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National Television Awards 2014: Julie Hesmondhalgh and Matt Smith among winners

Julie Hesmondhalgh

Story by Jack Foley

CORONATION Street‘s Julie Hesmondhalgh, aka Hayley Cropper, and Doctor Who star Matt Smith were among the big winners at the National Television Awards 2014.

Hesmondhalgh took the prize for best serial drama performance for her heartfelt, sensitive portrayal of terminally ill Hayley, while Smith – who departed the time-travelling drama – took best drama performance.

Doctor Who was also crowned best drama, beating Downton Abbey, Call The Midwife and hit ITV detective drama, Broadchurch (which ironically starred former Doctor Who David Tennant), while Coronation Street took best serial.

Smith’s final appearances on the show included last year’s record-breaking 50th anniversary special as well as the Christmas Day special, which saw him replaced as the Time Lord by Peter Capaldi.

In winning his award, which was collected on the night by writer Steven Moffat and co-star Jenna Coleman, Smith beat Miranda Hart, of Call The Midwife, Dame Maggie Smith, of Downton Abbey and Martin Clunes for Doc Martin.

Hesmondhalgh, meanwhile, drew a standing ovation as she took to the stage to collect her prize and encouraged co-star David Neilson to join her. The two stars, who played husband and wife in the soap, were seen parting company on screen this week as the emotional storyline surrounding Hayley’s cancer and decision to end her own life, came to its tear-jerking conclusion.

Other big winners at the ceremony included BBC favourite Mrs Brown’s Boys, which was named best TV comedy for a second year ahead of Derek, Miranda and The Big Bang Theory.

And I’m A Celebrity‚Ķ Get Me Out of Here! – which is hosted by Ant & Dec – won the prize for entertainment programme, beating Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

There was also a new prize this year for best TV detective, which went to Benedict Cumberbatch for BBC drama Sherlock – an award he accepted via a live satellite link and which was presented by 24 luminary Kiefer Sutherland, who is currently in London shooting 24: Live Another Day.

Educating Yorkshire, meanwhile, picked up best documentary.

The awards – which were held at London’s O2 Arena – are all decided by public vote, which has been open since January 7.