NTAs: British stand-up comedians face backlash and Holly Willoughby digs at Phillip Schofield

Gemma Thomas
Gemma Thomas
6 Min Read

Drama at the NTAs: Stars No-Show, BBC Outshines ITV, and Controversy Stirs Over Jokes!

In a surprising turn of events, controversy enveloped the National Television Awards (NTAs). Some of the biggest names in the industry gave the ceremony a miss, and the BBC scooped major wins over ITV. As the drama unfolded, the audience, no doubt, was left on tenterhooks.

Holly Willoughby NTAS 2023
Holly Willougby at NTAs last night

Phillip Schofield’s conspicuous absence, a regular face for the past 14 years, became the talk of the town. This resulted in Holly Willoughby gracing the red carpet solo, just as the usually victorious “This Morning” suffered a blow. The show failed to take home the Daytime Award in the aftermath of Schofield’s scandal. The old guard shifted, and the BBC emerged as the victor, bagging awards in nine of the 16 categories.

Holly Willoughby didn’t mince her words at the National Television Awards on Tuesday night, hinting at tensions with her former co-star Phillip Schofield.

Holly and Phil in 2018

Just a few short hours after Phillip, 61, made the bold move to unfollow Holly, 42, on Instagram, Holly responded in kind, making what some could only describe as a veiled jab at her once-close confidant. Speaking candidly to The Sun at London’s O2 Arena, Holly commented on her tumultuous year, saying, “To be frank, it’s been a rollercoaster. This year has tested many, but what warms the heart is how people pull together, showing that true British spirit.”

Furthermore, she added, “Everyone’s eager for a fresh start, for things to turn a new leaf. It’s palpably different.”

This Morning NTA awards 2023
This Morning cast at the NTAs looking very glamorous

In another twist, the This Morning host skilfully sidestepped a question from a journalist that alluded to their famed partnership. On the red carpet, a Talk TV reporter asked Holly about the ‘This Morning’ bullying rumours and if she missed Phil at the awards. An aide and security quickly intervened, while Holly ignored the question, chatting with fans.

Earlier this year, the rumour mill went into overdrive when Phillip candidly admitted to having an “ill-advised but lawful” liaison with a younger colleague, leading to him taking his leave from ITV. To add insult to injury, it was an undeniably tough night for Holly. The atmosphere turned icy when the NTA audience showered the embattled show ‘This Morning’ with jeers during the gala.

When Jermaine Jenas and Ronan Kemp from the One Show announced the Best Time show nominees, ‘This Morning’ had won it for 12 straight years. But as a lighthearted clip from the show played, boos reverberated around the arena. This recent animosity stems from the ongoing controversy surrounding the Phillip Schofield saga. And in the final nail in the coffin for the night, the much-beloved ITV show lost the prestigious award to the BBC’s ‘The Repair Shop’.

Jay Blades NTA 2023
Jay Blades accepts his award for the The Repair Shop which beat Holly’s This Morning

However, despite BBC’s resounding success, several of its own stars remained conspicuously absent. Notables like Claudia Winkleman of ‘Traitors’ and ‘Strictly’, Graham Norton, James Norton of ‘Happy Valley’, writer Sally Wainwright, and Tess Daly gave the event a miss. Yet, as they say, the show must go on.

Lee Mack made heads turn during his acceptance speech. The comedian’s controversial remarks raised more than a few eyebrows and led to an uproar on social media platform X. While some found humour in his comments on diversity and a veiled jest about his award, others weren’t quite impressed, leading some to exclaim, “Lee Mack is gonna get cancelled now.”

The host, Joel Dommett, didn’t escape unscathed either. While some praised his jabs at Piers Morgan, others labelled him “over the top and irritating.” A far cry from a unanimous verdict.

EastEnders beat Coronation Street and Emmerdale in the Serial Drama categories, with Danielle Harold’s role as Lola Pearce-Brown winning hearts. Meanwhile, The Traitors stole the spotlight from Love Island, and The Graham Norton Show took home the Best TV Interview.

As the evening progressed, it became clear that the SAG-AFTRA strikes in the US influenced attendance, leading many A-listers to avoid the event. Netflix’s new drama “Wednesday” made waves, although its lead Jenna Ortega chose not to attend.

Ant and Dec celebrate a successful night at the NTAs

On the brighter side, it was another feather in the cap for the dynamic duo, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. Joel Dommett began with a joke about his wife’s labour and hinted Ant and Dec could help with baby duty. Securing their 22nd NTA for “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!”, their success was the silver lining on an otherwise tumultuous evening. “Repair Shop” won, delighting host Jay Blades, while “Happy Valley” clinched two major awards.

All in all, it was an evening to remember – full of surprises, snubs, and spats. As the curtains fell on the NTAs, it’s clear that when it comes to television, it’s never a dull moment.

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