Emmerdale was the big winner at the British Soap Awards 2017, where many stars wore tributes to the victims of the Manchester terror attack.
The depiction of Ashley Thomas’s battle with dementia helped the ITV show score six gongs, including best British soap, best storyline, best actor and best male dramatic performance for actor John Middleton, (who played Ashley), best actress for Charlotte Bellamy (Ashley’s wife Laurel) and best single episode.
The ceremony took place in Salford less than two weeks after a terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester devastated the city.
Host Phillip Schofield opened the show saying: “As an Oldham lad it is an honour to host the show in this wonderful city, whose spirit has inspired the world over the last two weeks.”
Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley paid tribute to the victims with a clutch bag embossed with a Manchester bee and the words We Stand Together, while her co-star Nathan Curtis wore a bee pin and Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas wore a pin reading Mancunian.
Other soap stars wore yellow ribbons on their evening wear in tribute to the 22 victims of the bombing at the Manchester Arena.
John, who has already collected a string of accolades for his portrayal of Ashley’s dementia, hailed “the integrity with which the story was told” as he collected the best dramatic performance prize.
Coronation Street collected four prizes at the ceremony, where Kym Marsh was given the award for best female dramatic performance for her turn in a devastating stillbirth storyline, which echoed her own real life experience.
Delivering an emotional speech on stage at The Lowry, Marsh dedicated the prize to the baby she lost.
She said: “This award I would like to dedicate to my son Archie and all those angel babies.”
She added: “Michelle and Steve’s baby loss story was perhaps the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my career, it took us to places we didn’t want to go to again but we did it because it’s such an important story to tell.”
She continued: “As we sit here enjoying ourselves, someone is losing their baby. I’ve been through it as I’m sure most of you know, Simon has been through it.
“We are breaking the silence and making this less taboo and making people realise they are not alone.”
The best comedy performance prize went to Kym’s co-star Dolly-Rose Campbell, who paid tribute to fan of the soap Martyn Hett, who was killed in the terror attack.
She said: “We recently saw how short life can be so we need to enjoy it.
“There are people up in the balcony with signs saying Be More Martyn, he was a big fan of the show, and that is what we should do.”
Rob Mallard, who recently joined the soap as Ken Barlow’s son Dan Osbourne, won the best newcomer prize and dedicated it to his partner and co-star Daniel Brocklebank.
Holding the gong, he said: “While this is great, Dan, you’re the best thing I’ve ever taken home.”
Coronation Street’s fourth prize was won by Elle Mulvaney, who took the best young performance gong for her portrayal of Amy Barlow.
Hollyoaks won three awards, including best on-screen partnership for Richard Linnell and Kassius Nelson for their roles as Alfie Nightingale and Jade Albright, scene of the year for Jade saying goodbye to Alfie and the outstanding achievement award, which was won by the soap’s veteran star Nick Pickard after 21 years on the show.
Villain of the year went to Lucy-Jo Hudson for playing Rhiannon Davis in Doctors while the Tony Warren Award went to EastEnders’ scriptwriter Gillian Richmond.
:: The British Soap Awards will air on ITV at 8pm on June 6.