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Television Awards Winners Announced

26 April 2009
BAFTA masks wait to be presented at the Orange British Academy Film Awards.

The winners of the British Academy Television Awards were announced at a star-studded ceremony in London's Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 26 April.

Victory for Sir David Attenborough – half a century since his first win

Channel 4 wins seven BAFTAs, ITV five, and BBC One wins four

Harry Enfield, Bruce Parry, Stephen Dillane & Kenneth Branagh win their first television BAFTAs

Harry Hill is victorious again, while X Factor reclaims the entertainment crown

First time winner The Bill wins the battle of the Soaps

The crowds on London’s South Bank were treated to the cream of British Television talent as presenters and nominees arrived at the Royal Festival Hall, for the British Academy Television Awards, hosted by Graham Norton. This year’s stellar line-up included David Tennant, James Nesbitt, Jonathan Ross, Lindsay Duncan, Jools Holland, Ant & Dec, Louis Theroux, Michael McIntyre and Dame Helen Mirren, to name but a few.

48 years after receiving his first BAFTA, Sir David Attenborough picked up the Specialist Factual(1) BAFTA for Life In Cold Blood, his third BAFTA(2) and the sixth for his globally acclaimed wildlife series(3).

Harry Enfield received the coveted BAFTA mask for the first time, alongside four-time winner Paul Whitehouse in the Comedy Programme category for BBC One’s Harry & Paul. Another first was The Bill (ITV1) claiming victory over EastEnders, Casualty and Emmerdale in the fiercely contested Continuing Drama category.

Harry Hill’s Entertainment Performance in ITV1’s Harry Hill’s TV Burp, saw him triumph for the second year running, ahead of Stephen Fry for QI, Ant and Dec for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Jonathan Ross for Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. C4 had a strong showing in Comedy; David Mitchell won in the Comedy Performance category for Peep Show while The IT Crowd triumphed in Situation Comedy.

In a television, theatre and film career spanning some 24 years, Stephen Dillane received his first BAFTA in the Actor category for his sensitive and intelligent portrayal of a grieving father fighting for justice following the death of his son, in C4’s The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall. He fought off strong competition from Ken Stott (Hancock and Joan), Jason Isaacs (The Curse of Steptoe) and Ben Whishaw (Criminal Justice). Anna Maxwell Martin, who won the Actress BAFTA back in 2005 for her portrayal of Esther Summerson in Bleak House, claimed victory once again in this category, this time for her role as the troubled and malevolent mental-health patient ‘N’ in Poppy Shakespeare, ahead of rivals June Brown (EastEnders), Maxine Peake (Hancock and Joan) and Andrea Riseborough (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley).

Despite its widely reported financial woes, ITV had something to smile about tonight, claiming five victories. Its entertainment juggernaut, X Factor, reclaimed its crown after winning in 2005 and 2006 in the Entertainment Programme(4) category, over rivals QI, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Friday/Sunday Night Project. ITV1 also saw a third consecutive win for its coverage of Formula One with ITV1 F1: Brazilian Grand Prix 2008 winning in the Sport category, while News At Ten won News Coverage for its reporting of the Chinese Earthquake.

Aside from the Continuing Drama category, BBC One was victorious in all of the other drama categories; Kenneth Branagh received his first BAFTA as a producer for his highly acclaimed Wallander in the Drama Series category, beating previous winners Spooks, Shameless and Doctor Who, while powerful courtroom drama Criminal Justice saw off rivals Dead Set, The Devil’s Whore and House of Saddam in Drama Serial. The Single Drama BAFTA went to White Girl and the award-winning BBC acquisition, Mad Men, was victorious in a strong line-up for the International category, which included cult hit The Wire, Dexter and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Top Gear, The Apprentice and first time-nominee Celebrity MasterChef were all outperformed by The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing (the sequel to previous BAFTA winner The Choir) which was the proud recipient of the BAFTA mask for Features. The Interactivity BAFTA went to Embarrassing Bodies Online.

In the Factual Series category, Bruce Parry received his first BAFTA for Amazon with Bruce Parry beating Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, Blood Sweat and T-Shirts and fly-on-the-wall documentary series The Family, while Saving Africa’s Witch Children was victorious in Current Affairs. Brian Wood’s powerful documentary Chosen, featuring very personal and disturbing accounts of sexual abuse by teachers at the Caldicott Prep School in the 1960s, triumphed in Single Documentary(5).

This year’s public vote for the Philips Audience Award was won by Skins, over rivals The Apprentice, Coronation Street, Outnumbered, Wallander, and X Factor. The public voted online, by text and by phone.

The Fellowship, the highest accolade bestowed by the Academy, was presented to Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in recognition of their outstanding body of work which includes French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, Jam and Jerusalem, The Life and Times of Vivienne Lyle, the immensely popular The Vicar of Dibley and many memorable appearances for Comic Relief. The Award was presented to them by Dame Helen Mirren and Richard Curtis.

The Special Award, presented by David Tennant, went to the BBC’s former controller of BBC Fiction, Jane Tranter who was responsible for the hugely successful renaissance of Doctor Who and for leading a stable of diverse productions such as Tess Of The D'Urbevilles, Gavin and Stacey, Life On Mars, Summer Heights High, Survivors, Blackpool, Heroes, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, A Short Stay In Switzerland and for acclaimed costume dramas such as Little Dorrit, Bleak House, and Cranford.

Red carpet highlights, backstage interviews with all the winners, clips of the nominated programmes and all the latest images from the night’s events will be free to view online at

TV09 Winners Press Release (106.9 KB)

Notes To Editors

  • (1) The Specialist Factual category is in honour of Huw Wheldon
  • (2) In 1961 Sir David Attenborough won an Individual Honour award and in 1970 he won the Desmond Davis Award
  • (3) In 1990 The Trial of Life won, in 1993 Life In The Freezer won, in 1997 Wildlife Special: Polar Bear won, in 1998 The Life Of Birds won, in 1999 Wildlife Special: Tiger won
  • (4)The Entertainment Programme category is in honour of Lew Grade
  • (5)The Single Documentary category is in honour of Robert Flaherty

Wins by channel:

Channel 4 has won 7, ITV1 has won 5, BBC One has won 4, BBC Two has won 3, BBC Four has won 1 (BBC has won 8 in total).

Eligibility period for the awards: Calendar year 2008

About BAFTA: The British Academy of Film and television Arts supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

Philips Audience Award is for the Programme of the Year in 2008 and is the only award voted for by the public. The shortlist was compiled by panellists from a broad range of print media and the public voted online, by text and by phone.