UK's favourite comedian to be named tonight

Viewers will choose the UK's favourite comedian at tonight’s British Comedy Awards.

UK's favourite comedian to be named tonight

Viewers will choose the UK's favourite comedian at tonight’s British Comedy Awards.

Ant and Dec have been nominated along with Michael McIntyre, Harry Hill, Miranda Hart and David Mitchell for the People’s Choice Award for the King or Queen of Comedy.

The winner, decided by phone vote, will be announced at the ceremony at the O2 in Greenwich, south-east London.

This year sees the first ever nomination for a children’s comedy show, with CBBC’s 'Horrible Histories' shortlisted in the Sketch Show category.

Hart and Hill lead the pack with four nominations each, while Sarah Millican is up for the Best Female Comic and Best Female Comedy Breakthrough Artist awards.

New categories at the ceremony, hosted by Jonathan Ross, include Best Comic Actor and Actress and Best Comedy Entertainment Personality.

Ross has been the long-standing face of the show, which is transferring from ITV to Channel 4 after 20 years in a three-year deal.

He said: “The British Comedy Awards is, in my opinion, the most exciting, entertaining and challenging award show on British TV. I’m delighted that Channel 4 want me to carry on hosting it.”

The event has attracted its fair share of scandal over the years, including gags which have backfired as well as the voting controversy.

Channel 4 has promised to bring the ceremony “bang up to date, reinvigorating the brand and reverting to a live broadcast, injecting spontaneity, excitement and edge into the new-look awards show”.

Comeday awards have courted controversy

The British Comedy Awards have had their share of controversy.

Julian Clary hit the headlines in 1993 when he likened the stage set to a gay cruising area and told the audience: “I’ve just been f****** Norman Lamont.”

A year later, host Jonathan Ross was flustered by another one liner when Spike Milligan picked up his lifetime achievement award.

Ross was midway through a glowing tribute from one of the former Goon’s biggest fans, the Prince of Wales, when Milligan interrupted and described the Prince as “the little grovelling bastard”.

In 2008 it was Ross’s absence that made the headlines when he had to pull out as host because of the controversy over “Sachsgate”, where he and Russell Brand left obscene messages on veteran actor Andrew Sachs’s answerphone during a radio show.

Angus Deayton stood in for him and told the audience that Ross’s absence was down to “30,000 self-righteous twats who never heard the programme in the first place”.

The same year, Alan Carr had to apologise after he told reporters that Karen Matthews, jailed for kidnapping her daughter Shannon, was a “gay icon”, adding: “People like a bit of rough don’t they?”

But it was an off-stage scandal that caused the greatest controversy when details of a prize-fixing incident were published in 2009.

Ofcom imposed an £80,000 (€94,000) fine on Channel TV, which was responsible for ensuring the show met standards, after Ant and Dec were wrongly named as the People’s Choice winners.

They were given their award in 2005, even though the Catherine Tate Show received the highest number of votes. The production team overrode the popular vote.

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