The quirky Yorkshire comedian Daniel Kitson was named the winner of the Perrier comedy award at a ceremony at the Edinburgh festival in the early hours of yesterday.
He beat the Australian Adam Hills, who was also his rival last year, Omid Djalili, an Anglo-Iranian comic who had provoked much interest, and three other contenders for the prize, which has launched the careers of Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner and Lee Evans.
This year's award has drawn criticism for its all-male shortlist, and for the second year running came under fire for its links to Perrier's parent company Nestlé, which is accused of promoting breast milk substitute to mothers in developing countries and endangering infant health.
In an embarrassing reference for the award organisers during his acceptance speech, Kitson, who at 25 was the youngest of the six shortlisted candidates, imagined the party-goers drinking champagne "while ignoring the protesters outside". Baby Milk Action, a group that campaigns against Nestlé, had picketed outside the ceremony.
Kitson said he had originally intended to miss the ceremony where he accepted a £7,500 prize and the chance to headline a pick-of-the-fringe show in the West End of London. The comedian told the giant crowd of Perrier judges, talent scouts and television executives at the Edinburgh College of Art he had planned on having his agent read the speech while he would pretend to be writing a television series in the south of France.
The best newcomers prize was won by The Consultants, a trio of friends, Justin Edwards, Neil Edmond and James Rawlings.
* A little-known BBC1 drama about young offenders entitled Out of Control beat productions by established directors to win the prize for best British feature film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival yesterday.
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