Stephen Fry gave an emotional speech at the glitzy National Television Awards after being surprised with a special recognition accolade.
The QI presenter, who is also known for his roles in comedies Jeeves and Butler and Blackadder, attended the event at London's 02 Arena after Stephen Fry In America was nominated for Most Popular Star Travel Documentary, which he won.
Little did he know he was also in line for the Recognition, which was presented to him by Bamber Gascoigne, who hosted University Challenge when Fry took part while he was a student - his first appearance on television.
Fry was visibly moved by the award, and by the tribute tape which included accolades from the Prince of Wales, comedian Jo Brand and former collaborator Hugh Laurie.
He said: "I really am completely staggered by this, I had no idea it was going to happen and I feel so unworthy of the most remarkable tribute I've ever seen.
"I wish I were worthy of 10 per cent of it but one thing I hope it got across is how unbelievable lucky I have been to live and work in British television during an age which people will look back on as a blessed age in which people were allowed to try out new ideas and to entertain and to inform to enlighten - to be silly."
He added: "I have the highest possible belief in television. At its best I think of it as the nation's fireplace about which we can gather together and be lit by its light and warmed by its heat and it can make us feel better about each other and it can make us feel better about ourselves."
There was also a surprise win for ITV soap Coronation Street, which in its 50th anniversary year, was voted Most Popular Serial Drama by viewers, beating its rival EastEnders.
William Roache, who has starred as Ken Barlow in the soap since the first episode, said: "We might be 50 years old but we have a heartbeat like a cannon."
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Antony Cotton said: "For the past few years EastEnders has won... we were all a bit shocked and amazed not because we don't do a great job but this one we sometimes don't win."
But there were no surprises in the Outstanding Drama Performance category, in which former Doctor Who actor David Tennant won for the fourth time.
Doctor Who has traditionally triumphed at the NTAs since its return to our screens, and Tennant used the 2008 ceremony to announce his departure from the BBC science fiction series.
Accepting the award from the Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown, Tennant said: "I've loved Doctor Who since I was tiny, I was slightly obsessed, never missed an episode, so about five years ago when it became a more central part of my life there was a fear it might have been an anti-climax or some sort of disappointment.
"But because of the brilliant people who work on it, Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, and the incredible cast and the exceptional people who make the show down at BBC Wales in Cardiff, the whole thing exceeded my expectations. And that's due in no small part to the incredible audience that we've enjoyed. Thank you all so much. Thank you for watching."
The show also beat competition from The Bill, Casualty and Shameless to be crowned Most Popular Drama tonight.
Simon Cowell's hit singing competition The X Factor won Most Popular Talent Show, stealing the crown from its rival Strictly Come Dancing, which won at the last ceremony.
Cowell later announced that he would making a song to raise money for the Haiti earthquake appeal.
He said: "We made the decision today. We had a request from the Prime Minister and The Sun newspaper, 'Would we put a record together?', so we haven't got a lot of time but we are going to do something, and attempt to raise as much money as possible."
He said that fellow judge Cheryl Cole "would love" to be part of it.
X Factor winner Joe McElderry performed Journey hit Don't Stop Believing during the ceremony, but he was upstaged by the competition's runners up, twins John and Edward Grimes.
They wowed the crowd with a mash up of Queen's Under Pressure and Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby, during which rapper Vanilla Ice appeared on stage, to loud gasps from the audience.
The awards were hosted by Dermot O'Leary, who this year took over from original host Sir Trevor MacDonald.
Winners of this year's National Television Awards:
Entertainment Presenters - Ant and Dec
Comedy Programme - Gavin and Stacey
Outstanding Serial Drama Performance - Lacey Turner, EastEnders
Most Popular Star Travel Documentary - Stephen Fry in America
Most Popular Newcomer - Craig Gazey, Coronation Street
Most Popular Entertainment Programme - Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway
Most Popular Drama - Dr Who
Most Popular Factual Programme - Loose Women
Most Popular Talent Show - X Factor
Outstanding Drama Performance - David Tennant, Dr Who
Best Serial Drama - Coronation Street
Special Recognition Award - Stephen Fry
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