'I really did win. Oh gosh, okay... Thanks Mum, thanks so much'

Winslet was a clear Emmys favourite – but you wouldn't know it from her speech

Click to follow

It was a night to remember for British television. And when this year's Emmy awards were handed out, before a packed Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and a live audience of 12.5 million admiring Americans, two very distinct sorts of Englishness could be observed.

In one camp sat the stars of Downton Abbey, the Edwardian country house drama which won four prizes on the night, including Best Miniseries or Movie and Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Dame Maggie Smith. The show's creator, Julian Fellowes, displayed the very model of a stiff upper lip when he added a screenwriting award to that haul.

In the opposite camp, well, there was Kate Winslet. Projecting the now-familiar exuberance with which she salutes an addition to her trophy cabinet, the Oscar-winning actress punched the air, hugged a slew of colleagues, and struggled to hold back the tears when it was announced that she had picked up the Best Actress award for her lead role in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce.

"Oh look, I really did win it. Oh gosh, okay. Thank you so much!... I didn't think we were going to win anything," she declared, before dedicating the prize to her mother. "It doesn't matter how old you are, or what you do in your life, you never stop needing your mum. And I will never stop needing mine. So thanks, mum. Thank you so much!"

The speech added to Ms Winslet's reputation for unrestrained victory celebrations, which made headlines at last year's Oscar and Golden Globe ceremonies. And it led to an outpouring of hilarity among more cynical viewers, who briefly turned her name into a "trending topic" on Twitter.

Some commentators wondered why the actress tried to claim that the victory came as a surprise, given that she was long odds-on favourite to win for her portrayal of a single mother during the Depression. Others unkindly wondered about the provenance of her cockney accent, noting that she was brought up in prosperous Berkshire.

The woman herself reacted with understandable irritation when the issue was raised in the press room shortly afterwards. "I was truly, extremely unprepared, and I didn't think I would win at all," she declared. "It just comes out the way it comes out. There's not a huge amount you can do about it."

No such explaining was required of the team behind Downton Abbey, which has become as lucrative a hit in the US as it is in the UK. The ITV series recently began its second series, and a third has already been commissioned.

Fellowes, who was plucked from obscurity when he won an Oscar for Gosford Park in 2002, described the period drama's success as a "David and Goliath story" and said it seemed "perfectly extraordinary" to have won.

Hours before the ceremony began, a pre-recorded monologue by actor Alec Baldwin, star of the nominated show 30 Rock, was abruptly censored at the behest of its broadcaster, Fox.

Executives at the network objected to a gag in which Baldwin interrupted a phone conversation to ask: "Is that you, Rupert?" The gag was intended as a reference to the phone-hacking scandal dogging Fox's owner, Rupert Murdoch. After learning that the joke had been cut, Baldwin demanded that his entire segment be removed.