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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK


Frasier squares up to Ally McBeal

Victorious: The cast of Frasier at the 1998 Emmy Awards

A comedy showdown is expected when the US Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announces the nominations for the 1999 Emmy Awards on Thursday.

Frasier made history last year when it won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Best Comedy Series award. The hit show went on to scoop 18 trophies in total in 1998.

[ image: Emmy favourite: Ally McBeal star Callista Flockhart]
Emmy favourite: Ally McBeal star Callista Flockhart
But now that Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show, which have both ceased production, are out of the running, its main opposition could come from Ally McBeal, 3rd Rock From The Sun or Friends.

The hot money will be on Ally McBeal. It stormed into the Emmys last year with nine nominations, but walked away with just one statue.

Last year's champion in the Best Drama Series category, The Practice, is set to face stiff opposition from ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue and The X-Files.

But newcomer The Sopranos, a fictional look at New Jersey Mafia members, could well be the big surprise in the drama category. It recently made its UK debut on Channel 4.

British hopes

British success in 1998 came in the form of actress Emma Thompson for a guest appearance in the controversial comedy Ellen.

Full Monty star Robert Carlyle could follow in her footsteps this year. He could be a major contender for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the BBC's Hamish Macbeth.

[ image: Mad About You: 1998 Emmy winner Helen Hunt]
Mad About You: 1998 Emmy winner Helen Hunt
Another BBC offering - the critically-acclaimed adaptation of Dickens's Great Expectations - starring Charlotte Rampling, could be in the running for Best mini-series.

ITV drama Hornblower could figure in the mini-series category too. Ioan Gruffudd, who also played Pip in the Great Expectations, starred in the title role. The show is jointly produced with American network A & E.

Other British names in the frame include Ian Holm for King Lear and Robson Green for Touching Evil and Reckless:The Sequel.

[ image: Hornblower stars Robert Lindsay and Ioan Grufford]
Hornblower stars Robert Lindsay and Ioan Grufford
Helen Mirren, a former Emmy award winner for Prime Suspect, could also feature in the nominations for her role in The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Tracey Ullman, whose Tracey Takes On... series won four Emmys, could again figure in the nominations with the Tracey Ullman Show.

The 51st annual Emmy Awards will held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on 12 September.

Last year's awards ceremony was watched by more than 600 million viewers in 90 countries.

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