Ricky Gervais is pitted against long-time writing partner Stephen Merchant in the best comedy performance category at tonight's Bafta television awards.

The pair, who co-wrote cult comedy drama The Office, have both been nominated for their performances in their subsequent show Extras.

Gervais stars as struggling actor Andy Millman in the comedy which features Merchant as his hapless agent Darren Lamb.

The funnymen will be competing against six-time Bafta nominee Dawn French, who is nominated for her lead performance in The Vicar of Dibley, while veteran actress Liz Smith gets her first Bafta nod in eighteen years for her performance as Nana in The Royle Family finale, Queen of Sheba.

Meanwhile Jim Broadbent is pitted against Longford co-star Andy Serkis in the best actor category, which also features Michael Sheen for his performance as Carry On comic Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa! and John Simm for his role as time travelling detective Sam Tyler in the 1970s cop drama Life On Mars.

Last week Simm's co-star Philip Glenister revealed that he was glad he had not been nominated against him for the prize, telling BBC Radio Two that it "would have been difficult."

A host of other stars are expected to turn out for this year's Bafta ceremony, which will be held at the London Palladium and screened on BBC1.

Victoria Wood, who receives her 12th Bafta nomination, is up for best actress for her role in the drama Housewife, 49. Samantha Morton is also nominated in the category for her starring performance as Myra Hindley in Longford and will be competing against Anne-Marie Duff for The Virgin Queen and first time nominee Ruth Wilson who is up for her part in Jane Eyre.

A number of programmes have also been nominated for the first time this year including ITV1's Dancing on Ice, which will be battling to snatch the best entertainment crown from the channel's hit talent show The X Factor.

20/05/2007 12:13:00