Mocking Merton has last laugh in awards battle

Comic Paul Merton had the last laugh tonight as he beat his TV sparring partner Angus Deayton to a top TV prize – then mocked him.

Comic Paul Merton had the last laugh tonight as he beat his TV sparring partner Angus Deayton to a top TV prize – then mocked him.

The pair had been in the running for best entertainment performance at the TV Baftas, even though Deayton has been axed from their show Have I Got News For You.

But Merton – who just days ago revealed he did not see eye-to-eye with the former host – landed the prize for his hilarious appearances.

And he told the audience of showbiz stars and TV bigwigs at the event in London’s Palladium: “They say the closer you sit to the stage, the better chance you have of winning.

“Angus Deayton is sat in Row G – at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.”

Deayton was dumped from Have I Got News For You last year after TV bosses said that allegations about his private life made it “untenable” for him to continue with the show.

Asked about his reaction to Merton’s win, he said sarcastically: “I was overjoyed.”

Coronation Street crowned its hugely successful year by picking up its first ever best soap title at the Baftas.

EastEnders had triumphed in three of the previous four years but Corrie has seen a huge reversal of fortunes, with audiences rocketing thanks to its storyline about serial killer Richard Hillman.

Producer Kieran Roberts said: “It has been a great year for us and it is a very special accolade indeed.

“The story line everyone has been talking about is about Richard Hillman - but one good story line does not win you the award on its own.

Brian Capron, who played Richard Hillman, said: “I look at some of the writing and think I would never get as good as that in the future.

“It’s fantastic. I’m just so happy for everyone.”

BBC2’s The Office was a double winner for the second year running. The fly-on-the-wall-style show about hapless boss David Brent took best sitcom and best comedy performance for its star Ricky Gervais.

The comic was concerned about his dry cleaning bill when he turned up in a white suit.

He joked: “I’m scared someone is going to spill chocolate mousse on me.”

Actor David Jason received a standing ovation as he took the stage to pick up a Bafta Fellowship with red eyes after hearing pals pay tribute.

The 63-year-old Only Fools And Horses and A Touch Of Frost star said: “The lad from Finchley hasn’t done too bad over the years.”

And he paid tribute to Only Fools writer John Sullivan: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play Del Boy and for giving the English language such memorable phrases as ‘Rodney you plonker’ and ‘you dipstick’.”

ITV1’s Jungle survival show I‘m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! was named best entertainment programme, while BBC1’s Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression took the comedy programme prize.

The best actor accolade went to Albert Finney for his role as Churchill in BBC drama The Gathering Storm, which followed his wilderness years.

And Julie Walters landed the best actress prize for her role in BBC2’s Murder looking at the impact of a child killing.

She joked: “Thank you Bafta, you shouldn’t have ..... well, maybe you should have.”

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