Thompson's victory, warts and all

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Emma Thompson's extraordinary transformation into wart-ridden Nanny McPhee in her self-penned film adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books secured her the plaudits of her female peers yesterday.

The actress, who had previously adapted Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility for which she won an Oscar in 1996, took the script award at the 15th annual Women in Film and Television awards in London.

At a ceremony attended by 900 industry figures including the actresses Rachel Weisz and Kelly Macdonald and men including Stephen Fry and the producer Stephen Woolley, Ms Thompson paid tribute to the support she had received from fellow women.

But the warmth of female solidarity had been undermined before hand when former That's Life presenter Esther Rantzen, recipient of the lifetime achievement award, questioned whether female executives had improved the industry.

In an interview in Broadcast magazine, Ms Rantzen said: "Women don't necessarily make good bosses."

She perceived a tendency to reject feminine attributes in favour of unpleasant male traits such as aggression and autocracy - "a determination to prove you are as tough... as decisive... as good at bullying people as any of your bosses. Interestingly, I watched men become much less bullying, less autocratic, more collaborative, as bosses."

However, she considerably toned down her remarks for the ceremony and was seen deep in talks with Lorraine Heggessey, now chief executive of the production house talkbackThames.

Other awards went to women working behind as well as in front of the camera. Catherine Tate's recognition came in a special category for creative originality while Ms Heggessey's award was for excellence in television.