English actors Emma Thompson and Paul Bettany took top honours at last night's (1FEB04) Evening Standard British Film Awards.

Forty-four-year-old Thompson, who won Best Actress for Love Actually, was the belle of the ball when she ditched her usual conservative dress for a sexy, thigh-skimming MARIA GRACHVOGEL pink dress and strappy GINA shoes.

Bettany was delighted to win Best Actor for his role in MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD and took the opportunity to praise the BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION (BBC), who dealt with a damning report on their handling of Iraq war dossiers last week (ends30JAN04).

As he received the gong, Bettany said, "I would like to thank the whole of the BBC. I'm married to an American (Jennifer Connelly) so it's nice to have somebody that tells things as they are."

Thompson's Love Actually co-star Bill Nighy was delighted with the honour of PETER SELLERS AWARD FOR COMEDY for his hilarious performance as aging rocker BILLY MACK.

Other winners at the event in London's SAVOY HOTEL were Kevin Macdonald for Best Film - for his mountaineering drama TOUCHING THE VOID - and teen actor MAX PIRKIS, for ITV LONDON'S MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER for his screen debut alongside Bettany and Russell Crowe in Master and Commander.

02/02/2004 13:31