NTAs 2020: 12 Surprising National Television Awards Winners From Years Gone By

Yes, that is Big Brother's Nikki Grahame.
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The National Television Awards offer a chance for the biggest names in TV to be honoured for their contributions over the past 12 months, as were these stars from compelling dramas, game-changing comedies and thought-provoking factual shows who received gongs over the years.

But a few of the more unexpected recipients from the vaults might come as something of a surprise.

Whether it’s an underdog proving everyone wrong, an unlikely star emerging triumphant or even just the inclusion of some rather bizarre categories, here are 12 of the most surprising NTAs winners from over the years...

Sam Aston - Most Popular Newcomer (2004)
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Sam had not long turned 11 when he was awarded the award for Most Popular Newcomer, for his portrayal of Chesney Brown in 'Coronation Street'.

It was a tough category too, with Patsy Kensit and Tracy-Ann Oberman both also up for the award.
Lily Savage - Most Popular Entertainment Presenter (1999)
A straight-talking drag queen from Birkenhead with a penchant for discussing her sex life in as much detail as censors allowed and 'Blankety Blank' mightn't seem like a fitting match, yet Lily Savage was a perfect host for the show in the mid-90s.

Long before the Best Presenter award became synonymous with Ant and Dec, Lily's efforts on the celeb-infused gameshow bagged her the gong (and once the wigs and sequinned gowns were firmly boxed up in his loft, Paul O'Grady would go on to snatch a few of his own too).
'Big Brother' - Most Popular Factual Programme (2001)
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Considering it was once the biggest show on telly, we're not exactly surprised to hear that 'BB' won an NTA, more that it was up in the Factual Programme category, following its second series in 2001.

Presenter Davina McCall wore this suit for the occasion which was... a choice, with 'BB' triumphing over 'Ground Force', 'Animal Hospital' and 'Crimewatch' in the category.
'Loose Women' - Most Popular Factual Programme (2010)
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Again, we're not surprised to hear that 'Loose Women' won an NTA, more that this is the category it was successful in, beating 'Top Gear' and 'The Apprentice' for the honour.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes - Most Popular Detective (2014)
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Apparently TV detective dramas were such a big deal in 2014 that they warranted their own category, with Sherlock going up against Idris Elba, Suranne Jones, David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Bradley Walsh.

Who'd have thought it... Benedict was unable to attend the ceremony (missing the chance to rub shoulders with Keith Lemon, Jeremy Kyle and the cast of 'Dancing On Ice'), but did send a video acceptance speech.
Sharon Osbourne - Most Popular Expert On TV (2005)
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As with Best TV Detective, we're more surprised to hear that Most Popular Expert was ever a category to begin with, let alone being won by Sharon.

Mrs O was up against Jeremy Clarkson, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver for the award, as well as fellow 'X Factor' judge Simon Cowell, who we're sure was just thrilled to lose to her.
'Stephen Fry In America' - Most Popular Star Travel Documentary (2009)
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No but seriously, enough "Star Travel Documentaries" existed in 2009 to warrant its own NTAs category?

Stephen Fry was the lucky recipient in the end, which was hard luck for 'Joanna Lumley In The Land Of The Northern Lights', 'Billy Connolly: Journey To The Edge Of The World' and 'Piers Morgan... On Dubai'.
Ant and Dec - Most Popular Entertainment Presenter (2001)
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Yes, of course we expect Ant and Dec to win the presenting award every year now, but when they first got the prize in 2001, it was a bit of a shock.

First, because they were up against big names like Michael Barrymore, Chris Tennant and Jim Davidson - but also because they were nominated for their work on Saturday morning kids' show, 'SM:tv Live'.
Nikki Grahame - Most Popular TV Contender (2006)
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Who is she? Who is she? She's a flipping NTA winner, that's who, particularly impressive given that she only came fifth in her series of 'Big Brother'.
Anna Friel - Most Popular Actress (1995)
Given she'd go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe, it's quite sweet that Anna Friel was the big winner at the first ever NTAs back in 1995, for her performance in 'Brookside'.

Here she is at the ceremony with then-boyfriend Robbie Williams, still a year away from releasing his debut solo single, a cover of George Michael's 'Freedom'.
'Celebrity Juice' - Multichannel (2015)
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Where else but the NTAs would you see 'Celebrity Juice' not only in the same category as 'The Walking Dead', 'Game Of Thrones' and 'Geordie Shore', but actually winning ?
Danny Dyer - Serial Drama Performance (2015)
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We'll admit, we were among those who giggled when it was first revealed that Danny was going to become the new landlord of the Queen Vic, way back in 2014. Who's laughing now?

No one was laughing just a year later, though, when his portrayal of Mick Carter was lauded by critics, and earning him multiple awards in the process.