

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