A slightly strange evening at this year’s National Television Awards.
I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night just as news broke of Russell Brand’s resignation from his BBC show.
Swiftly followed by the announcement that David Tennant was quitting his role as Doctor Who after four specials next year.
That came at 7.27pm – half an hour before the awards began.
But details of his decision to leave, and an interview with David, were embargoed until after he spoke at the awards.
So most of the audience were hearing the news for the first time when he announced it via a live video link during the ceremony.
Normally the awards are screened “as live” on ITV1, with a time lag of around half an hour to actual events at the Albert Hall.
This year they really were live.
And because of TV’s paranoia after various viewer voting scandals, the embargoed results weren’t revealed in the backstage media room until the awards had actually started.
We were told they’d had to be audited and verified twice.
But the late release meant the results missed the early editions of most of today’s national newspapers.
But not, thankfully, the early morning edition of the MEN.
You can read the online version of the story here.
I felt very sorry for the actresses and presenters in frocks who endured a freezing walk up the red carpet.
Even under the TV lights, it was icy cold.
Coronation Street stars did their best to warm everyone up.
They were among the most dazzling of the night.
With special mentions to, among others, Michelle Keegan and Katherine Kelly.
All too predictably, they lost out in the categories they were nominated for.
And EastEnders yet again beat Corrie to the Most Popular Serial Drama prize.
Which is where the National TV Awards have a problem.
All of the awards voted for by the public are still prefaced with the words “Most Popular”.
Aside from Outstanding Serial Drama Performance and Outstanding Drama Performance.
So it should be simple, shouldn’t it?
The winners of the 10 main awards are the nominees which attract the most votes.
But certain shows attract an audience more likely to vote online, for example.
They may have organised web fan forums to co-ordinate voting.
Including keen fans who create multiple email addresses for themselves so they can vote lots more than just the once allowed.
If you’re going to go down the route of having awards for the most popular programmes or performances, then surely there’s a better indicator?
It’s called the ratings.
But then that would make the NTAs redundant.
And ITV1 would miss out on a glitzy awards show which pulls in valuable ad revenue.
While it’s great to see your favourites win, I’ve always thought TV awards shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Whether it’s Most Popular or Best, there is, of course, a glow of achievement for those lucky enough to carry home a gong.
But, for example, David Tennant as the Time Lord and Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt are equally fabulous.
So why do we need to choose between them?
One may possibly be more popular in terms of viewing figures.
But how can you really say one performance is better than the other one?
Ex-Hollyoaks star Matt Littler defied the usual odds against the Cheshire soap when he won Outstanding Serial Drama Performance.
The Bury-born actor was still stunned when I spoke to him backstage.
Stockport-raised Tess Daly was also beaming when she chatted after Strictly Come Dancing scooped Most Popular Talent Show.
There was a grimace from Simon Cowell on the press stage as he held his Special Recognition Award.
He was still upset that The X Factor had lost out to Strictly.
Although there was a suspicion that Simon was, in fact, joking.
The most poignant moment of the evening was mostly lost in the mix of other stories.
It came after ITV1’s Benidorm was named Most Popular Comedy Programme.
After collecting the award, Sheila Reid, who plays Madge, paid tribute to legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins.
He died in a road accident in August which robbed the TV industry of one of its greatest talents.
She described how Geoffrey had “supported us, loved us, encouraged us, inspired us. And we dedicate this award to him”.
In the fickle world of television, it was perhaps the most fitting accolade of the entire night.
Littler’s Big Win
TV Awards Blogs