Will Downton Abbey and Strictly Come Dancing triumph as X Factor lose out tonight?
There’s a certain amount of snobbery around the National Television Awards, since they’re voted for by viewers, rather than television executives. But that’s fine – it’s not so much a illustrious awards ceremony as an enormous party for TV stars and ticket-buying fans. There’s plenty of room for both in the O2 Arena, the ideal venue for anyone who can’t get through an ad break without blowing their hourly wage on an overpriced hotdog.
This year’s list of nominees is predictable in that it, quite rightly, honours the programmes that lots and lots of people genuinely watch (rather than pretending to watch, and then skim-reading the episode synopsis on Wikipedia in case anyone brings it up at a dinner party).
There are lots of categories, many of which feature soap stars who’ll fade away even quicker than the HD-friendly spraytans they’ll be displaying on the night. Here’s the pick of the big ones:
The nominees: Britain’s Got Talent, Dancing on Ice, Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor
Who should win? Even Simon Cowell has admitted that X Factor and BGT lost their spark in 2011 (he’s clever like that – being so “modest” and “candid” only highlights just how missed he was when he abandoned us for America), while the two dancing shows have been more popular then ever. Strictly should swing it, since DOI is basically the same concept, but colder.
The nominees: Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Merlin, Waterloo Road
Who should win? This one’s easy. In fact, is there even any point in enduring the charade of suspense around this category when, much like Madonna, Downton has become so huge it now goes by a one word name?
The nominees: An Idiot Abroad, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, This Morning, Top Gear
Who should win? This Morning and Top Gear might bumble on reliably year after year, but Gypsy Weddings was one of the most talked about television events of 2011. Just be prepared for Jeremy Clarkson saying something offensive about gypsies when he loses.
The nominees: Benidorm, Miranda, Outnumbered
Who should win? As evidenced by the small number of contenders in this category, 2011 wasn’t a great year for British comedies – partly because shows that aren’t supposed to be funny seemed to provide a lot more mirth. Yet Miranda Hart has still become a star. She’s bound to win with her semi-autobiographical sitcom Miranda. And she’s bound to “accidentally” trip over as she collects her award.
The nominees: Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks
Who should win? EastEnders won last year so if the voting public are feeling fair, it’s probably Corrie’s turn. But fear not, a coach-load of Hollyoaks “hunks and babes” will inevitably turn up anyway, and, even though they haven’t got a hope of getting past the big three, they’ll still manage to dominate the red carpet and ensure a far more lucrative 2013 calendar deal.
The nominees: Come Dine with Me, I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, The Apprentice, The Only Way Is Essex
Who should win? All four are staged, tacky and brimming over with excruciatingly annoying characters, but that’s why they're so popular – and since the “stars” of TOWIE have appeared on two of the rival nominated shows (sadly, they’re still yet to get fired by Lord Sugar), they’ve definitely succeeded in televisual domination. Giving them a chunk of glass to artificially squabble over will only encourage them, but what the hell.
Elsewhere, Karen Gillan is likely to win Best Drama Performance (Female) for Doctor Who, since it’s only fair to give her something nice and shiny for her mantelpiece now that she’s leaving, while her co-star Matt Smith could well take the male equivalent. Other inevitabilities: Ant & Dec will win something, even though they’ve done nothing new and exciting for at least five years; the Loose Women presenters will behave disgracefully so that they have something to talk about on the show the next day; and awards host Dermot O’Leary will call everybody “buddy”.
The National Television Awards are on Wednesday 25 January on ITV1 at 7.30pm