Dando's death overshadows Baftas

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The Independent Online
TELEVISION'S MOST glamorous night of the year was tinged with sadness as the TV industry gathered for the first time since Jill Dando's murder.

Miss Dando was to have co-presented last night's Bafta television awards at Grosvenor House Hotel in London with Michael Parkinson. Instead, Mr Parkinson presented the televised event alone and began the evening with a tribute to Miss Dando.

He led the 1,400 guests in a minute's silence, then said: "Jill was a nice, natural, good- humoured, warm person." He added that when they had discussed how to host the evening, she had urged that it be "brisk and business-like." He said last night: "If that's what she wants, so be it."

The actor and comedian Stephen Fry commented: "It's going to cast a pall on the evening. She was very, very good at this sort of thing." Other stars included the actor Francesca Annis, comedian Ronnie Corbett, gardener Charlie Dimmock and Vanity Fair star Natasha Little.

Later in the evening there were memories of Morecambe and Wise as Bafta awarded the double act its first posthumous fellowship. It was accepted by their widows.

Michael Parkinson won an award for best light entertainment performance for his return to the chat show. But the biggest cheer of the night was for 87-year-old Dame Thora Hird, voted best actress for her performance in Alan Bennett's Waiting For The Telegram.

Among the other principal awards, Tom Courtney was best actor for A Rather English Marriage, which also won best single drama; The Richard Dimbleby special award went to Trevor McDonald; the Lew Grade special award for most popular programme went to Goodnight Mr Tom; best drama series was Cops; best drama serial was Our Mutual Friend; best soap was EastEnders; best comedy was Father Ted and best comedy performance was Dermot Morgan; best art programme was Arena's The Brian Epstein Story. Who Wants To Be a Millionaire was best light entertainment programme. Best factual series was The Human Body.