Ant and Dec shake off phone-in row with awards triumph

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The Independent Online

Ant and Dec were crowned most popular entertainment presenters at the National Television Awards last night, despite the recent controversy over rigged phone-ins on their show.

Fresh acclaim was also heaped upon BBC1's Doctor Who, which was named best drama at the ceremony at London's Royal Albert Hall, while its star David Tennant was declared best actor.

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly also scooped the prize for most popular entertainment programme for their primetime ITV1 family entertainment show Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

Last month, an independent report by the auditor Deloitte found that production staff on Saturday Night Takeaway had routinely ignored votes cast by viewers in phone-in polls on editorial grounds. ITV has promised to reimburse viewers of this and other shows which failed to register viewer's votes properly and is expected to pay out at least £18m.

Ant and Dec first met on the children's television show Byker Grove set in their native Newcastle and went on to record pop singles before becoming the golden boys of ITV entertainment.

But the dream threatened to turn sour when it was revealed in the Deloitte report that viewers had made £6.5m worth of useless phone calls to shows which the pair hosted and executive-produced. The ITV chairman, Michael Grade, said that executive producer credits had only been bestowed on Ant and Dec as "vanity" titles.

The affair has had heavy ramifications, with the Serious Fraud Office saying it may investigate the breaches when the media watchdog Ofcom has concluded its own investigation into what went wrong at ITV. But ITV has insisted that, although Ant and Dec have been credited as executive producers on all seven series of Saturday Night Takeaway, only the latest series, which did not include any phone-in element, was a full co-production with their company Gallowgate Productions.

For last night at least, such concerns were swept aside as Ant and Dec beat Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton, Paul O'Grady and Fern Britton to be named jointly as most popular entertainment presenters.

Their show triumphed over Channel 4's Deal or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats, and BBC1's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.

BBC1's critically acclaimed revival of Doctor Who, masterminded by Russell T Davies, had yet more accolades heaped upon it last night. Two years ago, it won three National Television Awards, including best drama, best actor for Christopher Eccleston and best actress for Billie Piper. This year, Freema Agyeman, who has replaced Piper in the role, was nominated for best actress, but lost out to the EastEnders actress Lacey Turner.

But there was better news for David Tennant who was named best actor – beating Coronation Street's Anthony Cotton, EastEnders' Charlie Clements and Hollyoaks' James Sutton.

It was a good night for the BBC, which also won awards with The Catherine Tate Show.

Top Gear won the prize for most popular factual programme from a shortlist including This Morning, The Jeremy Kyle Show and Gordon Ramsay's F Word. The BBC1 soap opera EastEnders, was also voted best serial drama.

ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here won the award for best reality programme.

The most popular...

* Entertainment programme: Ant And Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

* Entertainment presenter: Ant and Dec

* Drama: Doctor Who

* Actress: Lacey Turner (EastEnders)

* Actor: David Tennant (Doctor Who)

* Serial drama: EastEnders

* Comedy programme: The Catherine Tate Show

* Factual programme: Top Gear

* Reality programme: I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!