Caroline Aherne wins two television Oscars

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The Independent Online

The comedy actress Caroline Aherne was the clear winner at British television's equivalent of the Oscars last night as she and The Royle Family won two awards.

Aherne beat two of her series co-stars, Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, to the best comedy performance title at the British Academy Television Awards, as well as collecting the best sitcom prize.

Dame Thora Hird took the best actress title for the second year running, for her performance in the drama Lost for Words. Dame Thora, 88, arrived in a wheelchair but was supported by the drama's writer, Deric Longden, as she went on stage to collect her prize and told guests: "Sorry about the comedy walk, we thought it would get a laugh."

Neville Lawrence, father of the murdered teenager Stephen, was present to see a dramatisation of the investigation into his son's death take the best single drama title. Mark Redhead, one of the film-makers behind The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, said: "The producers, writers and directors in our industry should not point the finger at the police but look at our own industry and attempt to do more to address and celebrate the wonderful thing that is multi-cultural Britain."

Sacha Baron Cohen, whose Ali G character was widely tipped to take the best entertainment performance award, was beaten by Graham Norton, presenter of So Graham Norton on Channel 4.

Viewers voted ITV's A Touch of Frost the winner of the Lew Grade audience award for the second year running. The BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs series, which recreated prehistoric times, won a Bafta in the newly created innovation category.

The female stars of The Avengers were given a special award for changing the perception of women on television. Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley, Dame Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson were given the accolade which they dedicated to their co-star Patrick Macnee. Lumley said: "In most shows where you're popular they ask you to come back. In The Avengers they just changed the women."

John Simpson and colleagues at BBC News won the journalism award for their coverage of the Kosovo conflict.

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