Roache had many of the audience in tears as he
told guests: “I feel so blessed, honoured and privileged to have had those years working with Anne.
“What we’ll remember the most is the vibrant, warm-hearted, loving person who came to work each day, gave us all a hug and brightened up our lives.
“Together with Anne’s brother John and his family, David, and her Coronation Street family, and especially Beverley Callard — who was very close to Anne in her last days — we’ve been deeply touched by the outpouring of love for Anne since she passed away.”
His voice trembling with emotion, he said: “We share your grief and sadness at losing such a beautiful person who’ll be so greatly missed by us all.”
He added: “I love you, Anne. Thank you.”
Ant and Dec were on stage for a second prize of the night when they collected the best entertainment presenter trophy — an award they have now won for a 14th consecutive year.
The duo looked surprise by the win, with McPartlin telling the audience: “I honestly didn’t think we would win. I thought it had to come to an end and I thought it would be tonight. Thank God it wasn’t.”
Sheridan Smith landed the prize for top drama performance for her portrayal of Cilla Black in ITV series Cilla, beating figures such as Maggie Smith, Sarah Lancashire and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Smith, who had been stuck in traffic, arrived at the venue more than half an hour after her prize was awarded. She said he had been stuck for three hours, telling guests: “I’m so sorry.”
EastEnders actress Maddy Hill — who plays Nancy Carter — took the best newcomer prize, beating Lee Mead, Cameron Moore and Michael Parr.