From a poor start, the National TV Awards went from bad to worse

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There's an unmistakable glitz to the Oscars that you just can't avoid, while in the UK the BAFTAs have certainly earned their place at the top table of entertainment awards.

There's an unmistakable glitz to the Oscars that you just can't avoid, while in the UK the BAFTAs have certainly earned their place at the top table of entertainment awards.

Even the Brit Awards have always clung stubbornly to a reputation for producing something unexpected, from Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox's chemistry-free shambles in 1989 to Jarvis Cocker interrupting Michael Jackson's public display of self-promotion.

And while the British Comedy Awards and the Golden Globes have filled the niche for controversy, what is the National Television Awards actually for?

I didn't go into ITV's coverage of last night's star-snubbed event with high hopes, but I still felt deflated when, within moments of the show beginning, Bruce Forsyth launched into a big band number.

Things quickly got worse, when moments later he was joined for a toe-curling skit with ITV favourites Ant & Dec.

The clunking script set the tone for the event, which was played out in front of a monstrous, garish heart-shaped set, often containing huge images of whoever was onstage at the time.

When David Walliams stood up to accept a special award for swimming the length of the Thames, he did so with his own giant, wetsuited image looming over him, thumbs aloft in triumph.

During close-ups on those handing over the awards, the backdrop seems to be replaced by strings of plastic jewels, making it look like some kind of giant clairvoyant's shop.


There were some unimpressive categories on offer. Picking a winner in the best chat show section seemed particularly arbitrary, and judging by the clips illustrating each entry picking one as 'best' was a bit like saying one foghorn is more pleasant and tuneful than another.

Dermot O'Leary was the man charged with pinning the whole thing together. A safe choice for his regular experience in doing a similar job each week on the X-Factor, O'Leary's easy, low-impact patter glued the awards together in a straightforward, unthreatening and efficient way.

Inevitably, much of the cameras' focus was on the celebrities in the front rows, but there seemed to be something of a scarcity of A-listers in attendance. Almost all those in shot were up for awards, and the extent to which the camera lingered on the likes of Alan Carr and Louis Spence probably spoke volumes about the interest from the wider public.

The awards are voted for by the public, but if it was truly representative of the whole viewing public then there were some strange choices. This Morning and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings found their way onto the best factual programme shortlist, but there was no place for Frozen Planet.


The last series of Dr Who joined Merlin and Waterloo Road in the fight for the best drama gong, despite receiving widespread criticism.

In fact, ITV cleaned up, adding to the feeling of self-congratulation which seemed to pervade the whole event – when O'Leary stepped offstage because he was nominated for one of the awards, it all became a little bit too insular.

The NTAs have been on the go for more than a decade now, but this was my first brush with them. I don't think I'll be back next year.

Thom Kennedy

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