Stephen Merchant beat his comic partner Ricky Gervais to be named as the best TV comedy actor for his performance in Extras.

Merchant appears as incompetent acting agent Darren Lamb in the BBC2 show.

Gervais was nominated for his role as Andy Millman in the same show.

It seems that Gervais has no hard feelings about missing out on the award, however, as he joked via a video link from New York: "A British comedy award, quite a prize. Not to me, I've won American ones.

"But to people in that room this is probably the highlight of their career. Enjoy the night. I'm off to have dinner with Jerry Seinfeld and Ben Stiller."

Peep Show beat Extras and The Thick of It to be named as the best TV comedy show.

Charlotte Church and Russell Brand were named as the best female and male newcomers while Catherine Tate took home the award for the best TV comedy actress for her Christmas special.

Madonna presented a special award to Sacha Baron Cohen and the producers and writers behind the creation of spoof Kazakh reporter Borat.

Accepting the award, Cohen joked: "Borat would have been here tonight but he is the guest of honour at the Holocaust Denial Conference in Tehran."

Jonathan Ross hosted the ceremony, which was broadcast live on ITV1.

14/12/2006 12:40:47