'Cranford' heads BBC domination of awards

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Bonnets and bustles were not in short supply in Cranford, but the BBC costume drama also addressed the dawning of a modern age, when railways intruded on rural life and Britain was on the brink of social upheaval.

It was a combination that will be celebrated today by the Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG), with four prizes, including best television drama series, at its annual awards ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Dame Eileen Atkins winsthe best actress award for her performance as Miss Deborah, an elderly spinster facing changing times; Philip Glenister, who played Mr Carter, land agent to a local aristocrat, wins best actor and Heidi Thomas gets the writer's award

Based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford tells the story of a Cheshire town where society is dominated by women of a certain age.

The BBC announced earlier this week that the show will return for a two-part special at Christmas 2009.

The series has already picked up the Royal Television Society award for best writer for Thomas; the Television and Radio Industries Club prize for best drama; and four nominations for the television Baftas later this month.

BBC shows and presenters won 10 of the 15 BPG prizes. Among them was Andrew Marr who was named best TV performer in a non-acting role for The Andrew Marr Show, while his History of Modern Britain won best documentary series. The sitcom Gavin & Stacey was named best comedy/entertainment show, while Top Gear won best factual entertainment show.