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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 23:05 GMT
EastEnders dominates awards
Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie
Winning stars: Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie
BBC One soap EastEnders outshone its rivals at the National Television Awards, winning four prizes at the annual ceremony.

Shane Richie won most popular actor, while Jessie Wallace took the most popular actress prize at the awards, which are voted for by viewers.

Nigel Harman, who plays Albert Square villain Dennis Rickman, won best newcomer while the soap also took the best serial drama prize, decided by a telephone poll on the night.

But at the end of ceremony, the show was stolen by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who made a surprise appearance to present a special achievement award to unsuspecting awards host Sir Trevor McDonald.

Tuesday night's triumph adds to a fine year for EastEnders.

Soap success

EastEnders has dominated the recent Inside Soap Awards and the TV Quick Awards, despite higher ratings for ITV1 rival Coronation Street, which won nothing at the Royal Albert Hall.

Richie's prize comes less than a year after he joined the BBC One soap, marking a dramatic change in his fortunes after being better known for his light entertainment career.

EastEnders stars pose with award presenter Nancy Dell'Olio

In his acceptance speech, he thanked the BBC for taking him on as the Queen Vic's landlord.

He added: "Being the most popular doesn't mean you're the best. One of my heroes is David Jason, and one day I would like to be as good as David, because to me he is the best."

Jason had earlier accepted the drama prize for ITV1's A Touch of Frost.

Retirement hint

The 63-year-old, a fixture of British TV screens since the late 1960s, said he was considering winding down his career after accepting his award.

"You reach a point when there are only so many times you can say 'time of death'," he said.

David Jason
Shane Richie paid an emotional tribute to David Jason
"When a show is still popular you do want to continue but Frost should retire now and maybe I should retire."

Jason said that he would continue filming until the end of the year but that there was not yet a decision to continue the show next year.

A delighted Chris Tarrant picked up the quiz award for ITV1's flagship game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Tarrant returned later to surprise Sir Trevor McDonald with news of his award, marking the News At Ten presenter's three decades in broadcasting.

A series of clips from his career were shown, including tributes from comedian Lenny Henry - who famously lampooned Sir Trevor during the 1980s - and ITV News editor David Mannion.

Chris Tarrant

Mr Blair then appeared to shake hands with a tearful Sir Trevor and said: "This goes to a man admired and respected by everyone in this country. We make this special recognition award to Sir Trevor McDonald."

Ant and Dec triple

Presenting duo Ant and Dec were triple winners at the ceremony.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were named most popular entertainment presenters, while their show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! scooped the reality programme prize, and the duo's Saturday Night Takeaway won in the entertainment programme category.

BBC One's My Family took the comedy programme prize, while Cold Feet's James Nesbitt was named most popular comedy performer.

The most popular factual entertainment programme was won by breakfast TV station GMTV.

EastEnders' best serial prize was presented by Nancy Dell'Olio, partner of England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.


Award winners:

  • Actress - Jessie Wallace (EastEnders, BBC One)
  • Actor - Shane Richie (EastEnders, BBC One)
  • Newcomer - Nigel Harman (EastEnders, BBC One)
  • Comedy Programme - My Family (BBC One)
  • Comedy Performer - James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, ITV1)
  • Entertainment Programme - Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV1)
  • Entertainment Presenters - Ant and Dec
  • Factual Entertainment Programme - GMTV
  • Reality Programme - I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV1)
  • Quiz Programme - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (ITV1)
  • Drama - A Touch of Frost (ITV1)



SEE ALSO:
In Pictures: National TV Awards
28 Oct 03  |  Photo Gallery
Soaps set for TV awards showdown
28 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
EastEnders scoops eight soap awards
29 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
EastEnders cleans up at TV awards
08 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Street shows first gay kiss
31 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Street sweeps soap awards
10 May 03  |  Entertainment


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