BBC's star-studded adaptation of 'Bleak House' shines at awards

The BBC may have tried to inject soap opera values into its recent adaptation of Charles Dickens's Bleak House, but it spared no expense on actors, hiring a star-studded cast that included Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance.

Its lavish production will be honoured today at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. Anderson - best-known for her role in The X-Files - will be crowned best actress for her performance as Lady Dedlock, an aristocrat with a deadly secret.

Anderson saw off the challenge of four other nominees: her Bleak House co-star Anna Maxwell Martin; Helen Mirren, for Channel 4's Elizabeth I; Ashley Jensen for Extras; and Billie Piper for her performance as Rose in Doctor Who.

Dance, who played Lady Dedlock's nemesis, the manipulative lawyer Mr Tulkinghorn, will pick up the award for best actor, triumphing over Doctor Who's last two incarnations, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, and The Thick of It's Chris Langham.

Andrew Davies's adaptation of Bleak House will be named best drama series at the awards lunch at the Theatre Royal in London. It was up against the BBC's revival of Doctor Who.

The success of Bleak House in the awards, voted for by more than 100 writers and broadcasters in the television and radio industry, bodes well for the series at the TV Baftas in May; it has four nominations.

Davies said he wanted the drama to appeal to younger viewers in the same way as soap operas like Hollyoaks.

Armando Iannucci and his writing team will win the writers' award for The Thick of It, beating Andrew Davies and Russell T Davies (Doctor Who). The expletive-laden political comedy, shown on BBC4 and BBC2, also wins the best comedy award, beating Love Soup and Extras.

Another wry take on the contemporary political landscape, More 4's A Very Social Secretary, Alistair Beaton's comic drama about David Blunkett's affair with Kimberly Quinn, wins best single drama. It was chosen over Channel 4's The Government Inspector, which dramatised the events leading to the death of David Kelly, the BBC's Much Ado About Nothing and Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Jamie Oliver will be named best performer, and his Channel 4 show Jamie's School Dinners, wins best documentary series.

Jonathan Ross wins the radio broadcaster of the year award for his Radio 2 show, with Ed Reardon's Week chosen as radio programme of the Year. Martin Scorsese's BBC2 documentary No Direction Home - Bob Dylan, has been voted best single documentary.

Podcasting will also be recognised in a new innovation award, which goes to BBC Radio and Music Interactive.

The winners

* Harvey Lee award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting: Melvyn Bragg

* Best drama series: Bleak House, BBC1

* Best actor: Charles Dance, Bleak House, BBC1

* Best actress: Gillian Anderson, Bleak House, BBC1

* Best performer: Jamie Oliver Jamie's School Dinners, Channel 4

* Best single drama: A Very Social Secretary, More 4/Channel 4

* Best documentary series: Jamie's School Dinners, Channel 4

* Best single documentary: Arena: No Direction Home - Bob Dylan, BBC2

* Best comedy: The Thick of It, BBC4/BBC2

* Radio broadcaster of the year: Jonathan Ross BBC Radio 2

* Radio programme of the year: Ed Reardon's Week, BBC Radio 4

* Writer's award: Armando Iannucci and team The Thick of It, BBC4/BBC2

* Multichannel award: Ross Kemp on Gangs, Sky One

* Innovation Award: BBC Radio and Music Interactive

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