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National Television Awards 2014: Coronation Street, Doctor Who and Ant and Dec win big

Julie Hesmondhalgh took Serial Drama Performance for her Corrie role

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh led the celebrations at last night's National Television Awards, after winning Best Serial Drama Performance for her performance as terminally ill Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street.

The actress picked up the award after her character Hayley took an overdose in Monday night's episode to end her fight with terminal pancreatic cancer.

The controversial storyline reignited the right-to-die debate, with Hesmondhalgh's emotional performance earning her the award over her co-star David Neilson, who plays her on-screen husband Roy.

National TV Awards 2014: The winners list in full

Neilson accompanied her on stage to collect her trophy, as Hesmondhalgh told the audience: "We said that if either of us were lucky enough to get this we'd come up together because there ain't no Hayley without Roy and there ain’t no Roy without Hayley."

Neilson added that soaps have a powerful ability to "create a feeling of community".

He said: "Occasionally you get a huge reaction from a story and you realise how important these shows are because when people laugh together, cry together, you get community."

Coronation Street, TV review: Hayley and Roy bring the right to die to life with due nuance

Coronation Street also won the Serial Drama award, beating competition from its closest rival EastEnders, whose stars arrived on a red double-decker bus.

Hesmondhalgh  said backstage: “I’ve dedicated my award to my dad who died last year, to my husband, who is living proof that that kind of loyal, steadfast love can exist in real life as well, and also to David Neilson, who’s been the best working partner I could wish for.”

Ant & Dec were the other big winners at last night's ceremony. The duo won the Entertainment Presenter award for the 13th consecutive year, while I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! took the prize for Entertainment Programme ahead of their other hit show.

The Geordie duo were also honoured with a special Landmark award.

Host Dermot O'Leary read out a letter Prince Charles had written to the comedy duo, saying: "The warmth and empathy they show towards charitable causes, their viewers and their deep friendship towards one another are as great achievements as their countless and well-deserved awards. The nation has taken them to their hearts."

Video footage from their long career was also shown, including appearances from Robbie Williams and Simon Cowell.

Retired Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer described them as "the most famous double act from Newcastle" before Dec thanked Ant, saying: “Neither of us would be here if it wasn’t for each other”.

Matt Smith and the cast of BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who also enjoyed multiple successes. Smith, who is currently appearing in the West End’s American Psycho, won for Drama Performance, beating Miranda Hart, Martin Clunes and Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith.

The show also triumphed over Broadchurch, Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife to take the Drama award.

Jenna Coleman, who plays the Time Lord’s sidekick Clara Oswald, accepted the Drama award from Brazilian model Fernanda Lima and England football manager Roy Hodgson. “Fifty years and still going strong, well done Who,” she said.

Other winners at the National Television Awards, which were all voted for by the public, included daytime show This Morning, Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Strictly Come Dancing.

Asked whether host Sir Bruce Forsyth would be back for the next series of Strictly amid rumours of retirement, Judge Craig Revel Horwood told The Independent: "Oh Brucie will be back, it wouldn't be Strictly without Bruce would it?"

The BBC’s Mrs Brown’s Boys won the Comedy award, with writer and star Brendan O’Carroll defying negative reviews backstage.

"If you want to be a race horse, run the race," he said.