Victoria Wood has been honoured for her outstanding contribution in this year’s Chortle Awards, in association with Universal Pictures.
The accolade comes after the 57-year-old made a return to stand-up after almost a decade, while the Morecambe and Wise drama Eric and Ernie, which she masterminded and appeared in, was one of the TV hits of the Christmas period
The award was handed out by her friend Richard E Grant at a ceremony hosted by Pub Landlord Al Murray in Central London tonight. Guests and presenters at the bash included Top Gear’s James May, TV presenter Gail Porter, Apprentice star Stuart Baggs, magician Paul Daniels, former MP Lembit Opik and comics Rhod Gilbert, Dave Gorman and Katy Brand.
Other big winners included Australian musical sensation Tim Minchin, who received two accolades: for best music or variety act and for best tour, for the show he is performing with a full orchestra. Minchin, who has also just adapted Roald Dahl’s children’s book Matilda into a stage musical for the Royal Shakespeare Company, could not attend as he is in Australia.
However, he sent a message saying: 'I wish I could be there and thanks to everybody. I am very pleased lying here on my bed on the edge of the West Australian desert listening to frogs to know that I beat the Boy With Tape On His Face and the rest, as they are all incompetent bastards.'
Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow won the TV and radio award for the second year running, while Stewart Lee, who is about to return to BBC Two with his Comedy Vehicle, won best DVD for his show If You Would Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One. Lee’s former double-act partner Richard Herring also won an award for his podcast As It Occurs To Me
Kevin Eldon, a top comic actor whose credits include Hot Fuzz, Four Lions, Dead Set, Nighty Night, Hyperdrive and Brass Eye, won the best show category for his Edinburgh Fringe debut, Kevin Eldon Is Titting About. He beat a competitive field that included Edinburgh Comedy Award winners Russell Kane and Bo Burnham, Greg Davies from The Inbetweeners and Irish-based comic Des Bishop.
Chris Sievey, the creator of cult papier-mache-headed character Frank Sidebottom was honoured with a special judges’ award. He died penniless in June last year, following a short battle with cancer. His award was collected by his partner, Gemma Woods, who is raising money to build a statue to him in the town he made famous, Timperley in Greater Manchester.
The awards – now in their tenth year – are voted on by visitors to Chortle, the UK’s leading comedy website. More than 15,000 votes were polled on a shortlist drawn up by a panel of leading comedy critics.
Chortle editor Steve Bennett said: ‘Fuelled by the boom in stand-up on TV, live comedy has never been in a healthier state, with people looking for a laugh amid the economic gloom.
‘Our winners and nominees reflect the incredible diversity of the live comedy scene, and show just how many talented people are working in this most innovative and immediate form of entertainment. They are not all famous – yet – but they all deserve to be.’
The full list of winners is:
Best newcomer: Diane Spencer
Breakthough act: The Boy With Tape On His Face
Best headliner: Milton Jones
Best compere: Stephen Grant
Character or sketch act: Late Night Gimp Fight
Music Or Variety Act: Tim Minchin
Best show: Kevin Eldon Is Titting About
Best tour: Tim Minchin and his orchestra
TV and radio award: Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow
Best DVD: Stewart Lee: If You Want A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One
Internet Award: Richard Herring: As It Occurs To Me
Award for innovation: Invisible Dot (a production company)
Offstage contribution: Karen Koren of the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
Judges’ Award: Chris Sievey for Frank Sidebottom
Outstanding contribution to comedy: Victoria Wood
Best purpose-built venue in London: Comedy Store
Best London Club: 99 Club Leicester Square
Best venue in the South: Brighton Komedia
Best venue in the Midlands and East: Birmingham Glee Club
Best venue in Wales and the West: Cardiff Glee Club
Best venue in the North: Manchester Comedy Store
Best venue in Scotland: The Stand Edinburgh
There are some pictures from the arrivals here