Entertainment & Arts

EastEnders wins at British Soap Awards

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Media captionJessie Wallace and Shane Richie were named best on-screen partnership

BBC drama EastEnders stole the top prize at the British Soap Awards at a ceremony in Coronation Street's back yard - ITV's studios in Manchester.

EastEnders won best soap for the fourth year running, beating Coronation Street plus Emmerdale, Doctors and Hollyoaks.

The ceremony was held next door to the Coronation Street set in the year that the ITV soap celebrated its 50th anniversary with a tram crash plot.

That was named best single episode and most spectacular scene of the year.

Despite missing out on the main award, Coronation Street won a total of eight prizes.

The tangled relationship between the Webster and Dobbs families earned the storyline of the year accolade.

Image caption Coronation Street won in eight of the 15 competitive categories

Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth, won best exit and a lifetime achievement award.

But he was not present to collect them. Actress Liz Dawn, who played his wife Vera, said he was getting rest before an operation.

Jane Danson, who played Leanne Battersby, won best dramatic performance for her love triangle between Nick Tilsley and Peter Barlow.

Meanwhile, EastEnders star Jessie Wallace, who plays Kat Moon, was named best actress, and her scenes with Shane Richie earned best on-screen partnership.

The best actor award went to Emmerdale's Danny Miller, known to viewers as Aaron Livesy. The character has had a series of hard-hitting storylines about his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality.

He beat Richie as well as Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter Barlow in Coronation Street, and Hollyoaks' Emmett J Scanlan, who plays Brendan Brady.

Image caption Emmerdale's Danny Miller won best actor for storylines centring on his character's sexuality

Miller also made an emotional speech as he dedicated a special achievement award to Gavin Blyth, the Emmerdale producer who died last year at the age of 41.

Emmett J Scanlan, meanwhile, picked up Hollyoaks' only two awards - for best newcomer and best villain.

The ceremony ended with almost 30 EastEnders cast members assembling on stage to accept the award for best soap.

Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell in the BBC One show, likened the contest to a football club playing at an opposition stadium.

"We do feel like we're away from home, but it's nice to get a result away from home," he said.

Referring to the competition with Coronation Street over the last year, he said: "I think we've done well and I think they've done well and we enjoy the battle."

Richie joked: "I got here about an hour early, snuck onto the Corrie set and sprayed on the wall: 'Alfie woz ere.'

"So when they go filming on Monday morning they're in for a shock."

Image caption Coronation Street's Brooke Vincent (left) and Sacha Parkinson got into the party mood

Jake Wood, who plays Max Branning in EastEnders, said the Manchester welcome was "very warm, unlike the weather".

The casts and crews of all the soaps were "very close", he said.

"We all appreciate the hard work that goes into making four episodes a week and there's a real appreciation between the actors and producers and directors. It's not enemy territory at all."

William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street for the past 50 years, told reporters that his co-star Betty Driver was doing well after falling ill.

"She's in hospital, they're keeping her there because she is 90 [and] 91 soon but I gather she's coming along fine," he said.

The ceremony will be screened on ITV1 at 2000 BST on Wednesday.

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