In a sign that the show's fortunes have now changed from what they were a mere two years ago, Doctor Who became the big winner on Tuesday night at the National Television Awards as the show was given the Most Popular Drama award, Christopher Eccleston won Most Popular Actor, and Billie Piper won Most Popular Actress, according to a report from the UK Press Association. The BBC1 drama series beat such competitors as "Desperate Housewives," "The Bill" and "Bad Girls," while Eccleston and Piper beat such competitors as Martin Clunes and Sally Lindsay.
While PA's report suggests that Piper did not thank Eccleston stage, a later release notes that Piper thanked her "lovely boyfriend Mr E" and her co-star Eccleston "for being a fantastic Doctor and teaching me so much." She ended her acceptance speech by saying, "Thank you so much. This means so much to me, I can't even begin to tell you"; she then thanked show bosses for taking what she called a huge gamble. Eccleston was not present at the ceremony, which Piper noted later to reporters, "Chris is not here this evening, I don't know why." She said of Tennant, "He's a lot lighter on his feet and I am sure you will all be thrilled."
Russell T Davies later appeared on stage on Eccleston's behalf, reading a note of thanks from the actor: "I'm very sorry that I can't be there tonight. Thank you to everybody who voted for me, and to the British public for their encouragement over the last 17 years. They have always been honest with me and I'm very grateful." Eccleston stated in his note that he would dedicate the award "to a little boy who loves Dr Who and loves life."
Meanwhile, BBC Radio 5 covered the results from the National Television Awards this evening with presenter Dalya Raphael. The 10.30pm report carried a story on Conservative Party leadership contenders David Davis and David Cameron, who were booed when they went up on stage to present the Most Popular Drama award. Following the news and sport, at 10.38pm they went onto the actual coverage of the awards from their reported there Colin Paterson. Raphael described "Doctor Who" as "sweeping the board". Both said they liked "Doctor Who", and were pleased to be able to present the trophy to Piper. Both said Jon Pertwee was their favourite Doctor (although this was related by Paterson rather than being a direct clip.) Eventually discussion went to the actual Awards, Piper described as seeming "genuinely quite touched". Again the show was described as "the big winner on the night," and Eccleston's non-appearance was described as "maybe not surprising." Piper was said to be "almost crying" when he interviewed her by Paterson, and an interview clip was played where she said she "didn't even think I had a shot". She remarked how it was the first thing she'd won since Most Fanciable Female in Pop at the Smash Hits Poll Winners' Party many years ago. The report then moved on to talking about the other award winners.
The awards were taped this evening and will air on ITV at 8.00pm on Wednesday, 26 October.