Billy Connolly honoured with NTA special recognition award

Billy Connolly arriving at the National Television Awards 2016. Picture: PA
Billy Connolly arriving at the National Television Awards 2016. Picture: PA
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Downton Abbey, the upstairs downstairs tale of intrigue and romance in a bygone era, bowed out in gracious style by scooping the prestigious best drama category at the 2016 National Television Awards.

The ITV show, which was tipped as favourite, also won in 2012, 2013 and 2015, beating such shows as the BBC’s Doctor Who and Casualty and ITV’s Broadchurch.

With Downton Abbey having ended at Christmas, creator Julian Fellowes called the show’s win a “happy ending”.

He said: “I love happy endings and this is a very happy ending, thank you.”

The 21st awards at London’s O2 Arena – voted on, as ever, by the public – were opened by Gloria Gaynor singing her disco classic I Will Survive.

Billy Connolly, 73, was presented with a special recognition award by his friend Dustin Hoffman, who flew in from the US in honour of the Scottish comedian and actor’s 50-year career.

Hoffman said: “This man has been entertaining the world for 50 years. His humour, though seemingly basic, is quite sophisticated. Good taste is something he has always turned his back on. He exposes truth. He transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.” Accepting the award, Connolly joked: “This is the best laxative I have ever known.”

Poldark actor Aidan Turner won TV Moment of the Year – a new category for a scene which gets viewers talking –for his shirtless scything in the Cornish drama,

Doctor Foster actress Suranne Jones celebrated a double dose of good news – the 37-year-old debuted a baby bump as she took to the stage with her co-stars to collect the new drama award.

The BBC’s flagship baking show, The Great British Bake Off, won the best challenge award.