JUST what does Coronation Street have to do to win at the National Television Awards?
It was all fairly predictable at the Royal Albert Hall last night – aside from the emotional appearance on stage by the widow of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
Terri Irwin received a standing ovation after flying in from Australia to present a lifetime achievement award to Sir David Attenborough.
Fighting back tears, she said: “I promised I wasn’t going to cry.”
Wildlife presenter husband Steve – killed in September by a stingray’s barb – had been a huge fan of Sir David’s.
I turned up in London SW7 half an hour before the first of the early red carpet arrivals and left closer to midnight.
EastEnders carried home the Most Popular Serial Drama prize for the second year in a row – despite recording some of its lowest ever ratings over the last 12 months.
And Corrie? Over 15 members of the cast were there on the night after a memorable year in Weatherfield…and they all left empty-handed.
Now don’t get carried away with the idea that these TV awards ceremonies are a glam assignment.
The press are allocated a “media centre”, which usually consists of a room with a few tables and chairs, plus live TV feeds from the ceremony just a few metres across the corridor.
Next door is another room with a small stage where all the winners are brought after receiving their gongs, for photos and a brief chat.
Incredibly, the awards ran to time this year – although that doesn’t make them seem any shorter.
What you’ll see on ITV1 tonight is, of course, an edited version of a longer event.
It’s always frantic inside the media zone with deadlines looming and the story changing minute by minute.
But you can hardly call it work, can you?
And so to that disappointment for Corrie – and Emmerdale – both of which have had a much better year than EastEnders.
Sue Cleaver (Eileen Grimshaw) looked fabulous but lost out in the Most Popular Actress category, along with Bradley Walsh (Danny Baldwin) – nominated as Most Popular Actor. He was absent, on a family holiday.
Young actress Nikki Patel (above right), who plays Dev’s schoolgirl daughter Amber, also did Manchester proud in the fashion stakes. Norris would have fainted had he seen her. But Nikki missed out in the Most Popular Newcomer award.
Even recently departed Corrie actor Richard Fleeshman, who plays Berlin’s newest resident Craig Harris, failed to win the Most Popular TV Contender prize, despite his victory on hit Manchester show Soapstar Superstar.
Perhaps it was something to do with those new curls?
A total of 2.18m votes were cast by the public this year – double the figure for last year.
Are EastEnders fans more motivated to vote for their favourite show, compared to Corrie viewers? Is there a London bias to “National” TV Awards always held in the capital?
Whatever the reason, Corrie deserved better.
Highlights on the night for me included:
*Doctor Who David Tennant’s (left) beaming smile when he won Most Popular Actor, overjoyed to meet Sound of Music star Dame Julie Andrews, who handed over the award.
*Most Popular Actress Billie Piper’s (below right) grin on the media stage after telling the audience in the auditorium how much she missed co-starring with David. And recently departed Corrie actor John Savident handing over the gong.
*Both David and Billie were still grinning when they told me later that Manchester based writer Russell T Davies had to miss the awards because he was busy in Cardiff securing the future of Doctor Who – writing scenes for the new series, which is currently filming.
*Bolton-born Vernon Kay’s comic reading of a text message from Ant and Dec when he went up to collect one of their two prizes. The Geordie duo were missing, en route to Australia for the new series of I’m A Celebrity, but sent along Little Ant and Dec.
*Friends star David Schwimmer’s very funny speech before presenting the Most Popular Comedy title to Little Britain. Let’s hope it’s not cut out on TV tonight.
*Top Gear co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May’s (below left) double act as their show was named Most Popular Factual Programme after Richard Hammond’s 288mph crash last month. Clarkson said: “I told you if one of us had a car accident, we’d win this.”
*The X Factor’s Simon Cowell deep in conversation on a mobile in the back of his limo, a full 30 seconds after it had stopped at the red carpet with doors wide open.
*Cowell and Louis Walsh going up on stage to collect the Most Popular Entertainment Programme award with The X Factor host Kate Thornton, after nasty rumours last week that she might be replaced in the next series.
*And guess who they also called up to join them? Yes, very sadly, even though the clocks have gone back, it’s somehow still Chico time.
*Corrie stars looking stunning on the red carpet.
*The curled up cheese sandwich and glass of water I managed to find at the end of the night.
The National Television Awards, hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald, are on ITV1 at 8pm tonight.
There’s full coverage on Pg 3 of today’s MEN.
The online version, with a complete list of winners, is here.