Atkins top Brit TV actress

She wins BAFTA for 'Cranford'

It's the biggest night of the year for British television, and the stars of the small screen streamed up the red carpet Sunday to London's Palladium theater to celebrate winning shows that ran the gamut from classic costume drama to hard-hitting contemporary fiction.

Winning her first BAFTA award at age 73, Eileen Atkins edged Judi Dench in the best actress category for her performance in the BBC1 drama "Cranford," about the changes to small-time village life after the construction of the railways.

Andrew Garfield, who portrayed a juvenile child-killer haunted by his actions in Channel 4's "Boy A," was named best actor.

It was a strong night for Channel 4 with eight awards, while BBC1 garnered five. But it was a disappointing evening for ITV, BBC 3 and Sky One, with just one award each. BBC 2 had two wins.

The NBC Universal drama "Heroes" was named best international show, while Peter Kosminsky's "Britz," about young Muslims in Britain, was named best drama serial.

The star-studded night included awards presented by John Hurt, Keeley Hawes, Simon Pegg and Patrick Duffy.

It was a good night for comedy performer Harry Hill, who claimed double honors in the entertainment program and entertainment performance category, while James Corden took the prize for best comedy performance for "Gavin and Stacey," which also won the show the Sky+ audience award, the only nod voted for by the public.

Among the 13 first-time winners were hospital saga "Holby City," which won the hard-fought best soap category, while "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" was named best feature and guerilla phone-comedy "Fonejacker" was named best comedy show. "Peep Show" picked up the coveted BAFTA mask for sitcom.

Depicting the harsh realities of war, the Iraq drama "The Mark of Cain" was awarded best single drama while Jimmy McGovern's poignant drama "The Street" took best drama series for the second year in a row.

"The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities" was named best factual series, "The History of Modern Britain" was best specialist factual while "China's Lost Children" was named best current affairs program.

Sky News took the best news coverage award while the ITV1 took best sport nod for its Formula One racing coverage.

Special awards were given to documentary filmmaker Paul Watson and veteran light entertainment presenter Bruce Forsyth.