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Small Island is the toast of Royal Television Society Awards

Small Island

Story by Jack Foley

BBC drama Small Island landed two of the top acting honours at the Royal Television Society Awards on Tuesday night (March 16, 2010), for stars Naomie Harris and David Oyelowo.

Harris beat Julie Walters, nominated for BBC One drama A Short Stay in Switzerland, and Suranne Jones, who starred in Unforgiven, to the best actress prize, while Oyelowo was named best actor for his work on the adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel.

A delighted Harris immediately thanked her mother at the ceremony, describing her as her “accent coach”.

“Without her I don’t think [my character] Hortense would have been half as good as she was,” she said.

The ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London was hosted by Gavin and Stacey star Rob Brydon.

Comedian Harry Hill scooped the top prize of the night, beating Michael McIntyre and Ant and Dec to best entertainment performance for his TV Burp show on ITV1.

But the night belonged mostly to the BBC, which one 18 of the 25 main prizes up for grabs.

The corporation also took home the coveted best drama prize for its BBC1 drama The Street, created by Bafta-winning writer Jimmy McGovern and featuring an ensemble cast including Stephen Graham and Anna Friel. Ironically, the show was taken off air last year after its third series.

And soap favourite EastEnders pipped The Bill and Casualty in the soap and continuing drama category.

Acclaimed satire The Thick Of It took the best scripted comedy accolade, while BBC Four’s news review show Newswipe beat Simon Cowell’s two ITV1 shows Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor in the best entertainment section.

Louis Theroux was named best presenter for his BBC documentary A Place For Paedophiles, the provocative programme that featured interviews with convicted sex offenders in America.

And actress Miranda Hart won best comedy performance for her title role in BBC Two’s Miranda.

Of the other main winners, Heston Blumenthal triumphed in the features and lifestyle series category for his Channel 4 show Heston’s Feasts, which recreates Victorian recipes.

And Iain Morris and Damon Beesley won the award for comedy writing for E4’s The Inbetweeners.

Documentary film maker Norma Percy was presented with the Judges’ Prize, while Coronation Street creator Tony Warren was presented with the lifetime achievement award for his work on the long-running ITV soap, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this December.

American advertising drama Mad Men was recognised in the international section.