Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll, star of BBC1’s Mrs Brown’s Boys, saw off competition including Rev and Fresh Meat to win the Situation Comedy category.
O’Carroll said: “All we wanted to do was make people laugh and it seems to have worked.”
The event, also hosted by an Irish comedian, Dara O’Briain, is one of the biggest show business bashes of the year.
Host O'Briain told the audience he was only there because he sounded ``exactly the same'' as Graham Norton who hosted last night's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest, before poking fun at Simon Cowell who he compared to the ``unnatural bronzed face'' of the Bafta Award.
Earlier stars including Ricky Gervais, EastEnder Jacqueline Jossa and Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch paraded in the sunshine on a Union flag-themed red, white and blue carpet at tonight’s TV Baftas.
They were joined by some of the biggest names from the small screen including Holly Willoughby, Dominic West and the cast of Coronation Street who posed for pictures and signed autographs on a blazing hot day outside the Royal Festival Hall by the Thames in London.
Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss joked: “It feels a bit like Cannes because it’s so warm – it’s the closest I’ll ever get to Cannes.”
The first award, for Drama Series, was presented by The Wire star West and Emilia Fox, with the actor having to pass autocue duties to Fox when he forgot his glasses.
The award went to BBC3 show The Fades which was cancelled recently by the corporation.
Scriptwriter Jack Thorne said he was “amazed and shocked” and put his success down to the “lucky socks” he was wearing.
Newsreader Kate Silverton then presented the Single Documentary award to BBC2’s Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die – the best-selling author’s examination of euthanasia.
Pratchett, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, thanked the BBC for “allowing us to tackle this rather strange subject for a documentary”.
He also paid tribute to the family of Peter Smedley who allowed the documentary film to show his final days in the run-up to his death at a clinic.
Pratchett said: “It turned us about a bit but we saw what happened and so did you.”
The award for New Media went to Psychoville and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle picked up the Comedy Programme gong.
The award for News Coverage was presented by Clare Balding to Channel 4 News for coverage of the Japan earthquake.
The award for Single Drama went to Channel 4’s Random and the Current Affairs gong was given to BBC1’s Panorama: Undercover Care – The Abuse Exposed.
The Factual Series award went to BBC3’s Our War which followed British troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
The International Award was handed out by actress Vicky McClure and actor Sam Claflin to the critically-acclaimed Danish political drama Borgen.
Actor Timothy Spall presented Monica Dolan with the Supporting Actress Bafta which he described as the gong for “Best Upstager”.
Dolan, who played Rose West in ITV’s Appropriate Adult, said the role had been “a privilege”.
She paid tribute to the West’s victims, many of whom were never reported missing, saying: “I’d love to live in a world where everyone was missed.”
Coronation Street scooped the award for Soap and Continuing Drama.
Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, accepted the award and praised the “team effort” behind the long-running show.
Olympians Dame Kelly Holmes and Jonathan Edwards presented the award for Sport and Live Event to the team behind BBC1’s coverage of the Royal Wedding.
The award for Supporting Actor went to Andrew Scott who played the villainous Moriarty in Sherlock.
Scott, who beat his co-star Martin Freeman to pick up the award, thanked his “Mum and Dad” and paid tribute to the “exceptionally talented Mr Benedict Cumberbatch” who plays Sherlock.
Speaking backstage, Scott said he had not watched earlier versions of Moriarty.
He said: “I just tried to look at what’s dark within my own self.”
The award for Entertainment Performance went to Norton.
Among the names he beat to the award were host O’Briain who joked he could not begrudge him “because he’s spent the last 24 hours comforting Engelbert Humperdinck”.
The award for Reality and Constructed Factual show went to The Young Apprentice and was accepted by Lord Sugar who confessed to feeling “a bit of a fraud” for picking it up and praised “the real heroes” who made the show.
The Specialist Factual award went to Channel 4's Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret.
The show illustrated how the ancient Egyptians mummified bodies by using the corpse of a recently deceased Torquay taxi driver, Alan Billis.
The Special Award was presented to Sherlock and Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat by the shows’ two stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith.
Sherlock actor Cumberbatch described Moffat as “a word machine” and said “his name is a byword for quality family entertainment”, while Doctor Who star Smith described the writer as “brilliantly cantankerous”.
Accepting the award, the Scot said he owed a great deal to “the two best things the British have ever given to the world: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who”.
He also paid tribute to his colleague and wife, Sue Vertue, who he said was “the best and wisest women I have ever married”.
Here is the list of winners at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2012 :
Leading actor - Dominic West (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Leading actress - Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Supporting actor - Andrew Scott (Sherlock, BBC1)
Supporting actress - Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Entertainment performance - Graham Norton (The Graham Norton Show, BBC1)
Female performance in a comedy programme - Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely
Male performance in a comedy programme - Darren Boyd (Spy, Sky One)
Special Award - Steven Moffat
Bafta Fellowship - Rolf Harris
Single drama - Random (Channel 4)
Mini series - This Is England '88 (Channel 4)
Drama series - The Fades (BBC3)
Soap and continuing drama - Coronation Street(ITV1)
International - Borgen (BBC4)
Factual series - Our War (BBC3)
Specialist factual - Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret (Channel 4)
Single documentary - Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die (BBC2)
Features - The Great British Bake Off (BBC2)
Reality & Constructed Factual - The Young Apprentice (BBC1)
Current Affairs - Panorama: Undercover Care - The Abuse Exposed (BBC1)
News Coverage - Channel 4 News: Japan Earthquake (Channel 4)
Sport & Live Event - The Royal Wedding (BBC1)
New Media - Psychoville (BBC Online)
Entertainment Programme - Derren Brown: The Experiments (Channel 4)
Comedy Programme - Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (BBC2)
Situation Comedy - Mrs Brown's Boys (BBC1)
YouTube Audience Award - Celebrity Juice (ITV2)