Belfast Telegraph

Gala night out for Christine Bleakley, minus Frank Lampard, as Royal Television Society bash salutes best Northern Ireland talent

By Laura Abernethy

Frank Lampard was left home alone as fiancee Christine Bleakley hit the red carpet last night with her little sister for a birthday treat at a glitzy awards ceremony.

The glamorous local girl turned national celebrity was the special guest as stars of the small screen came together for the first Royal Television Society (RTS) Northern Ireland Programme Awards.

<< scroll down for a full list of finalists and winners >>

More than 200 people from Northern Ireland's growing TV industry glided up the red carpet that was rolled out in front of Belfast's Mac arts centre.

Familiar faces including UTV presenters Paul Clarke, Marc Mallet and Rose Neill took to the stage to collect the award for UTV Live Tonight, and many other industry professionals were honoured for their work behind the scenes.

The surprise of the night came when The Fall, starring Jamie Dornan, lost out to fellow cop series Line of Duty in the best drama category.

Christine was the centre of attention in the front row as she caught up with old friends and enjoyed her sister Nicola's birthday, before presenting the final trophy of the night.

Richard Williams from NI Screen received a standing ovation after she handed him the RTS NI Judges' Award in recognition for his work in bringing major studios such as Universal and Game of Thrones producers HBO to Northern Ireland.

Christine said: "It's always brilliant coming home, especially on my sister's birthday. It's wonderful to be in a room full of people that I have worked with for years. It's like a major catch-up."

While the presenter from Newtownards missed out to Brave New World: New Zealand in the Factual Series category - DoubleBand Films' second award of the evening - she still threw her support behind the inaugural awards.

Christine said: "It's lovely to see people getting recognised for their work, particularly here in Northern Ireland.

"The RTS is such a huge brand, and it's important that we have more events like this. Northern Ireland is full of talent and it's important to show that."

The TV star was reunited with her fellow Strictly contestant John Sergeant as the host of the awards, with the veteran broadcaster and renowned journalist announcing the nine winners to a hugely excited crowd.

He said: "Northern Ireland means a lot to me. I cut my teeth here as a BBC reporter nearly 45 years ago. It's great to be here again tonight.

"The success of Northern Ireland's media industry is demonstrated by the fact over 60 entries were received for these awards."

Kieran Doherty, chairman of the RTS NI Awards Committee, said: "In recent years, Northern Ireland has established itself as an exciting new centre of creativity, and we felt it was only right to showcase and celebrate the extraordinary quality and diversity of work being produced right on our doorsteps. I am thrilled that the first RTS Programme Awards for NI have been such a success."

RTS Chief Executive Theresa Wise added: "I'm so excited to be here. There's a buzz here and there's so much to celebrate. It's great to celebrate many of the shows I know, but also to see some things I haven't come across.

"One of the most important things is recognition. Our industry needs people to become aware of the talent, and awards like these really help."

The finalists and winners

Comedy and Entertainment   

Alleycats TV: Keepin Er Country

Flickerpix: On The Air (WINNER)

Green Inc Film & Television: Monumental

Factual Series

DoubleBand Films: Brave New World - New Zealand (WINNER)

360 Production: Ireland's Great War

Big Mountain Productions: Wild Ireland

Single Documentary    

Big Mountain Productions: Addicts' Symphony

DoubleBand Films: The Man Who Shot The Great War

DoubleBand Films: ROAD (WINNER)

Current Affairs

BBC Northern Ireland: BBC Newsline - The Education Divide

BBC Northern Ireland: Spotlight: Public Figures Part 1

BBC Northern Ireland: Spotlight: A Woman Alone with the IRA (WINNER)

News Coverage    

UTV: UTV Live Tonight (WINNER)

BBC Northern Ireland: BBC Newsline - The Death of Ian Paisley

BBC Northern Ireland: BBC Newsline - The Gay Cake Verdict         


Hardy Pictures: 37 Days

World Productions Ltd: Line of Duty - Series 2 (WINNER)

The Fall 2 Limited: The Fall  - Series 2, episode 3

Children’s and /or Animation

Flickerpix Ltd: Five Fables

Sixteen South Limited: Lily's Driftwood Bay

Dog Ears: Puffin Rock (WINNER)

International Production

Sideline Productions: Secrets of Great British Castles

Waddell Media: Hitler's Hidden Drug Habit (WINNER)

Tile Films: War of the Three Kings

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