The National Television Awards is generally a light-hearted affair, and in many respects this year was no different. We had a fantastic opening skit bringing together some of TV’s best known medical staff when host Dermot O’Leary ‘lost his voice’, Piers Morgan descending to the stage on wires before being hauled off when Dermot decided that even laryngitis was better than Piers taking over, Bradley Walsh crashing said stage for an award he hadn’t won and a dancing lesson from Strictly head judge Shirley Ballas.
But perhaps more than usual, this was also an NTAs filled with poignant and important moments, from the very personal to those that concern everyone on the planet…
A special award for Blue Planet and a standing ovation for David Attenborough
The NTAs Impact Award doesn’t feature every year, and even when it does it can sometimes be a little frivolous (the last winner was Aidan Turner for his topless scything scene in Poldark). But this time it was focused on a subject that couldn’t be more important – the health of our planet.
BBC1 natural history series Blue Planet II picked up the award for raising awareness of the deadly plastic pollution which is killing marine life and upsetting ecosystems in the world’s oceans.
And while the show’s writer and narrator Sir David Attenborough thanked “the cameramen and camerawomen who dived into the ocean to get [the pictures]” that made the show, everyone else thanked him, with a standing ovation…
Heartfelt thanks from Ant and Dec after “quite a year”
After picking up best Challenge Show for I’m A Celebrity and the inaugural Sir Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award for Saturday Night Takeaway, Ant and Dec rounded it off with yet another Best Presenter award.
You’d think after winning it for an incredible 17th consecutive time, they’d be a bit blasé about the whole thing – but not this year…
After Ant’s well-publicised issues with addiction and his marriage, he was on understandably emotional form.
“It’s been a very emotional night tonight. It’s been quite a year,” he told the audience with a tremor in his voice. “It’s been quite a tough 12 months so winning this tonight really means a lot, so thank you for all your support, it really means the world to me, it’s helped me get through.”
He then turned to his best friend Dec: “And thanks to you little guy, I love you man.”
“It has been quite the year,” said Dec. “So this has really topped it off. Thank you so much to everybody who’s taken the time to vote for us, it is really, really appreciated – possibly this year more than any other.”
The first NTAs without the late, great Sir Bruce Forsyth celebrated him with a performance of one of his favourite songs – I’ve Got You Under My Skin – a retrospective of his incredible career, and the newly named Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award, presented by his widow Lady Forysth.
“I know he would have loved this because show business was his life,” she said. “And I also know if he was here this evening he would be saying to all of you, ‘it’s been nice to see you, to see you nice’.”
Winners Ant and Dec then reminisced about sharing the stage with Sir Bruce in years gone by.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that it was one of the highlights of our career and we all miss him terribly,” said Dec. “So we are thrilled and proud and honoured to be collecting the first Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award. This one’s for you Brucie!”
Gogglebox won best Factual Entertainment for the fourth time in a row but, as for Ant and Dec, this year was a little more emotional, following the death just before Christmas of well-loved armchair critic Leon Bernicoff who left behind his wife June.
“We’d like to just dedicate this award to Leon and June,” said Goggleboxers Izzie and Ellie Warner.
“God bless you Leon,” added presenter Suranne Jones.
David Attenborough would no doubt be proud of someone else seeking change for members of the animal kingdom: Paul O’Grady, who received the NTA’s Special Recognition award for helping to sway attitudes to the rehoming of dogs with six series of his show For the Love of Dogs, which films inside Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
And he even managed to wangle front row seats for some of his furry friends…