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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
Bafta glamour in the rain
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Some of Britain's best-loved TV stars added several splashes of glamour to a rain-soaked Bafta awards show in central London on Sunday night.

Tamzin Outhwaite
Tamzin Outhwaite joined the UK TV industry's biggest night of the year
The heavens opened on the television industry's annual big night out as high-profile actors and presenters gathered for the glitzy ceremony.

At the height of the downpour, the red carpet outside the Grosvenor House Hotel became mired in a series of frothy puddles as celebrities clambered for cover beneath clear plastic umbrellas.

It demanded some delicate steps from the guests of honour - and invited memories of Bafta's notorious night two years ago when torrential rain turned the red carpet to foam for visiting Hollywood stars.

Thankfully, though, there was no repeat of 2002's calamity. The soap making the biggest headlines this year was Coronation Street - named best continuing drama for the second year running.

Some of the show's biggest stars braved the cold and rain to grace the red carpet, led by veterans Helen Worth and Sue Nicholls, and younger leads Suranne Jones, Nikki Sanderson, Lucy-Jo Hudson and Kate Ford.

Kirsty Gallacher
Kirsty Gallacher braved the rain for the red carpet
Footballers' Wives actress Zoe Lucker captured the attention of photographers in a grey beaded gown by designer Eavis and Brown, while Holby City actress Tina Hobley seemed determined to show off her tan in a green miniskirt by Dolce & Gabbana.

Also keeping the paparazzi occupied were actresses Tamzin Outhwaite, Amanda Donohoe and Frasier star Jane Leeves, presenter Kirsty Gallacher and former reality show competitor Alex Best.

Chris Noth - the so-called Mr Big from US series Sex and the City - drew female shrieks of delight from the audience - likewise, actors Robson Green and Ray Winstone, and presenter Jonathan Ross - winner of two awards.

Some stars grimaced and shivered as they made their way inside. Many retained a dignified poise, but others were more forthright.

Ricky Tomlinson
Thumbs up from Ricky Tomlinson, despite the downpour
"Nice weather for ducks," said Bafta fellow David Jason, who went on to accept a Radio Times audience award for Only Fools and Horses. "I swam up from Aylesbury."

Perhaps the most surprising absentees from the stars' parade were nominees Ant and Dec - winner of two major European awards the previous night for their Saturday Night Takeaway show.

Inside the ballroom, a slender Davina McCall was back in the spotlight after the birth of her second daughter, hosting the show in an orangey-red halter neck gown that started the fashionistas talking.

It was another great night for comic actor Ricky Gervais and his show The Office - both triumphing for the third year running, leading to his now-familiar string of self-deprecating jokes:

Davina McCall
Davina McCall was back in action after having her second child
"I was asked me how this compares to the Golden Globes (in LA)," he said. "(There) you see Michael Douglas, Jude Law, Tom Cruise...Up here I see... the painting bloke and the gardening bloke (off TV)."

Jonathan Ross, receiving his second award for his Friday night chat show, mocked his friend Gervais, claiming he was "bitter" and would "not cherish his awards". "I shall treat it like a baby and suckle it gently," Ross said of his Bafta.

Accepting their award for best comedy series, Little Britain's David Walliams and Matt Lucas went into character as two of the sketch-show's favourites, Lou and Andy.

"Oh what a kafuffle," said Walliams, to which Lucas replied with the inevitable: "Yeah, I know."

Their victory was a popular choice, causing the most rousing cheer of the night for any of the winners.

But even they could not top the minute-long standing ovation that greeted former BBC director general Greg Dyke when he stepped in to present the Huw Weldon award for factual series.

"It's slightly embarrassing because I'm supposed to be giving an award," he said as the applause subsided.

Referring to his resignation over the Hutton inquiry, he added, to laughter: "It's a shame more of you weren't around in January!"




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"There was something of an air of familiarity about the awards"



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