Fulfilling my self-appointed role as the reviewer who watches TV dross so you don't have to, I settled down to watch the annual National Television Awards, eager to see which stars of the small screen would win big. Supplies of Bombay Sapphire and Schweppes were laid in. The fridge was full of ice cubes in readiness. A great night of viewing beckoned.
How wrong can a woman be? Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) was robbed in the Best Drama Performance category, the award going instead to Sheridan Smith (Cilla). If I were Sarah I'd have been FEWMIN, not least because Ms Smith wasn't even there to receive it, as she was, we were told, "stuck in traffic". I like Shezza, but Sarah's was the better performance. And Sarah times her taxi journeys better.
There was a tedious air of predictability about the whole thing. In fact they should re-name the NTAs the AntandDecs and just have done with it, given that the Geordie twosome featured in a slew of categories and won most of them, hardly surprising given that this is the 14th year they have won the Best Entertainment Presenter category. Now I love Ant and Dec more than most, but anyone who has presented an entertainment programme over the past decade or so must feel about them the way Prince Charles probably feels about the Queen. Love ya and all that, but could you just give someone else a chance?
And there's no getting away from the fact that the NTAs are lacking somewhat on the prestige front. For example there is not, as far as I know, a Skills Challenge Show category at the television BAFTAs (although if there were, Mary Berry would win it, no contest). At the Oscars, Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch will not be squaring up to one another for the career defining bauble that is Best TV Judge. Any award ceremony that chooses to garland Mrs Brown's Boys with a laurel wreath has pretty much zero credibility anyway. But then the NTAs are voted for by the public, and the public thinks Mrs Brown's Boys is the funniest thing on television. Maybe they are right. In which case, I despair for humanity.
But what the National Television Awards lack in prestige, they make up for in time, boring on for two and a half hours, picking over everything from Serial Drama (soaps) and Serial Drama Performance (soaps) to Newcomer (soaps), by way of Daytime (daytime) and Multichannel (who the what now?)
Mary Berry lost out to David Walliams in the category of TV Judge. Someone off the Kardashians referred to Georgie Shore. A singer, perhaps? We weren't told. EastEnders won the Serial Drama award and lustily clapped themselves on their own achievement, redeeming their poor form at the last minute by dedicating the award to Anne Kirkbride. X Factor beat my beloved Strictly. Why was I bothering? I could have been watching Wolf Hall.
There were a few truly joyous moments. A hugely well-deserved Landmark Award (guess who won it last year) was presented to Comic Relief. David Tennant received a Special Recognition award, looking genuinely thrilled to bits as various co-stars, producers, writers and his dad lined up to say what a talented chap and and all-round good egg he was. Bet nobody says that about Simon Cowell. Gogglebox won the Factual category and Sandy and Sandra shrieked their unbridled delight. It would have taken a heart of stone not to be happy for them. Oh, and Thierry Henry, who should be on telly, not to mention in my house, much more often.
The whole thing could have been done and dusted in half an hour; 50 minutes tops, if you include the endless ad breaks. Why was it so long? it reminded me of Johnny Carson's peerless quote about the Oscars: "Two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over a four-hour show." Next year, ITV, cut it down, eh?