Downton Abbey fever hits US as it scoops Golden Globe for best TV mini series
HIGH class costume drama Downton Abbey was among a clutch of winners at this year's Golden Globes, scooping the award for best television mini series.
Titanic star Kate Winslet and The Wire actor Idris Elba also bagged gongs on a night that saw Ricky Gervais host the prestigious ceremony for a third consecutive year.
The comic ruffled feathers at past shows with controversial gibes aimed at Hollywood's elite, but he seemed to tone down his close-to-the-knuckle jokes for the 69th annual Globes ceremony.
In his opening gambit, the funnyman said organisers had warned him that were he to insult anyone on hand, or "offend any viewers, or cause any controversy whatsoever - they will definitely invite me back next year as well".
Downton Abbey, ITV1's hit saga about the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, has proved a huge success in the UK and Ireland and its latest achievement showed it had also captivated audiences across the Atlantic.
Accepting the award at the Beverly Hills ceremony, the show's creator, Oscar winner Julian Fellowes, said: "How fabulous this is. The whole Downton adventure has been an extraordinary one. Like spotting a promising child and waking up to find they've have won the Olympics - and that's what we've lived through."
Winslet took best actress in a mini series for her performance in HBO's Mildred Pierce, while Elba triumphed in the male version of the category, scooping best actor for his role in BBC One's crime drama Luther.
Elsewhere, black-and-white silent film The Artist was the big winner of the night taking gongs including best musical or comedy and best actor in a musical or comedy for Jean Dujardin.
Family drama The Descendants claimed two awards, as best drama and dramatic actor for George Clooney, while Meryl Streep won best dramatic actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the film The Iron Lady.
Before the ceremony, the stars of British country house drama Downton took to the red carpet and spoke about why the series was so popular among viewers in America.
Actress Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the Countess of Grantham, said: "I think they love the drama and the intrigue, and they also love the solidity of the life, that you're free of mobile phones and Twitter."
Her on-screen husband, Hugh Bonneville, added: "People tend to love period dramas, but this is one where you don't know the ending, it's not like an adaptation of a book."
The awards, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are seen as a pointer for possible Oscar success.
During the ceremony, Gervais joked that the Globes "are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem. The Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton. A bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought. Allegedly. Nothing's been proved".
He also needled early winners, saying the show was running long and stars needed to keep their speeches short.
"You don't need to thank everyone you've ever met or members of your family, who have done nothing," Gervais said. "Just the main two. Your agent and God."
There was also a mention for a British dwarf who hit the headlines when he was left badly injured after being picked up and thrown to the ground outside a pub in Wincanton.
During his acceptance speech for best supporting actor in a TV series, pint-sized actor Peter Dinklage told people to "Google" Martin Henderson.
Aspiring actor Mr Henderson, 37 said the attack was inspired by a then-recent "dwarf-tossing" event that was attended by some members of England's national rugby team.