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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 08:13 GMT
BBC Two dominates TV awards
Johnny Vegas
Vegas became well-known for advertising ITV Digital
BBC Two has scooped eight honours at the Royal Television Society programme awards - two of them for new comedies - with BBC One picking up five.

Comic Johnny Vegas picked up the best newcomer award for his role in BBC Two's Happiness.

Ant and Dec
Ant and Dec: Rewarded for past success
Ricky Gervais' creation The Office won best comedy for BBC Two, but failed to pick up a best actor award for the comedian.

And the station's hit drama Perfect Strangers picked up two awards - for best serial and best writer award, accepted by creator Stephen Poliakoff.

Mr Poliakoff's drama, which centres on a family reunion, has also been shortlisted for three awards in this year's Bafta ceremony.

Stand-up

"I think it's great that a piece of drama like this can win and with the Bafta nominations it's been a good night all round," said Mr Poliakoff.

Johnny Vegas's success has come after years spent on the stand-up circuit.

The rotund northern comic said: "The nominations showed a fat bloke getting out of bed and I truly didn't think I was going to win.

Diane Parish
Diane Parish: An award for Babyfather
"I guess, because I am not an actor, I am one of those who will do all the stuff no trained actor will do and they think, 'Let's get him now before he gets any pride'."

After a long acceptance speech Mr Vegas offered to stay on stage and help compère Graham Norton host the rest of the night.

Other BBC Two winners included arts programme Arena, natural history documentary Congo and a best actress award for Diane Parish in Babyfather.

BBC One's successes included Alistair McGowan, who picked up an award for the best entertainment performance for his Big Impression comedy show, and David Suchet who took best actor for costume drama The Way We Live Now.

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais: Best comedy, but no best actor award
EastEnders beat Doctors and Hollyoaks to win the soap opera award - though the category short-list was criticised for leaving out Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

Channel 4 won five awards, including an entertainment gong for off-the-wall betting show Banzai.

ITV's three awards included one for Ant and Dec's performance on SM:tv Live - a programme the duo have since left.

The awards ceremony was held at London's Grosvenor House hotel on Tuesday evening.

See also:

20 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
RTS 2002: The winners
19 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
Bafta TV Awards 2002: The Nominees
26 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Granada condemns 'soap snub'
10 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Soaps battle in TV showdown
21 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Royal honour for TV's first family
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