ITV tops BAFTA television awards


LONDON -- ITV triumphed Sunday night at the BAFTA television awards, taking seven of the channel awards, ahead of BBC1's five awards, BBC2's three, and Channel 4 and Sky One with two apiece.

The awards, sponsored by Pioneer, are the gala night in British television and were held at a glittering ceremony at the London Palladium in London's West End.

Comedian and actress Victoria Wood was a double winner on the night, taking the best actress prize in ITV1 World War II drama "Housewife 49," the screen adaptation of the diary of a Lancashire housewife during the blitz.

Wood, in her first TV drama role in more than a decade, beat competition from Anne-Marie Duff in "The Virgin Queen," Samantha Morton in "Longford" and Ruth Wilson in "Jane Eyre."

The diary-form drama, part of a creative resurgence for ITV1 under director of television Simon Shaps, also won the best single drama category after facing off competition from "Longford" and Sept. 11 drama "The Road to Guantanamo."

In the best actor category, Jim Broadbent's portrayal of the campaigning Labor peer Lord Longford in the Channel 4 drama "Longford" earned him the award. The film follows his attempts to secure release for 1970s child killer Myra Hindley.

In the entertainment performance category, Jonathan Ross took the prize for his BBC1 show "Friday Night With Jonathan Ross," triumphing for the second year running.

Another consecutive victor, ITV1's "The X Factor," scooped the entertainment category ahead of "Derren Brown: The Heist" and resurgent Saturday night shows "Dancing on Ice" and "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?"

The Pioneer audience award, voted on by the public, went to BBC1 '70s cop drama "Life on Mars."

In the hotly contested continuing drama category, which recognizes British soaps, BBC1's long-running drama "Casualty" beat ITV's "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale" and BBC1's "EastEnders."

The best drama series award went to Jimmy McGovern's "The Street," while ITV1 drama "See No Evil: The Moors Murders" was named best drama serial.

Best factual series was won by Sky One documentary series "Ross Kemp on Gangs," while the best interactive award went to Sky One's "Terry Pratchett's Hogfather," and the specialist factual went to "Nuremberg: Goering's Last Stand." The harrowing social documentary "Evicted" took home the prize in the single documentary category.

In the special awards category, "The Queen" producer Andy Harries was honored for a long career that includes highlights like "Cold Feet."

"This is an incredible honor, and I'm very grateful to the academy. I love television and the diversity of it, the extraordinary diversity of it and the challenges of it," he said.

"There are many more channels than there were years ago, but although there is very much more television, it is also true that there are fewer people responsible for it," he added. "I urge people in power to empower others; that is how television remains eclectic and diverse and relevant to all ages."

Actor-writer-comedian Ricky Gervais triumphed over co-star Stephen Merchant as well as Dawn French and Liz Smith to pick up his seventh BAFTA, this time in the comedy performance category for "Extras." In the comedy program category, "That Mitchell & Webb Look" picked up a BAFTA for its debut series, while the one-off "The Royle Family: Queen of Sheba" collected the award for best sitcom.

In the features category, "The Choir" beat competition from "Dragons' Den" and "The Apprentice," while ITV1's coverage of "F1: The Hungarian Grand Prix" earned the sports prize. "Granada Reports: Morecambe Bay," the ITV regional news report and documentary that covered the plight of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned while working as illegal immigrants, won the best news coverage award.

In the new international category, the HBO-produced "Entourage" provided ITV2 with its first BAFTA win.

As previously announced, screenwriter Richard Curtis was awarded the academy fellowship in recognition of a career that has spanned such hits as "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Love Actually," "Blackadder" and "The Vicar of Dibley."