British Soap Awards 2008, ITV1

Did we like it?
While hardly the Emmys and guaranteed to be packed to the rafters with irritating entities, this annual self-congratulation for the soap industry is a reliably entertaining load of old nonsense. Now in it’s 10th year (!), we were disappointed however to see utterly dubious category titles such as Best Bitch removed from the line up.

What was good about it?
• The wonderfully, suitably naff opening titles which consisted of red carpet footage set against classical music interpretations of soap theme tunes. We expect the Hollyoaks concerto in particular to be a future fave with the Classic FM crowd.
• Fern and Phil were as pleasant and efficient hosts as ever. The latter always seems to put his hands and arms far behind his back when reading from the autocue – so much so that when we first tuned in we thought he’d been involved in a horrific accident.
• Awards ceremonies are always good value for the sheer random choice of guests and this year was no exception. Noteworthy gatecrashers out of place included Daniella Nardini from This Life, The League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss, Prunella Scales and even harbinger of the apocalypse himself Jeremy Kyle.
• All hail Miss Fierce (c) herself Linda Henry (Shirley in Eastenders) – while not a winner on the night, she’ll always be a telly champion to us.
• The ever droll Maggie Jones deservedly picked up the gong for Best Comedy Performance. Corrie’s Blanche remains one of the most enjoyable characters in soap full stop.
• We never ever tire of watching the crumbled faces, fake elation and gritted teeth of nominees in the audience who realise they have been defeated in their category. Noticeable losers and ever-the-professionals included Rita Simons (Roxy in Eastenders) who appeared to freeze and stare intensely into Samantha Janus’s eyes when hearing of her loss (twice); and the dreadful Lacey Turner whose expression throughout the show was of a bulldog licking urine from a nettle.
• Chris Fountain. No reason other than his face is extremely lickable.
• The admittedly devastating and powerful episode of Emmerdale in which Lauren grieved for her baby was a reminder of why soaps can stand on their own two feet next to other ‘worthy’ dramas on TV.
• The actor who plays Liam Connor in Coronation Street delivered a rather refreshing acceptance speech on his win for Sexiest Male: “thanks for this recognition of acting ability”.
• Patsy Kensit being shot in Emmerdale.

What was bad about it?
• Now don’t get us wrong, we think Fern Britton is amazing (in fact she exudes so much warmth we want her to be our mum and hug us when we get home) but as in last year’s ceremony, her dress was concerning to say the least. There’s a plunging neckline and then there’s a canyon of tits. Still, it wasn’t quite as bad as her homage to Lynne Perrie pissed up on The Word 12 months ago.
• We’re sure we spotted Brookside’s Jimmy Corkhill in the audience which then made us mourn all over again the demise of that classic Liverpudlian soap. How we miss Ron Dicko.
• On the arrival of Dallas legend Linda Gray, one young starlet watching from afar appeared to mouth to her co-star “Who’s Linda Gray?” 😦
• No Pam St. Clement. We always wonder why she’s never at these bashes.
• The uneasy feeling we couldn’t shake after it was all over that we had just wasted two hours watching a large group of overpaid actors getting ready to enjoy a free bar.

The winners
Sexiest male Rob James-Collier (Liam Connor, Coronation Street)
Sexiest female Roxanne McKee (Louise Summers, Hollyoaks)
Villain Jack P. Shepherd (David Platt, Coronation Street)
Actor Chris Fountain (Justin Burton, Hollyoaks)
Actress Emma Rigby (Hannah Ashworth, Hollyoaks)
Comedy performance Maggie Jones (Blanche Hunt, Coronation Street)
Dramatic performance Jo Joyner (Tanya Branning, EastEnders)
Spectacular scene Claire drives off cliff (Hollyoaks)
Young actor Jamie Borthwick (Jay Brown, EastEnders)
Single episode Daniel’s death in Emmerdale
Exit Gemma Bissix (Clare Cunningham, Hollyoaks)
Newcomer Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre, Coronation Street)
Partnership Matt Littler and Darren Jon Jeffries (Sam OB O’Brien and (Max Cunningham, Hollyoaks)
Storyline Max and Stacey’s affair in EastEnders
Lifetime achievement Liz Dawn
Special achievement Tim Fee (line producer, Emmerdale)
Best soap EastEnders

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