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Emmys 2011: Downton Abbey and Kate Winslet win prizes

Downton Abbey

Story by Jack Foley

ACCLAIMED ITV drama Downton Abbey has led the British charge by winning four prizes at the annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, while actress Kate Winslet has also taken a leading acting award.

Downton‘s gongs included best mini-series and best supporting actress for Dame Maggie Smith, as well as best director (Brian Percival) for a mini-series and best writing for series creator Julian Fellowes.

Winslet, meanwhile, won the Emmy for her role in Mildred Pierce, a drama about a woman who bakes her way out of poverty.

Accepting her prize award, Winslet said she wanted to share the gong with her mother, saying: “It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you do in your life, you never stop needing your mum and I will never stop needing mine, so thanks mum, thank you so much.”

And upon accepting his prize, Fellowes joked: “When we were in the hotel a bit earlier, my wife said to me, ‘I think we should just relax and enjoy the evening, because I don’t think we’re going to win’. Well, we’re going to enjoy the evening now.”

He added: “And at the risk of sounding grandiloquent, I would like to thank you, the American industry. Ten years ago you kick-started my second career with an Oscar [for Gosford Park], tonight you have nurtured it, I am very grateful, thank you.”

Modern Family

In spite of the British success, the night’s biggest winner was ensemble comedy Modern Family, which scooped a grand total of five awards.

On-screen husband and wife Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen won the statues for supporting actor and actress in a comedy followed by Michael Alan Spiller for directing and Jeffrey Richman and Steve Levitan for writing.

It also won its second consecutive Emmy for outstanding comedy series, prompting show host Jane Lynch to quip upon returning from one commercial break: “Welcome back to the Modern Family Awards.”

Among the speeches, co-writer Levitan paid tribute to the creative team in front of and behind the camera, acknowledging that many had endured years of failed pilots, before alluding to the show’s contemporary themes, adding that fans weren’t just praising him for making them laugh, for but aso for making people more ‘tolerant’.

Scorsese, Mad Men and the rest

Martin Scorsese was named best director for a drama series for his pilot episode of Prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire, which dominated last week’s arts and crafts Emmys, taking home seven prizes including outstanding cinematography.

But the HBO programme was pipped by advertising drama Mad Men for the title of best drama series, its fourth successive Emmy.

Julianna Margulies won the Emmy for best dramatic actress for her role in The Good Wife while Kyle Chandler won best dramatic actor for playing a football coach in Friday Night Lights – one of the surprise nominees and a fitting end to the show’s climactic season.

Charlie Sheen took the stage to hand out the award for lead actor in a comedy, quipping “my old category”, before announcing Jim Parsons, of The Big Bang Theory, as the winner – the actor’s second consecutive Emmy for lead actor in a comedy.

Melissa McCarthy was then crowned outstanding lead actress in a comedy for her role on Mike and Molly.

Two of the night’s bigger surprises came in the supporting actor categories. Margo Martindale kicked off the drama category by winning the Emmy for supporting actress in FX’s Justified.

And, in an emotional speech, the 60-year-old veteran said: “Sometimes things just take time, but with time comes appreciation.”

Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, was named best supporting actor in a drama series for HBO’s Game of Thrones and promptly thanked HBO for their creativity and risk-taking, saying: “You let artists create, and that’s rare, unfortunately.”

He also thanked his dog sitter and fellow nominees, saying: “Any of you guys could be up here.”

Barry Pepper, who played Robert Kennedy in the controversial mini-series The Kennedys, was awarded the Emmy for supporting actor in a min-iseries or movie.

Guy Pearce, meanwhile, helped add to Mildred Pierce‘s awards total by taking the supporting actor statue and then joking that while he “got to have sex with Kate Winslet many, many times”, he “didn’t realize it was going to result in this”.

Kelly Macdonald also added to Boardwalk Empire‘s awards total by claiming supporting actress.

View the winners at a glance