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Tracey Ullman and friends put girl power into the Emmy limelight

British actresses stole the limelight at America's prestigious television awards in Los Angeles this weekend as Tracey Ullman and Diana Rigg were each awarded an Emmy in a ceremony watched by an estimated 620 million television viewers worldwide.

Ullman won her award for best variety, music or comedy series with Tracey Takes All. She said: "As the Spice Girls could say: `Girl Power!' I beat the boys."

Rigg won the outstanding supporting actress award for her role in the mini-series of Rebecca. There was also acclaim for British star Helen Mirren as Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgement won best mini-series for the third time. But Mirren lost out in the best-actress awards.

Frasier was named best comedy for the fourth consecutive year while Law & Order was a first-time winner as best drama, making NBC the top network at the 49th annual Emmy Awards. In the acting categories three of the sections mirrored last year's winners - NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz as best actor in a drama, Helen Hunt, in Mad About You, best actress in a comedy, and John Lithgow as best actor in a comedy for his role as an alien in human form in Third Rock from the Sun, which won five awards.

The only newcomer in the top acting categories was Gillian Anderson as best actress in a drama, for The X-Files. HBO's mini-series Miss Evers' Boys, about government experiments on black men with syphilis, also won five Emmys, including one for Alfre Woodard as best actress in a mini-series.

One major surprise was NBC's hospital drama ER, which had the most nominations, with 22, but which won only three technical Emmys.

- David Lister