Well it’s award season and the first out of the traps was the NTAs (The National Television Awards or “The Ant & Dec’s” as they are sometimes referred to). According to the description on the TV guide it was “the biggest night for TV of the year” other than the BAFTAs I guess. The main difference with the NTAs (actually let’s just call them “The Geordies”) is that they are voted for by the public so these are no measure of artistic value or programme making excellence, these are an out and out popularity contest.
They began 21 years ago in the less than salubrious surroundings of the Wembley Conference Centre and were presented by Eamon Holmes; but a year later moved to the Royal Albert Hall and Sir Trevor MacDonald took the helm. In 2010 they went up a notch again and moved to the O2 and Dermot “don’t mention the Getaway Car” O’Leary took over. It seems a trend that award shows need to fit into ever larger venues. I remember back in the 80’s when the BAFTAs and the BRITS (then known as the BPI Award) came from the ballroom of the Grosvenor House Hotel and took about an hour. Now with the run up and round up they seem to take 3 days (a bit like stag and hen parties do now).
The evening started, for no particular reason, with Gloria Gaynor singing a mash up of I Will Survive and Beyoncé’s Survivor. That pretty much set the tone for the evening. There then followed two and half hours of back slapping, smiling and losers faces. One constant source of aggravation was the microphones. You would think that people who work in the TV industry would realise that if they speak a distance away from a microphone, that a man, probably wearing baggy shorts and grumbling a lot, will turn it up. You don’t have to lean into the microphone. But that didn’t stop every celeb over 5’ 4” from stooping like a hunchback to read the nominations or make an acceptance speech.
Talking of acceptance speeches, the “drunk before 8pm” award went to Danny Dyer who won some category for that thing he is in and went on to thank his parent for conceiving him. I thought Shane Ritchie (who presented the award) may have to come in to escort him off stage with a matey East End arm around the shoulder; but he kept his distance before, during and after the ramble and left it to Jessie Wallace to prop young Danny up as he exited stage left.
A trend for the night did seem to be for everyone involved in the production to get on stage to accept it. In fact sometimes so many people got up, that they were still making their way back to their seats when the next award winner was making their way up and had to avoid bumping into them in the aisle. Such was the congestion that Dermot had to keep herding them off stage (what is the collective noun for a collection of celebs? A Star of Celebs? A Clammer of Celebs?).
All this chasing left one thinking that this programme was running way over, but in fact the opposite was true. It would appear from the impromptu chat between Dermot and Tess Daly, who along with the entire front row was collecting the award for Strictly, that they were filling for time. This made even better car crash telly than the other car crash telly programme he presents about crashing cars on the telly.
The most poignant moment of the evening was the Special Recognition Award presented to Billy Connolly. It was heart breaking to see such an obviously sharp and witty mind trapped in such a frail form. He can still give Peter Kay a run for his money, and did. So that was that for another year. The next big British Award Ceremony (I’m ignoring that American one for the film stars in a couple of weeks time) will be the BRITS in February, again at the O2. Let’s just hope they have managed to get the cast of Eastenders off the stage in time.