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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
EastEnders takes narrow soap win
June Brown

EastEnders has beaten arch-rival Coronation Street to the title of best soap at the Inside Soap awards.

Each series won six awards, including the best actress prize for EastEnders' June Brown, who plays Dot Branning.

BBC One's EastEnders took the top prize for the fourth year running, with just 2% more of the readers' votes.

But Coronation Street actor Andrew Whyment criticised EastEnders' win. He said: "They have lost so many viewers I can't understand why it won."

Ratings fall

"I think it's a disgrace," added Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland in the soap and won the funniest character award. "We've been brilliant this year and we deserved to win."

Suranne Jones, who won the "sexiest female" title for playing Coronation Street's Karen McDonald, said she was "shocked" by EastEnders' victory.

Suranne Jones
Coronation Street actress Suranne Jones was named "sexiest female"
"We've had some great storylines and we've really tried hard," she said. "We are right up there at the moment and I'm really surprised at the result."

Last week EastEnders' ratings fell to 6.2 million, among the lowest in its 19-year history, one day after executive producer Louise Berridge quit the soap.

But ratings rose to 10.1 million for Thursday night's episode - a 49% audience share.

'Toughest contest'

"This year the contest was tougher than ever, proving that British soaps are going from strength to strength with each passing year," said Inside Soap magazine editor Steven Murphy.

A gay kiss between Coronation Street characters Todd and Karl, played by Bruno Langley and Chris Finch, won the "best snog" award for the ITV soap.

Bruno Langley
Langley's character Todd provided Coronation Street's first gay kiss
There was also an outstanding achievement award for Sue Nicholls, who plays the show's Audrey Roberts.

Actors Nigel Harman (who plays Dennis Rickman in EastEnders) and Sam Aston (Chesney Brown in Coronation Street) took two awards each at the London event on Monday.

Harman was named best actor and sexiest male, while Aston won the best young actor and best newcomer prizes.

EastEnders' Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace were crowned soap's best couple as Kat and Alfie Moon.

Coronation Street's Tracy Barlow and Steve McDonald baby secret plot earned the best storyline award.

The Bill and Emmerdale were the only other soap operas to win prizes.

Police soap The Bill took the best drama award, while Emmerdale's Cain Dingle, played by Jeff Hordley, was named "best bad guy".

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