Stars look forward to BAFTA awards

'Life On Mars', 'Extras' and a drama about Lord Longford's campaign to free Moors Murderer Myra Hindley are front-runners at the TV Baftas in England tonight.

'Life On Mars', 'Extras' and a drama about Lord Longford's campaign to free Moors Murderer Myra Hindley are front-runners at the TV Baftas in England tonight.

The British Academy Television Awards will honour the big names of the small screen.

'Extras' stars Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant will compete for Best Comedy Performance, alongside Dawn French for 'The Vicar of Dibley' and Liz Smith for her performance as Nana in 'The Royle Family: Queen of Sheba'.

'Life On Mars' has been nominated for Best Drama Series, up against 'Shameless', 'The Street' and 'Sugar Rush'.

John Simm is a Best Actor contender for his role as time-travelling cop Sam Tyler, although his 'Life On Mars' co-star Philip Glenister has been overlooked.

The other nominees are Jim Broadbent and Andy Serkis for 'Longford' and Michael Sheen for 'Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!'.

Broadbent played prison reform campaigner Lord Longford in the Channel 4 drama, while Serkis played Ian Brady.

Samantha Morton is in the running for the Best Actress prize for her portrayal of Hindley, alongside Anne-Marie Duff for 'The Virgin Queen', Ruth Wilson for 'Jane Eyre' and Victoria Wood for 'Housewife 49'.

Longford is also nominated for Best Single Drama.

The Best Continuing Drama award - otherwise known as Best Soap - is a four-way race between 'EastEnders', 'Coronation Street', 'Emmerdale' and 'Casualty'. Emmerdale's nomination is its first in six years.

'The Apprentice' is up against 'Dragon's Den', 'The Choir' and Gordon Ramsay's 'The F Word' for Best Feature.

Best Entertainment Performance will go to either Jonathan Ross, Paul Merton, Stephen Fry or Ant and Dec, while Best Entertainment Programme will be one of 'Dancing On Ice', 'The X Factor', 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' and 'Derren Brown: The Heist'.

The Royle Family's Christmas special is nominated for Best Sitcom, as is 'Green Wing', 'The IT Crowd' and 'Pulling'.

'The Catherine Tate Show', 'Little Britain Abroad', 'Little Miss Jocelyn' and 'That Mitchell & Webb Look' are contenders for Best Comedy Series.

Graham Norton will host the awards from the London Palladium.

'Love Actually' and 'Vicar of Dibley' writer Richard Curtis will receive an Academy Fellowship, honouring his lifetime's work.

The ceremony will also include the Pioneer Audience Award for the best programme of 2006, the only prize of the night voted by the public.

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