Entertainment & Arts

The Office is named the best show of the past 20 years

Ricky Gervais in The Office
Image caption The Office ran for two series and two specials from 2001 - 2003

The Office has been named the best TV show of the past 20 years at the Broadcast Awards.

The excruciating comedy, set in a paper company in Slough, launched the careers of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and generated a hit US spin-off.

Broadcast magazine editor Chris Curtis, said the fact he could "still rattle off" several scenes from the show proved "how influential" it was.

The awards ceremony also saw BBC One named channel of the year.

Citing the success of Sherlock, Call The Midwife and the channel's World Cup coverage, the judges said: "BBC One is a channel with its big guns firing.

"EastEnders is back at the top of its game and The Graham Norton Show is firmly established as TV's premier chat-show. The Christmas specials of Mrs Brown's Boys delivered great comedy numbers, as did the nostalgic glow of Still Open All Hours."

Image caption The Great British Bake Off moved to BBC One last year, with 13.5 million people tuning in to see the finale

Consolidating the channel's success, Match of the Day received a special recognition award, while The Great British Bake Off won best factual programme - repeating its success at last month's National Television Awards.

Bake Off programme-makers Love Productions also won best independent production company, an award that also recognised its work on the controversial Benefits Street documentary for Channel 4.

Channel 4 itself picked up the best news and current affairs prize for its investigation into the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by terrorist group Boko Haram.

Dispatches: Nigeria's Hidden War was praised for its "outstanding and courageous reporting of an extraordinary story".

Bedlam, a four-part fly-on-the-wall series looking into the treatment of mental health disorders also won Channel 4 the best documentary series prize.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Bedlam followed patients being treated at the world's oldest psychiatric institution, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

All of the winners were chosen by a jury of industry professionals - including critics, programme commissioners, producers and channel bosses.

The Office, which ran for two series and two specials between 2001 and 2003, won its accolade after an audience vote.

Each table at the ceremony was given one vote, choosing from a shortlist that included Big Brother, Broadchurch, Gavin and Stacey and Life On Mars.

Creators Gervais and Merchant could not be there to receive their prize, but sent their thanks on Twitter, with Merchant deadpanning: "Haven't won anything for a while so thanks guys".

Writing in Broadcast, a trade paper for the television industry, the show's producer, Jon Plowman, recalled that it had gotten off to a shaky start.

"Series one famously had the lowest AI [audience appreciation] of any new BBC Two show that year," he said. "Ratings were rotten too, but they belatedly went up. [BBC Two controller] Jane Root repeated it within a couple of months and it doubled its figures.

"The audience had got that it was okay to laugh even though there was no audience track or obvious jokes.

"It wasn't the first mock-doc, but it helped to make single-camera comedy more acceptable and fashionable."

Image caption Match of the Day celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and recently secured the rights to three more years of Premier League matches

Full list of winners

  • Channel of the year - BBC One
  • Best Factual Programme - The Great British Bake-Off (BBC One)
  • Best Drama Series - Happy Valley (BBC One)
  • Best Soap - EastEnders (BBC One)
  • Best Single Drama - Common (BBC One)
  • Best Original Programme - Glasgow Girls (BBC Three)
  • Best Comedy Programme - Harry And Paul's Story Of The Twos (BBC Two)
  • Best Entertainment Programme - Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV1)
  • Best Daytime Programme - Couples Come Dine With Me (Channel 4)
  • Best News & Current Affairs Programme - Dispatches: Nigeria's Hidden War (Channel 4)
  • Best Documentary Programme - Storyville: Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer (BBC Four)
  • Best Documentary Series - Bedlam (Channel 4)
  • Best Music Programme - Coldplay: Ghost Stories (Sky Arts)
  • Best Pre-School Programme - Lily's Driftwood Bay (Nick Jr)
  • Best Sports Programme - The Grand National 2014 (Channel 4)
  • Best Children's Programme - Operation Ouch! Goes Back In Time (CBBC)
  • Best Multichannel Programme - Uncle (Channel 4 / BBC Three)
  • Best International Programme Sales - The X Factor UK
  • Best Independent Production Company - Love Productions
  • Best Post Production House - Envy Post Production
  • Special Recognition - Match Of The Day
  • Best programme of the last 20 years - The Office

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