Irish actor Stephen Rea and host Graham Norton among winners at television Baftas

Irish actor Stephen Rea was among the winners at last night’s Baftas in London, scooping the best supporting actor for his role as Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle in BBC2’s The Honourable Woman.

Graham Norton took a break from hosting duties to collect an award for The Graham Norton Show.

“Yay me”, he told the audience. “It’s much quicker when I win. I should win most things.”

The comic opened the ceremony with a string of one-liners to get the celebration started after what he called “election fatigue”. He quipped: “We bid farewell to Clegg, Miliband, and Farage. On the upside, the makers of Top Gear have just had an idea.”

Georgina Campbell was a surprise win of the night after claiming leading actress award for her portrayal of a domestic violence victim in BBC 3’s Murdered by My Boyfriend.

Shaking as she picked up her gong, the little-known actress said: “This is insane. The women who are in this category are absolutely brilliant.

“If I have the career they have in a few years time I will count myself very, very, lucky.”

BBC bosses will be left red-faced by the win — just as the corporation moves to axe the digital channel and replace it with an online-only service.

Benedict Cumberbatch took home one of the top television Baftas of the night, named best leading actor for his role as master detective Sherlock Holmes.

But the Hollywood actor was not at the ceremony to collect the award, and was said to be looking after his pregnant wife.

The gong goes some way to make up for his Oscar disappointment earlier this year, when he was beaten to the best actor award by Eddie ‘Stephen Hawking’ Redmayne.

He fought off Toby Jones for Marvellous, James Nesbitt for The Missing, and Jason Watkins for The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies.

It is Cumberbatch’s third nomination for his performance in Sherlock, which won the audience award for best TV show, beating the likes of Cilla, EastEnders, and The Great British Bake-off.

Comedian Jessica Hynes used her win for best female performance in a comedy programme to make a stand against ongoing austerity cuts. The actress, who won her award for playing Siobhan Sharpe in W1A, told the audience to rapturous applause: “I’m from a single-parent family. I’m really worried about the cuts that are coming in state education and to people in low income families. Because I don’t feel low income means low talent, low imagination, or low intelligence.”

Ant and Dec are the first winners of the night. Their ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway beat competition from Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice, and Dynamo: Magician Impossible for the best entertainment programme.

Accepting the award, Ant told the audience: “What a great start to the show — for us. We’re delighted with it, thrilled. We love making this show.”

Foreign reporter Alex Crawford was part of the Sky News Live at Five team which picked up the gong for best news coverage for their “brave” reports on the ebola epidemic.

The soap war was again won by ITV’s Coronation Street whose production team proudly collected the soap and continuing drama award.

The win came despite rival Eastenders’ gripping whodunnit plot around the murder of Lucy Beale.

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