'Life on Mars' takes top award as British shows sparkle at International Emmys in New York

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The Independent Online

It was a triumphant night for British television as home-grown shows took six prizes at the International Emmys, including awards for Life on Mars, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Little Britain and Vincent, starring Ray Winstone.

Life On Mars, the quirky series about a detective who finds himself transported back in time to 1973 when he falls into a coma, was named best drama series at the event, which was hosted by Graham Norton and honoured TV programmes produced outside the US.

John Simm stars in the show as Detective Inspector Sam Tyler, who is astonished by the working methods of the 1970s police.

Jane Featherstone, executive producer at Kudos, the makers of the drama, said that she was delighted by the show's recognition. "We are thrilled that the exploits of a man who doesn't know if he's in a coma or mad and his sexist brute of a partner have been recognised with an Emmy," Featherstone said. The second series will be broadcast on BBC1 early next year.

The multi award-winning comedy series Little Britain, which established David Walliams and Matt Lucas at the heart of the comedy circuit in Britain, claimed the title of best comedy, while Ray Winstone was crowned best actor for his role as a workaholic investigator in the television drama Vincent. Winstone's daughter, Jamie, who appeared in an episode of the drama, collected the award on behalf of her father, and said: "I'm so proud of him. He's inspirational, an amazing dad."

Gordon Ramsay, who is still awaiting New York's judgement on his first restaurant in the city, won acclaim for his Kitchen Nightmares show, which was voted best non-scripted entertainment show.

The Channel 4 series Sugar Rush, based on the Julie Burchill novel about a 15-year-old lesbian, won in the children and young people category.

The documentary award went to Hiroshima, a BBC co-production about the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city in August 1945.

The ceremony, which was held in the grand ballroom of the New York Hilton, ended with a special presentation to the veteran film director Steven Spielberg. Spielberg said he got his first break at 21, when he directed the supernatural TV show, Night Gallery. "I owe a lot to television," he added. "I got my start in television."

He also urged guests to consider the impact of their work on audiences. "We certainly need to be responsible... because what comes out the other end truly has changed the world and will continue to change the world, for better or worse. I'm happy to think it is changing the world for the better," he said.

In an interview before the ceremony, Spielberg signalled his concern over the level of violence and gore in programmes such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

British productions were nominated in all nine categories in one of the industry's most successful years in recent history.The UK had 17 of the 36 shortlisted programmes, more than any other country, but those that missed out last night included the parenting series Supernanny and the documentary John Peel's Record Box.

International winners included Maryam Hassouni, who took best actress for her portrayal of a Palestinian woman suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the Dutch television production Offers.

The top prize for a mini-series went to a French made-for-television movie, Nuit Noire, on the suppression of a demonstration by Algerians in Paris.

International Emmy winners

Drama Series

Life on Mars, Kudos Film & TV for BBC Wales (UK)

Best Actor

Ray Winstone as Vincent in Vincent, Granada (UK)

Young People's Programme

Sugar Rush, Shine/Channel 4 (UK)

Comedy

Little Britain, BBC Comedy (UK)

Documentary

Hiroshima BBC/ TFI /ZDF/ Discovery (UK)

Non-Scripted Entertainment

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Optomen for Channel 4 (UK)

TV Movie/Mini-Series

Nuit Noire, October 17, 1961 Cipango (France)

Arts Programme

Knowledge is the Beginning

EuroArts Music International with ZDF/ARTE (Germany)

Best Actress

Maryam Hassouni as Laila in Offers, VARA (Netherlands)

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