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Last Updated: Monday, 8 May 2006, 01:42 GMT 02:42 UK
The humble winners of Bafta night
Kevin Young
BBC News entertainment reporter

Noel Edmonds and his daughters Olivia, Lorna and Charlotte
Noel Edmonds had been so happy when he arrived at the awards
Bleak House, Doctor Who and The X-Factor were the major winners at the 2006 British Academy Television Awards, but much of the talk backstage was of the defeated nominees - with some politics thrown in.

In all honesty, it was hard not to feel sorry for Noel Edmonds.

The 57-year-old looked stunned as Friday Night with Jonathan Ross won the entertainment performance category, the award for which his comeback hit Deal or No Deal had been nominated.

He was like a contestant on the quiz who had been offered two red boxes containing 250,000 and 1p.

Unfortunately, Edmonds chose the latter.

Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross beat Edmonds to the entertainment performance award
It had been so different on the red carpet beforehand. "You won't talk to anyone tonight happier than me," Edmonds had said. This claim now seemed unlikely.

Strangely, Ross appeared almost uncomfortable to have beaten the veteran presenter, whom he had described in his acceptance speech as staging "the most surprising comeback since the BNP".

"I feel sad because I would like Noel to have won," Ross said.

"He does a tremendous job on Deal or No Deal. It's a great show anyway, it's a brilliant format, but he really brings that extra something to it."

On a similar theme, rising star Anna Maxwell Martin was humble after being named best actress ahead of her fellow Bleak House cast member Gillian Anderson.

She said she "didn't particularly want to beat Anderson", who had been "the most worthy of all of us in that particular category".

But there was no such modesty from the creator of political satire The Thick of It, Armando Iannucci.

Jules and Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver was worried about the effects of the Cabinet reshuffle
With his tongue firmly in his cheek, he said the series had won two Baftas because "it was quite good", and then revealed it would return for a Christmas special and a longer run next year.

He said he was inspired to write the series because "a lot of people feel very disconnected about how things happen in politics, and feel very frustrated seeing strange things happen".

Iannucci was not the only winner to criticise the government.

'Political football'

The director of The Government Inspector - Channel 4's Bafta-winning drama about the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly - also joined in.

"David Kelly was a victim of a game of political football played by the government in a crude and pointless battle with the BBC over weapons of mass destruction which, surprise surprise, didn't exist," said Peter Kosminsky.

"He was a good man and he didn't need to die."

Anna Maxwell Martin
Anna Maxwell Martin: "I've just felt very sweaty for the past hour"
And after Jamie's School Dinners won top factual series, chef Jamie Oliver - who lobbied politicians to fund better lunches for children - said he was frustrated that education secretary Ruth Kelly had been replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle.

"I'm a bit upset because I had just set up my latest meeting with her," he said.

"The day after I met [previous minister] Charles Clarke he got moved on. Then I got to know Ruth and she's got moved on. There's always a bloody excuse which is, 'I've just started'."

Red carpet excitement

The mood backstage was in total contrast to the glitter and buzz outside the Grosvenor House Hotel before the ceremony.

The red carpet was chaotic, with a traffic jam of A-list stars crammed together along a passageway that was too narrow to cope with so many guests at once.

The team behind The Thick of It
Armando Iannucci (centre) spoke of a lack of connection with politics
However, the close proximity to the stars was good news for 150 competition winners with ringside seats, who made the most of their big day out by chanting the names of their favourite stars while grabbing autographs and pictures.

Edmonds, Oliver, Esther Rantzen and The X-Factor's Simon Cowell all took time to chat and were cheered the loudest.

And if any of the crowd harboured dreams of a life in showbiz themselves, they should perhaps remember Anna Maxwell Martin's description of her evening, as she waited to be named best actress.

"I've just felt very sweaty for the past hour and I desperately needed the loo, so really that's what I was thinking. Then when they announced me, I went into a blind panic."

Few could begrudge her an award after that.

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