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Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Published at 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK


Dame Thora takes top award

Dame Thora Hird with Ray Winstone at the RTS Awards

Dame Thora Hird is celebrating after being named Television Actress of the Year for her performances in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads series.

The Royal Television Society gave Dame Thora, 87, a standing ovation at its annual awards ceremony in London after the jury commended "her rich combination of humour and pathos" in the BBC programme.

Sitting in her seat as those around her applauded, Dame Thora said: "I bet I am the oldest in this room. Eighty-seven, not bad eh?"

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough was named Presenter of the Year for Life of Birds on BBC One.

The awards ceremony's host, talk show presenter Trisha Goddard, joked: "That's an understandably popular choice - a mature television presenter getting an award for chasing birds."

Father Ted star remembered

[ image: Chris Tarrant: A Millionaire winner]
Chris Tarrant: A Millionaire winner
Among the other awards, the Channel 4 comedy Father Ted was given a special award as a mark of respect to its much-loved star Dermot Morgan, who died following completion of the third series.

Speaking for the judges, Sir Jeremy Isaacs said: "Believable but surreal, warm but edgy, funny but sometimes serious, this was a truly brilliant series."

ITV's drama A Life For A Life took two awards with both actor Tony Maudsley and writer Peter Berry praised.

BBC Two's Asian comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me was named team performance of the year while the best entertainment series gong went to the hit ITV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, praised as a "real television event".

Host Chris Tarrant couldn't resist a dig at the BBC over the programme's spectacular success, quipping: "I spent a brief period at the BBC, and I am delighted to be stuffing them completely."

But BBC shows dominated the awards - with eight awards going to BBC Two programmes, seven to BBC One and three to regional productions, with ITV picking up just four prizes. Channel 4 won three.

Other awards included:

  • Situation Comedy: Cold Feet, Granada for ITV.
  • Single Documentary: Modern Times - Drinking for England, BBC Two.
  • Documentary Series: Windrush, Pepper Productions for BBC Two.
  • Documentary Strand: The Natural World, BBC Two.
  • Regional Documentary: Put To The Test, Brian Waddell Productions for BBC Northern Ireland.
  • Regional Programme: A Light In The Valley, BBC Wales.
  • Regional Presenter: Noel Thompson, BBC Northern Ireland.
  • Features, Daytime: City Hospital, Topical Television for BBC One.
  • Features, Primetime: Time Team, Videotext/Picture House Production for Channel 4.
  • Off Screen Network Newcomer: Damien O'Donnell of Thirty Five Aside, Clingfilms Production for BBC Two.
  • Children's Drama: Microsoap, BBC One.
  • Children's Entertainment: The First Snow Of Winter, Hibbert Ralph Entertainment for BBC One.
  • Children's Factual: The Fame Game, BBC Scotland for BBC One.
  • Arts: Close Up - This England, BBC Two.
  • Television Performance: Rory Bremner, Channel 4.
  • Single Drama: A Rather English Marriage, Wall to Wall Television for BBC Two.
  • Drama Serial: A Young Persons Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, Company TV for Channel 4.
  • Drama Series: Jonathan Creek, BBC One.
  • Male Actor: Ray Winstone for Our Boy, BBC One.

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