Office beats spoof to prize

THE controversial Brass Eye programme on paedophiles was overlooked for a Royal Television Society award last night.

The spoof show, which became the most complained about programme in British television history, was beaten by Ricky Gervais’ satirical look at working life, The Office, for the best situation comedy and comedy drama prize.

Gervais accepted the award for the BBC 2 comedy at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor Hotel, but left the stage without saying a word.

EastEnders won best soap for the BBC, beating Doctors and Hollyoaks, while Anne Robinson won another award for The Weakest Link, which was named best daytime programme ahead of The Wright Stuff and A Place In The Sun.

Ant and Dec picked up the best presenter award for SM:TV Live, a Saturday morning show which they have now left. The Newcastle pair beat Rolf Harris for his BBC 1 show Rolf On Art, as well as the BBC’s Louis Theroux.

Banzai, Channel 4’s comedy spoof betting show, picked up best entertainment programme for “revitalising late-night viewing”, beating BBC 1’s Comic Relief and BBC 2’s The Kumars at Number 42.

Johnny Vegas, who appears alongside a puppet monkey in adverts for ITV Digital, won best network newcomer for his performance in BBC 2’s Happiness.

The comedian said: “I know I’m on TV because I will do all the stuff no trained actor will do and they think let’s get him now before he gets any pride.”

The drama Perfect Strangers brought double success for BBC 2, picking up honours in the best serial or single drama category and best writer for Stephen Poliakoff.

David Suchet took the best actor award for his role in BBC 1’s The Way We Live Now, ahead of Gervais, while the best actress went to Diane Parish for her role in BBC 2’s Babyfather.

Clocking Off earned best drama series for BBC 1, seeing off competition from Channel 4’s Teachers and ITV’s At Home With The Braithwaites.

The impressionist Alistair McGowan won the best entertainment performance for his BBC 1 show Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression, seeing off Jonathan Ross and the awards’ host, Graham Norton.

Tam Cowan won best regional presenter for Taxi for Cowan and Offside on BBC Scotland. while Tartan Shorts: Cry for Bobo (BBC 2 Scotland) won best regional programme.