Merton splutters with surprise as the news for him is a Bafta
Monday 14 April 2003
Paul Merton settled old scores at the Baftas last night while Ricky Gervais repeated his success of last year with a double win for The Office.
Merton triumphed over Angus Deayton to win a Bafta for the current affairs quizHave I Got News For You.
Merton and Deayton had been nominated for the Bafta for best entertainment performance. Deayton, 47, had been in the running despite being sacked from the quiz last October after newspaper reports about his private life.
The depth of the rivalry between the two men was revealed during an appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show on Saturday, when Merton said he did not consider Deayton a friend and that he had urged him to leave the show before he was made to resign last October.
Merton, who has appeared on the show for 14 years, spat out his beer in surprise at the television awards ceremony at the London Palladium when his win was announced.
"They say the closer you sit to the stage, the better chance you have of winning. Angus Deayton is sat in row G at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane," he said.
Gervais, co-creator and star of The Office, collected the prize for best comedy performance as David Brent, the boss of a Slough paper merchants. The show was also named best sitcom.
Dressed in a white suit, he said his primary concern for the evening was sartorial, joking: "I'm scared someone is going to spill chocolate mousse on me."
Gervais said he was in the middle of developing a one-off special episode of The Office.
David Jason received a Bafta fellowship, joining the ranks of previous winners including the late John Thaw, Albert Finney and Dame Judi Dench. Jason, 63, was given a standing ovation as he collected a Bafta for his contribution to broadcasting.
Collecting the prize from Ronnie Barker, who made a rare public appearance, Jason said: "I'm very moved and very honoured to find myself in this position. The lad from Finchley hasn't done too bad over the years."
In the 36 years that Jason has appeared on British television he has created some of the most popular characters in the history of the medium, including Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses and Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May.
Britain's longest running soap, Coronation Street, saw off EastEnders for the title of best soap the first time it has won the award.
The show's producer, Kieran Roberts, joined by members of the cast as he collected the award, said "It's been a great year for us."
Julie Walters claimed the best actress prize for her role in BBC2's Murder, which studied the impact of a child killing.
She joked: "Thank you Bafta, you shouldn't have ... well, maybe you should have."
The best entertainment show prize went to ITV1's celebrity survival series I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!
The show won high ratings and helped revive the careers of the winner, DJ Tony Blackburn. Blackburn said last night: "It's amazing when you come to think of it. I go out to Australia to collect logs for a fortnight and we get this. How wonderful." Sky News embarrassed the BBC and ITN by winning the award for the best news coverage with its reports on the Soham murder investigation.
The best current affairs programme went to the Channel 4 documentary Young Nazi and Proud.
Kenneth Branagh won the prize for top drama serial for Shackleton, his Channel 4 two-parter which chronicled the explorer's polar adventures.
Channel 4's Faking It, in which people are plunged into new professions, took the best features prize.
Albert Finney repeated his success at the Emmys by picking up the best actor award for his role in The Gathering Storm, in which he played Winston Churchill.
The following is the full list of Bafta winners:
Best Actor: Albert Finney, The Gathering Storm, BBC2
Best Actress:Julie Walters Murder, BBC2
Best Entertainment Performance: Paul Merton Have I Got News For You? BBC2
Best Comedy Performance: Ricky Gervais, The Office, BBC2
Best Single Drama:Conspiracy, BBC2
Best Drama Series:Spooks, BBC1
Best Drama Serial:Shackleton, Kenneth Branagh, C4
Best Entertainment Programme: I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here, ITV1
Hugh Weldon Award for Factual Series or Strand:The Trust, C4
Flaherty Documentary:Feltham Sings, C4
Best Soap: Coronation Street, ITV1
Best Feature:Faking It, C4
Best Sport: Commonwealth Games, BBC1
Best News Coverage:Soham, Sky
Best Current Affairs:Young Nazi and Proud, C4
Radio Times Lew Grade Audience Award: Foyle's War, ITV
Best Sitcom:The Office, BBC2
Best Comedy Programme or Series: Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, BBC1
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