BBC3 comedy Gavin & Stacey was the big winner at the British Comedy Awards, with prizes for its writers and co-stars Ruth Jones and James Corden.

The romantic comedy - which with seven nods was the most nominated show in the awards' history - took the best new British television comedy award, while Jones and Corden each took best newcomer prizes.

But the sitcom – which tells the story of a long-distance love affair between an Essex boy and a Welsh girl – lost out to Channel 4's Peep Show in the best comedy category.

And lead actor David Mitchell scooped the best actor prize for his role as the painfully awkward Mark Corrigan.

The awards ceremony was not screened live – for the first time in its 18-year history – because ITV1 opted to postpone the broadcast after its 2005 edition was embroiled in the recent TV phone-in scandal.

But Mitchell explained the lack of a live broadcast had failed to settle his nerves, explaining that he still had to accept his award in "a big room full of all the people we've worked with or have yet to work with".

"The day 1,000 people in a room don't make me panic will be a sad day," he told the BBC.

Veteran actress Liz Smith beat Jones and Catherine Tate to the best actress prize for her role in The Royle Family, and paid tribute to Caroline Aherne, one of the show's writers.

"I'm just so privileged to have had someone so brilliant as Caroline [Aherne] to have cast me," Smith explained.

"I'll very much miss it. My favourite parts these days are sitting on a sofa or in a bed."

Friday Night Project presenter Alan Carr was named best live stand-up comedian while BBC2 panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks took two awards, including one for new host Simon Amstell.

Accepting his award, Amstell joked: "Thanks to Mark Lamarr for leaving."

The 2007 British Comedy Awards winners in full:

Television comedy actor - David Mitchell, Peep Show
Television comedy actress - Liz Smith, The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba
Comedy entertainment personality - Simon Amstell, Never Mind the Buzzcocks
Male comedy newcomer - James Corden, Gavin and Stacey
Female comedy newcomer - Ruth Jones, Gavin and Stacey
New British television comedy - Gavin and Stacey
Television comedy - Peep Show
New comedy entertainment programme - Al Murray's Happy Hour
Live stand-up - Alan Carr
Comedy film - The Simpsons Movie
Best international comedy – Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Writers' Guild Ronnie Barker award - Simon Pegg
British comedy lifetime achievement award - Stephen Fry

06/12/2007 09:56:47