Dr Who sweeps the board at TV awards

DOCTOR Who triumphed over his television adversaries last night as the BBC's revived adventures of the Time Lord clinched a hat-trick of awards at the National Television Awards.

Christopher Eccleston won most popular actor, while most popular actress went to his sidekick on the series, Billie Piper.

The Doctor actor was missing from the ceremony, But Dr Who writer Russell T Davies read out a note of thanks on behalf of Eccleston.

The Dr Who star congratulated his fellow nominees adding: "I'm very sorry that I can't be there tonight. Thank you to everybody who voted for me, and to the British public for their encouragement over the last 17 years. They have always been honest with me and I'm very grateful."

He dedicated the award to a little boy who "loves Dr Who and loves life".

The appearance of one duo surprised award-goers. Tory leadership contenders David Davis and David Cameron turned up on stage together to present the gong for best drama. Mr Cameron was the one holding the trophy and the pair were both booed as they arrived on stage. Mr Davis asked his Tory rival: "Should you leave or should I?" To which Mr Cameron replied: "It's not for us to decide."

Then they both announced the recipient of the award was Dr Who.

Piper thanked the show's director, viewers and writers as she picked up the award for Most Popular Drama for Dr Who with some of her co-stars.

Picking up the actress award, Ms Piper thanked her "lovely boyfriend", Mr E (thought to be former husband Chris Evans) and Eccleston "for being a fantastic doctor and teaching me so much". Wearing a short black figure-hugging dress, she said: "Thank you so much. This means so much to me, I can't even begin to tell you."

She thanked the show bosses for taking a "huge gamble".

The awards also recognised Jamie Oliver's place as one of Britain's best-loved television chefs. Jamie's School Dinners, which was widely credited with focusing government attention on the quality of school food in the run-up to the general election, won most popular factual programme and Oliver, who arrived with his wife Jools, also won a special recognition award.

Oliver supported a black eye as he picked up his award for Jamie's School Dinners.

Backstage he wouldn't answer questions about how he got the bruise, but said he was not drunk.

Collecting the award he said: "Thank you so much for the viewers that voted. Without them I wouldn't have this phallic-looking thing."

Doctor Who's triumph came in the face of stiff opposition.

Doctor Who was pitted against Bad Girls (ITV), Desperate Housewives (Channel 4) and The Bill (ITV) in the drama category. Eccleston, who quit playing the Doctor after just one series, was up against Martin Clunes, EastEnders' Nigel Harman (Dennis) and Shane Richie (Alfie), and Bradley Walsh (Danny) from Coronation Street. Piper, who plays the Doctor's assistant Rose, was competing against Caroline Quentin, EastEnders' Jessie Wallace (Kat), June Brown (Dot) and Coronation Street's Sally Lindsay (Shelley).

David Walliams and Matt Lucas continued a seemingly unstoppable run of success as Little Britain was awarded most popular comedy show. The award for the most popular entertainment programme went to ITV's The X Factor, while Sharon Osbourne, one of the three judges on the top-rated Saturday talent show, was also chosen as most popular expert on TV.

The most popular entertainment presenter award went to ITV's Ant and Dec, while most popular daytime award was won by Lily Savage creator Paul O'Grady, who beat off competition from This Morning, Neighbours and GMTV.

Channel 4's sixth series of Big Brother showed the format was far from flagging as it picked up best reality programme in a field contested by Hell's Kitchen, I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here and The Apprentice.

There was also relief for EastEnders, which after a turbulent period of mixed publicity returned in triumph to walk away with most popular serial drama against competition from Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

• Keira Knightley received a top honour at the British Independent Film Awards last night.

The 20-year-old actress was named UK Personality of the Year at the prize ceremony.

The star of Pride and Prejudice was chosen by Hollywood bible Variety.

It said: "There's no brighter star in the world today than actress Keira Knightley, who's gone in a few short years from breakout success in Bend It Like Beckham to blockbuster hits like King Arthur, Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually."

And the award goes to...

Most popular entertainment presenter - Ant and Dec

Most popular expert on TV - Sharon Osbourne

Most popular entertainment programme - The X Factor

Most popular reality programme - Big Brother

Most popular drama - Doctor Who

Most popular serial drama - EastEnders

Most popular newcomer - Antony Cotton, Coronation Street

Most popular actor - Christopher Eccleston

Most popular actress - Billie Piper

Most popular quiz programme - Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Most popular daytime programme - The Paul O'Grady Show

Most popular comedy programme - Little Britain

Most popular factual programme - Jamie's School Dinners

Special recognition award - Jamie Oliver

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