Bafta applauds cutting-edge comedy

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The Independent Online
THE BBC's cutting-edge comedies The Fast Show and I'm Alan Partridge secured establishment credentials last night when they won four awards at the television Baftas in London.

Paul Whitehouse, the co-writer and producer of The Fast Show who won British Comedy and Royal Television Society awards last year, picked up the best light entertainment performance award and best light entertainment series for the show itself. Unimpressed, he said of the ceremony: "It's a bunch of old tossers in DJs who earn too much money", and of his award: `I thought it might go in my upstairs toilet - I usually do."

The comedian Steve Coogan won the best comedy performance award for his suspiciously plausible portrayal of sad Norwich DJ Alan Partridge in I'm Alan Partridge. The series also won the best comedy show award.

Daniella Nardini (right) won the best actress for her role as Anna in This Life, BBC2's cult drama about twenty-something lawyers. Nardini, who was also honoured at the Scottish Baftas: "This is much heavier than the Scottish one... I think Anna would be overwhelmed."

She beat Miranda Richardson, Francesca Annis, for Reckless, and last year's Cannes Festival best actress, Kathy Burke.

The best actor award went to Simon Russell Beale for A Dance to the Music of Time. He beat Bafta's film award-winner Robert Carlyle, who was nominated for the whimsical drama Hamish Macbeth. For the first time Bafta has this year separated its television awards from the film prizes.

The best drama series award went to BBC1's comedy-drama Jonathan Creek, which was created by the One Foot in the Grave writer David Renwick and Susan Belbin. The best drama serial went to Tony Marchant's hard-hitting portrait of London, Holding On, which starred Phil Daniels. The best factual programme award went to The Nazis - a Warning From History. The current affairs and journalism award went to Panorama for "Valentina's Story", a harrowing child's-eye view of the Rwandan genocide.

The BBC dominated the awards, but ITV's honour was salvaged by the South Bank Show, which won the Huw Weldon arts programme award for its profile of Gilbert and George.

It was also rescued by the readers of the Radio Times who voted A Touch of Frost the winner of the Lew Grade Award.