The actor’s moving words had many of the audience in tears as he described his time working with the late star who died aged 60. The star-studded audience gave Kirkbride, who starred in the ITV soap for 40 years, a standing ovation at the event.
He said: “As the characters Ken and Deirdre we felt we’d met our soulmates and no matter what was thrown at us – Deirdre’s wrongful imprisonment and the compelling love triangle with Mike Baldwin – we always found one another together.
“The nation seemed to want us together and I feel so blessed, honoured and privileged to have had those years working with Anne.
He added: “What we’ll remember the most is the vibrant, warm-hearted, loving person who came to work each day, gave us all a hug and brightened up our lives.
His voice trembling with emotion, he added: “I love you, Anne. Thank you.”
A number of cast and crew from the soap attended last night’s award ceremony at London’s 02 Arena where they cheered on a number of the big winners.
Enduring ratings hit I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! showed it is still one of the most popular shows on British TV when it was named top entertainment programme.
Presenters Ant and Dec beat their own Saturday Night Takeaway to take the title for their jungle show at the ceremony staged at London’s O2 Arena, a prize they also won last year.
Ant and Dec were on stage for a second prize of the night when they collected the best entertainment presenter trophy – an award they have now won for a 14th consecutive year.
The duo looked surprise by the win, with McPartlin telling the audience: “I honestly didn’t think we would win. I thought it had to come to an end and I thought it would be tonight. Thank God it wasn’t.”
Sheridan Smith landed the prize for top drama performance for her portrayal of Cilla Black in ITV series Cilla, beating figures such as Dame Maggie Smith, Sarah Lancashire and Benedict Cumberbatch.
A new category introduced for the first time this year, for the top skills challenge show, went to The Great British Bake Off – beating the likes of MasterChef and The Apprentice.
Accepting the prize, presenter Paul Hollywood said working on the show was like “a great big family”.
BBC1 ratings hit Mrs Brown’s Boys collected the comedy prize, beating shows such as Outnumbered and The Big Bang Theory.
Creator and star Brendan O’Carroll said: “It’s not easy but we’ve got a great lot of people behind us, including Tommy the security man in Glasgow (where it is filmed), and without him, we couldn’t make the show.”
Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant was awarded the special recognition prize after being a familiar face on TV for a decade.
He picked up the award after the show featured a performance by Pixie Lott and The Proclaimers of 500 Miles, one of the actor’s favourite songs and a track he once performed with his Doctor Who colleagues.
Danny Dyer took the prize for best soap actor for his portrayal of EastEnders’ landlord Mick Carter, a role he has now had for a year, beating his screen wife who is played by Kellie Bright.
David Walliams was awarded the prize for best TV talent show judge, beating his Britain’s Got Talent colleague Simon Cowell.
But he was unable to attend so Cowell picked up the prize on his behalf, reading out a message from him, which said: “I don’t deserve this award. I have the pleasure of sitting next to one of the most good-looking powerful men in the music business – I would like to give this award to Simon Cowell.”