British talent disappoints at Emmys with only two awards

Tom Wilkinson and Dame Eileen Atkins were the only two British prize-winners at the 60th annual Emmy awards, held in Los Angeles late on Sunday night.

Wilkinson, 59, scooped Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series for his depiction of Benjamin Franklin in John Adams, a biopic of the second president of the United States.

Dame Eileen won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Deborah Jenkins in Cranford, another costume drama set in a rural town in Cheshire in the 19th century. The 74-year-old actress beat fellow Briton Ashley Jensen, 39, who was nominated for her role as Maggie Jacobs in the series finale of Ricky Gervais's Extras.

However, there was no repeat of last year's impressive haul, which saw British productions winning seven awards . Overall it was a disappointing night, with both Gervais and Dame Judi Dench leaving empty-handed.

Dame Judi had been nominated as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie for her role as Matty Jenkins in Cranford, but lost to Laura Linney, who starred opposite Wilkinson in John Adams.

Cranford had been thought to be the country's best hope for victory at the ceremony, but the series missed out on many awards, including those for best mini-series, best writing, costumes, casting and art direction.

Ricky Gervais's Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale had also been tipped for success after it was nominated for six awards, but was pipped to every one. Gervais, Wilkinson and Ralph Fiennes all lost out to Paul Giamatti, who played the title role in John Adams, for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie.

On Saturday, Gervais, 47, had joked that award ceremonies were only fun if you were a winner, while acknowledging that the Emmys, US television's highest honours, were in "a different class" to other awards.

He said: "If you lose, everybody that walks past with an Emmy, you want to punch their face in. I was thinking about bringing my old ones just to walk around with them."

When asked about his nomination for Best Actor, he did not seem confident of success. "They've put me in the film category, which is very flattering, but I've got no chance," he said. "I'm up against Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Ralph Fiennes and me – a fat bloke from England. Forget it."

Hugh Laurie, increasingly popular in the US after being cast as the eccentric Dr Gregory House in the hospital drama House, also missed out on the Best Actor in a Drama award, which went to Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad. The programme also failed to win Best Drama Series, which instead went to Mad Men.

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