ITV may lift restriction on show hit by phone scandal

The British Comedy Awards are likely to be screened on ITV, even though the broadcaster said that it would not show the event this year following irregularities in a phone-in vote in 2005.

At the launch of the awards shortlist yesterday, executives from the company behind the ceremony were optimistic about negotiations with ITV, which is awaiting the outcome of an investigation by the law firm Olswang before reaching a decision on whether to televise the event, which is on 5 December.

The BBC 3 comedy Gavin and Stacey led the shortlist with seven nominations. The sitcom is nominated for best television comedy and best new television comedy. It is written by and stars Ruth Jones and James Corden, who were both nominated for best newcomer, along with their co-stars Mathew Horne and Joanna Page. Jones, who also stars in Steve Coogan's BBC 2 comedy Saxondale, was also shortlisted for best comedy actress. Among nominees for best comedy entertainment personality are Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins, below, of The Friday Night Project on Channel 4.

Jack Dee, who is up for best TV comedy actor for his BBC4 series Lead Balloon, criticised ITV for "postponing" the awards – now in their 18th year – while other shows that have been found guilty of phone-in irregularities have been allowed to remain on air. "It would be unfair if Blue Peter, GMTV and The X Factor were all allowed to continue [but not the comedy awards]," said Dee. "Why should this show get punished for a small misdemeanour by comparison?"

The decision to drop the event came after it emerged that two years ago members of the public were still voting for the viewers' choice award at up to 35p a call even after the winners – Ant and Dec – had been chosen. But it is believed that ITV was surprised by the outcry, including from its own staff, over the decision to drop the awards, and so paid the producers, Michael Hurll Television, around £700,000 to stop the event from being poached by rival broadcasters Channel 4 and Sky.

The nominees

BEST TELEVISION COMEDY ACTOR

David Mitchell – Peep Show, Channel 4

Jack Dee – Lead Balloon, BBC 4

Kevin Bishop – Star Stories, Channel 4

Lee Mack – Not Going Out, BBC 1

BEST TELEVISION COMEDY ACTRESS

Catherine Tate – The Catherine Tate Show, BBC2

Liz Smith – The Royle Family, BBC1

Ruth Jones – Gavin & Stacey/Saxondale, BBC 3/BBC 2

BEST COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PERSONALITY

Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins – The Friday Night Project, Channel 4

Simon Amstell – Never Mind The Buzzcocks, BBC 2

Stephen Fry – QI, BBC 2

BEST MALE COMEDY NEWCOMER

James Corden – Gavin & Stacey

Mathew Horne, Gavin & Stacey

Matt Berry – The IT Crowd, Channel 4

BEST FEMALE COMEDY NEWCOMER

Joanna Page – Gavin & Stacey

Ruth Jones – Gavin & Stacey Sharon Horgan – Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive/ Pulling – BBC 3/BBC 3

BEST NEW BRITISH TELEVISION COMEDY

Gavin & Stacey

Lead Balloon – BBC 4

Not Going Out

BEST TELEVISION COMEDY

Gavin & Stacey

Peep Show

Star Stories

BEST NEW COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME

Al Murray's Happy Hour – ITV 1

Fonejacker – E4

The Graham Norton Show – BBC 2

BEST COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME

Harry Hill's TV Burp – ITV 1

Never Mind The Buzzcocks The Friday Night Project

BEST LIVE STAND-UP

Alan Carr

Dara O'Briain

Simon Amstell

BEST INTERNATIONAL COMEDY SHOW

Curb Your Enthusiam – HBO for More4

The Office: An American Workplace – NBC Universal for ITV 2

The Simpsons – 20th Century Fox for Sky One/Channel 4

BEST COMEDY FILM

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – 20th Century Fox

Hot Fuzz – Universal

The Simpsons Movie – 20th Century Fox

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