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Brits miss out at Emmys

British TV stars had a disappointing night at the 60th annual Emmy awards today.

Tom Wilkinson and Dame Eileen Atkins were honoured for their supporting roles, but many others, including Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench, were left empty-handed at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Wilkinson, 59, won best supporting actor in a mini-series or movie for his role as Benjamin Franklin in the presidential mini-series John Adams.

And Dame Eileen won the award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Deborah Jenkins in the costume drama Cranford.

The 74-year-old actress beat fellow Briton Ashley Jenson, 39, who was nominated for her role as Maggie Jacobs in Ricky Gervais's Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale.

Dame Eileen's co-star Dame Judi Dench was put forward as outstanding lead actress in a mini series or movie for her role as Matty Jenkins in Cranford, but lost to Laura Linney for John Adams.

The 19th-century drama Cranford, Britain's best hope for success at the Emmys, also missed out on the awards for best mini-series and best writing, costumes, casting and art direction for a mini-series.

But in a more low-key ceremony last weekend it won the award for best hairstyling in a mini-series.

Britons Wilkinson, Gervais, and Ralph Fiennes all lost to Paul Giammatti, for his title role in John Adams, in the best actor in a mini-series or movie category.

And Hugh Laurie, who plays Dr Gregory House, missed out on the best actor in a drama award, which went to Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad.

House also failed to win the award for best drama series, which went to Mad Men. But Greg Yaitanes won the award for outstanding directing for a drama series for the hospital drama.

Gervais's Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale was also nominated for best made-for-television movie, best writing and best directing in a mini series, movie or a dramatic special, best supporting actress - but missed out on all these awards.

But Gervais, who won best lead actor in a comedy series last year, also took part in an awkward sketch with Steve Carrell, who said he was going to hold Gervais' Emmy award hostage last year when the Briton could not attend the ceremony.

"I've come to get it back," he said.

He also joked that he was going "off-script" and said the ceremony's producers were getting nervous as he walked to where Carrell was sitting in the front row of the audience to retrieve his award.

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

"If you lose, everybody that walks past with an Emmy you want to punch their face in," he said.

"I was thinking about bringing my old ones just to walk around with them. Then when everyone goes, 'Hey you won', I can go, 'Yeah, they didn't show it but I won.'."

Talking about his nomination for best actor, he was not confident of success.

"They've put me in the film category which is very flattering but I've got no chance I'm up against Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giammatti, Ralph Fiennes and me a fat bloke from England - forget it," he said.

He added that there were no plans for another series of Extras.

"That's the end and the next three things I've got out are all films," he said.

"Ghost Town out at the moment, go and watch it. Then my first film that I've written and directed is out next year called This Side of the Truth, then myself and Stephen (Merchant) are doing a film which will be out the year after that."

Neither Wilkinson nor Dame Eileen were at the ceremony to collect their awards.

The sleek 1960s drama Mad Men made Emmy history as the first basic-cable show to win a top series award, while the sitcom 30 Rock and its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were the night's top winners.

"We're all so very grateful to have jobs in this turkey-burger economy," Fey said after accepting the best comedy series trophy for her satire about a late-night TV show.

The upcoming US presidential election also featured heavily in the evening's speeches after the ceremony got off to a rocky start with five reality TV hosts opening the ceremony in a rambling way.

Ryan Seacrest and his fellow hosts talked about how they had "nothing" to talk about, before turning to a slapstick comedy routine which involved supermodel Heidi Klum having her clothes ripped off, revealing black hot pants underneath her modest suit.