Graham Norton has been presented with the Special Recognition prize at the National Television Awards.
The stunned talk show host collected the award from Hugh Bonneville, joking: “Look I know, I know this is a sort of NTA pity party because it’s the only way I can get one of these over Ant and Dec.”
He added: “I feel so old, I feel like the NTAs have invited me to my own funeral. Turns out it was great! Will Smith and my mother were there. And Dolly Parton.”
The surprise award came with a video montage featuring everyone from Judi Dench to Mel Giedroyc to Will Smith singing Norton’s praises.
On being a guest on the Graham Norton Show, Helen Mirren said: “He just makes you feel so relaxed, and even when you’re exhausted, you feel as if you’re diving into a glass of champagne.”
Norton, who was so blindsided by the award that he was concerned about “offending people” by forgetting to thank them, said: “Thanks so much to the NTAs for this. I don’t quite know what to say because legions of people have worked on the show over the years…
“To keep a show on the air for that long isn’t that easy, and in my case it’s sort of a miracle. I’m not the funniest, I’m not the hardest worker, but I am the luckiest.”
Hosted at the O2 Arena in London, the ceremony saw the great and the good of television gather to see Norton pick up his silverware.
The presenter has hosted his eponymous chat show since 2007, starting on BBC2 before it moved across to BBC1. In the past year he has welcomed the likes of Ryan Gosling, Benedict Cumberbatch and the late Carrie Fisher to his sofa, winning over viewers with his mix of entertaining conversation and fun games.
Norton’s early career saw him present So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton – both for Channel 4 – before moving across to the BBC where he fronted Strictly Dance Fever and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and its spin-offs.
He is also a regular feature on the airwaves, took over the Eurovision coverage from Sir Terry Wogan in 2009 and has this year begun hosting new BBC talent show Let It Shine alongside Mel Giedroyc.
Norton is frequently bested in the TV presenter category by duo Ant & Dec who have taken home the gong on the last 16 occasions. He’ll no doubt be delighted to receive some coveted NTAs silverware.