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Sunday, 17 December, 2000, 01:11 GMT
Aherne in awards heckling row
The Royle Family
Caroline Aherne co-writes the hit series
Royle Family writer Caroline Aherne was at the centre of controversy when she heckled Sir Nigel Hawthorne during the British Comedy Awards.

Sir Nigel was collecting the lifetime achievement award on behalf of Alan Bennett when Aherne shouted: "Get on with it."

He stopped his speech and replied: "Would you like to do this yourself madam? I'm not speaking for myself you understand."

Caroline Aherne as Denise
Aherne plays Denise Royle
The show's host, Jonathan Ross, apologised to Sir Nigel. "Not all of us can handle the drink my friend, although normally she can," he said.

After the award ceremony Sir Nigel said he had been "horrified" by the heckling.

Aherne is known to have been fighting a drink problem.

Veteran comedienne Victoria Wood picked up two prizes at the awards, as did ITV series Cold Feet.

Dinnerladies honour

Ms Wood won the writer of the year award while her comedy Dinnerladies won the best comedy category.

For the second year running Cold Feet was named best TV comedy drama. Leading cast member James Nesbitt added to the honours with the award for best comedy actor.

Sue Johnston from the BBC One sitcom, The Royle Family, won best TV comedy actress and Graham Norton was named best TV comedy personality.

Sue Johnston
Sue Johnston is the latest Royle to get an award
Receiving her award she paid tribute to Caroline Aherne for showing "such remarkable talent".

She said she had never considered herself to be a comedy actress, and so the award was all the more amazing.

"I have made people cry most of my career, to be nominated against Victoria Wood and Kathy Burke and to win is just amazing," she said.

Stand-up award

Best comedy newcomer was won by Rob Brydon from BBC Two's Marion & Geoff and Sean Lock picked up the best live stand-up award.

The best new TV comedy was Channel Four's That Peter Kay Thing and the best comedy entertainment programme was awarded to Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, shown on BBC One.

Best comedy film went to East is East, while The Simpsons won the best international TV show award.

Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross hosted the awards
People's Award Choice was decided by a live telephone poll made during the awards ceremony.

The accolade went to ITV's SM:tv Live, which was nominated alongside Channel Four's spoof presenter Ali G and The Royle Family.

A total of 14 awards in total were presented during the event at London Television Centre, which was hosted by Jonathan Ross.

Celebrities in the audience included Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, Jack Dee and Jean Simmons.

Recognising the best

The aim of the awards, now in their 11th year, is to recognise the best of British comedy and film making.

It is not the first time Ms Wood - who was discovered 25 years ago when she beat Lenny Henry to win the ITV talent show New Faces - has gained such recognition from the British Comedy Awards.

She won Top Stand-up Live Comedy Performer in 1990 and Top Female Comedy Performer in 1995.

At last year's awards The Royle Family swept the board, winning four titles including best actress for its star and Caroline Aherne.

The show also won best TV sitcom, Ricky Tomlinson, who plays dad Jim, was named best actor and Jessica Stevenson, who plays a family friend, took the female newcomer award.

This year it was nominated for three awards.

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