Triumph for comedian as awards event goes dark

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MIRIAM MARGOYLES, the actress/comedian not nominated for any accolade, stole the show at a West End theatre awards ceremony yesterday when she improvised a stand-up comedy act after the generator failed.

The Evening Standard Drama Awards lunch was thrown into turmoil as the generator used to broadcast the awards on television failed during the opening minutes of the ceremony. Leading actors and actresses blanched as they were warned by Ned Sherrin, master of ceremonies, that they might have to do without autocues. The lights were out for more than 20 minutes and as stars started to leave, Miss Margoyles, who had been about to present the first award, grabbed the microphone and embarked on a series of Jewish jokes and patter that nearly brought the house down.

The incident was ironic for Carlton Television, broadcasting the event on a day that saw the company announce a merger with Central Television. It inevitably became the butt of some jokes. Richard Eyre, head of the National Theatre, who had earlier been playfully proposed as a replacement for Graham Taylor, the England football team manager, said that Mr Taylor was now working for Carlton.

The 1993 awards were notable for the show City Of Angels, taken off because of falling attendances and a loss of pounds 2m, beating Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard for the best musical award. Ian Holm, away from the London stage for more than a decade after a serious attack of stage fright, was a popular winner of the best actor award for his performance in Harold Pinter's play Moonlight. Fiona Shaw's tour de force in Machinal, the rediscovered 1920s feminist play, won best actress award.

Tom Stoppard's Arcadia won best play award and Terry Hands won the best director award for Tamburlaine the Great. Simon Donald (The Life Of Stuff) and Brad Fraser (Unidentified Human Remains) shared the award for most promising playwright. Ken Campbell's Jamais Vu was best comedy. A new prize went to Diana Rigg, for services to the theatre.