Sherlock and Poirot vie for award

Benedict Cumberbatch is in the running for an NTA Award for Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and The Killing's Sarah Lund are among sleuths who will battle for the title of best detective in a new prize to feature in next year's National Television Awards.

Organisers have compiled a longlist of 26 crime-solvers who will be in the running for the new category which has been introduced to recognise the popularity of crime dramas on TV.

Fictional figures from shows such as New Tricks, The Fall and Broadchurch are up for the title which will be handed over at the awards, to be staged at London's O2 Arena on January 22 and broadcast live by ITV.

Consulting detective Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his medic sidekick John Watson (Martin Freeman) have been added to the nomination list for the prize despite no new editions of their BBC1 show Sherlock being screened since January 2012. Ceremony bosses say they included it in the list because it proved popular with viewers when the show was repeated during the eligibility period.

The list also includes another contender who is not actually a detective, in the shape of BBC1's Jonathan Creek, played by Alan Davies. In the show, Creek designs illusions for a magician.

The longlists for other categories at the 19th NTAs have also been announced, with public voting beginning from today.

Presenters Ant and Dec are yet again up for the entertainment presenter prize, having won the award for the past 12 consecutive years. Also up for the title are figures such as Alan Carr, Sir Bruce Forsyth and Dermot O'Leary.

X Factor host Dermot will be hosting the ceremony. Voting is at www.nationaltvawards.com and closes on October 11.

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