BBC honours Walliams

Special award for sporting achievement

David Walliams has been presented with a ‘special award; at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for his cross-Channel swim.

The comic had failed to make the ten-strong shortlist for the main award – which was won by Zara Phillips – prompting claims the corporation had ‘rigged’ the process to favour professional sportsmen.

But acknowledging his popular support, the BBC last night gave him an award for his feat of crossing the channel in 10-and-a-half hours, raising £1 million for Sport Relief in the process.

At Birmingham’s NEC, Walliams said it was ‘very humbling’ to receive his award.

‘The worst part was the cold,’ he said. ‘It really gets you down so I had to start thinking about Abba songs to keep me happy.’

He was given the award by his Little Britain costar Matt Lucas, who joked: ‘Are you sure you don't want to give it to anybody who did anything better?’ and suggested boules, croquet and sudoku players – and even his own Tetris skills

Walliams added that he and Lucas ‘might go back to writing funny sketches’ instead of attempting new physical challenges.

Phillips – who is the world champion three-day eventer - won the award 35 years after her mother, Princess Anne, received the same honour.

Viewers had claimed that if it had purely down to public support, rather than being skewed by the views of sporting experts whose nominations were given more weght, Walliams would have made the shortlist.

His swim time was the 23rd fastest out of 1,200 successful crossings.

Walliams’s spokesman also told the Sunday Times yesterday that he was planning another charity swim, including the possibility of swimming from Russia to America across the Bering Strait.

Published: 11 Dec 2006

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