'Downton Abbey,' 'X Factor' Among Britain's National Television Awards Winners

Downton Abbey Season 5 - H 2015
Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014

Downton Abbey Season 5 - H 2015

The honors were handed out in a star-studded ceremony at the O2 Arena in London, with David Tennant getting a special recognition.

Downton Abbey, X Factor and its creator Simon Cowell were among the winners at Britain's National Television Awards in London on Wednesday night.

The winners were decided in a vote by the public and handed out at London's O2 Arena during an awards show hosted by X Factor U.K. host Dermot O'Leary.

Unlike the BAFTAs and other U.K. awards, the National Television Awards, first handed out in 1995, allow foreign shows to be nominated as long as they air on a British network. The awards show airs on ITV.

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In the best drama category, the nominees were Doctor Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Cilla, which looked at the 1960s rise of singer-turned-TV host Cilla Black. The trophy went to Downton Abbey.

The drama performance category was fought out by Benedict Cumberbatch for his work in Sherlock, Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey, Sarah Lancashire for Happy Valley and Cilla star Sheridan Smith who won the award. Peter Capaldi became the first Doctor Who lead since the BBC rebooted the hit sci-fi hit show in 2005 not to get a nomination in the category.

Last year, Doctor Who triumphed, with then-lead Matt Smith winning the best performance award.

In the new multi-channel category, the nominees were Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, MTV reality hit Geordie Shore and comedy quiz panel show Celebrity Juice, which won the award. Kris Jenner handed over the award.

The best comedy nominees were The Big Bang Theory and British hits Mrs Brown's Boys, Benidorm and Outnumbered. The award went to Mrs Brown's Boys.

Cowell's U.K. edition of The X Factor on ITV beat out his Britain's Got Talent, also on ITV, and the BBC's The Voice and Strictly Come Dancing to win the honor for the best talent show. Said Cowell in accepting the trophy: "Well, thank god for that."

In another closely followed category for the best TV judge, X Factor U.K. judges Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini competed with Mary Berry of The Great British Bake Off and Britain's Got Talent's David Walliams. The winner: Walliams, who wasn't present. His show partner Cowell went on stage to accept the award for him, saying: "David, I'm thrilled for you.‎"

A surprise special recognition went to former Doctor Who star and Broadchurch actor‎ David Tennant.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai