Gervais scoops an Emmy for 'Extras'
Ricky Gervais has cemented his reputation as one of Britain's most successful comedy exports by scooping a coveted Emmy Award for his sitcom, Extras.
Gervais, who has already earned a huge American following with his television series The Office, was hailed as "best actor in a comedy" for his role as a fortysomething aspiring thespian who gives up his day job to pursue movie stardom. The sitcom was broadcast on HBO.
Gervais beat the shortlisted actor Steve Carell, who plays David Brent in the American version of The Office. The win will serve to silence Gervais's critics who have recently complained of his over-exposure and apparently poor performances in shows over the summer.
His victory is all the more noteworthy because he featured in a shortlist alongside Hollywood heavyweights such as Alec Baldwin for his role in 30 Rock and Martin Sheen, for Two And A Half Men, as well as Tony Shalhoub, the recipient of three Emmys for his show Monk.
Gervais, who was absent from the Los Angeles ceremony, was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall and learnt of his win later, saying: "I was gutted not to be there because there's a level of spectacle that's a bit higher than some ceremonies we have over here." It was Gervais's first Emmy, although The Office won two Golden Globes in 2004.
Maintaining the success of British artists, Helen Mirren picked up the best actress award for her role in Prime Suspect: The Final Act. It was her fourth Emmy for best actress, capping a hugely successful year in which she has won an Oscar, a Bafta and two Golden Globes. "It was a pretty amazing year to have later on in one's life," she said as she collected her award. "It's very gratifying. You Americans are wonderfully generous people. You are a lot of other things as well. Some good, some bad."
Al Gore received a standing ovation for Current, his television channel that features viewer-created videos, and he was honoured for achievement in interactive television. The channel follows the success of his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, warning of the dangers of global warming and he said his latest endeavour was merely a continuation of the "democratic" process.
"We are trying to open up the television medium so viewers can help to make television and join the conversation of democracy, and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make," he said.
A standing ovation greeted the cast of The Sopranos, who gathered on stage after the drama had claimed honours for best writing and directing.
Regarded as one of the best series ever seen on television, the mob drama aired its final show in June. Its creator, David Chase, summed up the essence of the series by saying: "This is a story about a gangster. And gangsters are out there taking their kids to college and taking their kids to school, and putting food on their table."
Since its debut in 1999, the series has been nominated for best drama seven times, winning twice, making it the first television show to get a repeat award.
Drama series: The Sopranos
Comedy series: 30 Rock
Mini-series: Broken Trail
Variety, music or comedy series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Variety, music or comedy special: Tony Bennett: An American Classic
Made-for-TV movie: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Reality competition programme: The Amazing Race
Creative achievement in interactive TV: Current
Actor, drama series: James Spader, Boston Legal
Actor, comedy series: Ricky Gervais, Extras
Actor, mini-series or movie: Robert Duvall, Broken Trail
Actress, drama Series: Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Actress, comedy series: America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Actress, min-iseries or movie: Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act
Supporting actor, drama series: Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Supporting actor, comedy series: Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Supporting actor, mini-series or movie: Thomas Haden Church, Broken Trail
Supporting actress, drama series: Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy
Supporting actress, comedy series: Jaime Pressly, My Name Is Earl
Supporting actress, mini-series or movie: Judy Davis, The Starter Wife
Individual performance, variety or music programme: Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett: An American Classic
Directing, drama series: The Sopranos, Kennedy and Heidi, HBO.
Directing, comedy series: Ugly Betty: Pilot
Directing, mini-series, movie or dramatic special: Prime Suspect: The Final Act
Directing, variety, music or comedy programme: Tony Bennett: An American Classic
Writing for a drama series: The Sopranos, Made in America
Writing, comedy series: The Office: Gay Witch Hunt
Writing, mini-series, movie or dramatic special: Prime Suspect: The Final Act
Writing for a variety, music or comedy programme: Late Night with Conan O'Brien