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Tributes to Kirkbride at TV awards

Late Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride took centre stage at the National Television Awards as colleagues and rivals paid tribute - despite the ITV show leaving empty handed.

The star's screen husband William Roache - who worked alongside her for 40 years - declared "I love you Anne" after speaking warmly of his "vibrant, warm-hearted, loving" colleague in a speech that left many in tears.

And as EastEnders beat Corrie to the best soap prize - one of three awards to head to Walford - actor Adam Woodyatt said his show would be nothing without its ITV competitor.

In reference to a celebrated storyline in which Kirkbride's character Deirdre was wrongly jailed, Woodyatt (who plays Ian Beale) said: "If you don't mind, we'd like to accept this for the Weatherfield One."

Other winners at the annual ceremony staged at London's O2 Arena included Broadchurch and former Doctor Who star David Tennant getting the special recognition award.

Ant and Dec were double winners as they took the best entertainment presenter prize for the 14th successive year, while their series I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! landed the best entertainment programme trophy - beating another of their shows Saturday Night Takeaway.

Actress Sheridan Smith landed the best drama performance prize, but failed make it to the ceremony on time after her taxi got stuck in traffic en route, causing her to turn up late with an apology.

And In a shock result, despite trailing in the ratings last year, The X Factor beat Strictly Come Dancing to the best talent show prize.

But it was the death of Kirkbride on Monday which cast a long shadow. Street colleagues including Barbara Knox and Sally Dynevor attended the ceremony despite still grieving, and just a day after filming on the soap was abandoned as the cast came to terms with their loss.

Roache, standing beneath a huge image of Kirkbride's face, told guests from the TV world: "I feel so blessed, honoured and privileged to have had those years working with Anne.

"What we'll remember the most is the vibrant, warm-hearted, loving person who came to work each day, gave us all a hug and brightened up our lives.

"Together with Anne's brother John and his family, David, and her Coronation Street family, and especially Beverley Callard - who was very close to Anne in her last days - we've been deeply touched by the outpouring of love for Anne since she passed away on Monday evening."

His voice trembling with emotion, he said: "We share your grief and sadness at losing such a beautiful person who'll be so greatly missed by us all."

He added: "I love you, Anne. Thank you."

Woodyatt, collecting the top soap prize for EastEnders, acknowledged the key role of its TV rival.

He said: "I'd like to say a big thank you to Coronation Street because without you there would be no EastEnders. There would be no Phil and Ian, no Mick and Linda, no Kat and Alfie, without your enduring characters like Ken and Deirdre."

Walford had further success when actress Maddy Hill - who plays Nancy Carter - took the best newcomer prize.

Her screen father Danny Dyer took the prize for best soap actor for his portrayal of Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter, a role he has now had for a year, beating his screen wife who is played by Kellie Bright.

Picking up his trophy, the no-nonsense and often foul-mouthed actor reminded himself: "Don't swear, don't swear, don't swear.

"It's bittersweet really because I think Kel deserved this to be fair. She's been brilliant. So Kel, I'll have it Monday to Wednesday, you have it Thursday and Friday and I'll have it at the weekend."

Thanking the team from the Walford soap, he said: "They took me in, they embraced me and I love you for it. It's a tough gig, but I'm loving every second of it."

Ant and Dec said they had expected their unbroken run of success as best entertainment presenters at the awards could have come to an end at the latest NTAs.

Anthony McPartlin said: "I honestly didn't think we would win. I thought it had to come to an end and I thought it would be tonight. Thank God it wasn't.

And after the ceremony he joked: "Normally they give us one award each but this year we only got one. So the budget must be less."

Sheridan Smith beat figures such as Dame Maggie Smith, Sarah Lancashire and Benedict Cumberbatch to take the drama performance award.

But due to traffic problems, despite leaving the set of her latest programme Inside Number Nine with plenty of time in hand, she arrived half an hour after her award was announced, eventually arriving on stage to tell the audience: "I'm so sorry."

And she said backstage: "I was crying at the back of the car. I've been filming since four so I could finish early. I got stuck in traffic. There was an oil slick or something. I got a phone call from my producer.

"My mum is livid because she really wanted to be on camera if I won. This means so much because it was voted for by the public and that's why we do it, isn't it? This means the world. I didn't think anyone would vote."

The Great British Bake Off took the newly introduced "skills challenge" award, while Mrs Brown's Boys took the comedy trophy, with star and creator Brendan O'Carroll joking: "I'd like to thank Ant and Dec for not doing comedy or sitcom."

This Morning took best daytime show with presenter Ruth Langsford saying: "To win this for four consecutive years is unbelievable. Thank you so much."

David Walliams was awarded the prize for best TV talent show judge, but was unable to attend so left his Britain's Got Talent colleague Simon Cowell to pick up the prize.

Reading out a message from the winner, Cowell said: "I don't deserve this award. I have the pleasure of sitting next to one of the most good-looking powerful men in the music business - I would like to give this award to Simon Cowell."

However Cowell was later up to collect an award of his own when The X Factor took the talent show prize. Viewers of the ceremony were able to see Strictly host Claudia Winkleman mouth the word "what?" when her BBC1 show was beaten to the prize.

Comic Alan Carr took the public vote for best chat show host and Lenny Henry took the Landmark Award to recognise the contribution of Comic Relief, the charity he co-founded and which has raised around £950 million in 30 years.

Tennant looked amazed to be given the special recognition prize, and joked: "I'm so glad I didn't get stuck in traffic. This is an out-of-body experience.

"I grew up loving the telly so the fact that I get to make part of my living from it, I have to pinch myself about it. And to get prizes for it does not compute."

Channel 4 phenomenon Gogglebox took the best factual title, while period series Downton Abbey triumphed over Sherlock, Cilla and Doctor Who to pick up the best drama award.

Downton creator Julian Fellowes said: "To receive this award after the fifth series is the greatest compliment we could imagine."


From Belfast Telegraph