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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
A Royle night at the Baftas
The Royle Family stars Ralf Little, Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson
Royle winners: Ralf Little, Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson celebrate
Actress Caroline Aherne and her hit show The Royle Family have won two awards at British television's equivalent of the Oscars.

She won in the best comedy performance category while The Royle Family - a BBC series about a household addicted to television - won the best situation comedy award.

Aherne paid tribute to her co-star in the series by telling the audience: "Thanks very much. I voted for Ricky Tomlinson."

Other headline winners at the British Academy Television Awards included 88-year-old Dame Thora Hird, who was judged to be best actress for her performance in ITV's Lost For Words.

Sorry about the comedy walk, we thought it would get a laugh - you see, I'm 23 and getting a bit older

Dame Thora Hird on being helped onto the stage
It was the second time in two years the veteran performer had taken the prize - last year she won for BBC Two's Waiting For The Telegram.

Dame Thora attended the awards ceremony at London's Grosvenor House Hotel in a wheelchair, but was helped onto the stage by Lost For Words writer Deric Longden to collect her prize.

She said: "Sorry about the comedy walk, we thought it would get a laugh.

"It's my leg and one thing and another because, you see, I'm 23 and getting a bit older."

John Simpson
Making the news: BBC world affairs editor John Simpson

Michael Gambon took the male equivalent for the BBC One drama Wives and Daughters.

Would-be homeboy Ali G had been hotly tipped to win best entertainment award, but his creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, looked dumbstruck when fellow comic Graham Norton's name was announced as winner.

He applauded as the Irishman - who won for his Channel 4 chat show, So Graham Norton - dedicated the win to his father, Billy Walker, "who didn't live to see this".

It proved to be a good Bafta ceremony for BBC news coverage, with Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman winning the Richard Dimbleby award for best presenter.

Senior BBC journalist John Simpson sounded a controversial note when accepting a news journalism award on behalf of the corporation for its coverage of the Kosovo crisis.

Dame Thora Hird, 89, nominated for best actress for ITV drama Lost For Words
Dame Thora Hird joked about her incapacity

He told the audience: "I'd like very much to dedicate this award to returning News At Ten to its proper place, where it should be."

The Independent Television Commission meets on Thursday to discuss the fate of ITV's news bulletins, following the scrapping of News At Ten last year.

The world affairs editor said the bulletin had been "cavalierly shoved aside" and added: "I'm hoping very much that it will be brought back. Of course, it means more competition for me and my colleagues, but all the better."

The BBC also won an award for innovation with its Walking With Dinosaurs series, and best soap for EastEnders.

It also won in the entertainment show or series category with Robbie The Reindeer: Hooves of Fire, and in the comedy show or series category with The League Of Gentlemen.

Joanna Lumley and Honor Blackman
Avengers prize: Joanna Lumley and Honor Blackman

Channel 4 won the Flaherty documentary award for Divorce Iranian-style, the Huw Wheldon Award for best arts show or series with This Is Modern Art. and its test cricket coverage won the sports award.

Neville Lawrence was in the audience to see the ITV dramatisation of the investigation into the killing of his - The Murder of Stephen Lawrence - take the best single drama prize.

The Lew Grade Audience Award, which was voted for by Radio Times magazine readers, went to A Touch of Frost for the second year running.

The Alan Clarke Award for outstanding personal creative contribution to television went to Peter Kominsky, with Tony Marchant winning the Dennis Potter Award and Peter Bazalgette - whose Bazal Productions outfit makes Changing Rooms and Ground Force - awarded a fellowship.

A special award was presented to the four female stars of The Avengers - Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley, Dame Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson - to win a special award for changing the perception of women on television.

The BBC's David Sillito
"TV's biggest stars were on the red carpet again"
See also:

15 May 00 | Entertainment
Bafta TV awards: The winners
14 May 00 | Entertainment
In pictures: Bafta TV awards
09 Apr 00 | Entertainment
American Beauty shines at Baftas
01 May 00 | Entertainment
Wives wins at awards show
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