Julie Walters and Ben Whishaw took the top acting awards as British TV productions won five International Emmys on a night that saw Brazil get its first ever for a Bollywood-style telenovela.
The highlight of Monday night's 37th International Emmy Awards Gala came when ABC's Barbara Walters presented the honorary Founders Award to British TV personality David Frost.
"I'm not exactly chopped liver when it comes to doing interviews," Walters told the audience at the Hilton New York Hotel. "But in my opinion and the opinion of millions who have watched and listened to him for so many years, David is the best interviewer there is and he makes it look so easy."
Presenter Edie Falco, star of "The Sopranos," accepted the best actress award on behalf of Julie Walters, who was off on location playing the role of Molly Weasley in the next Harry Potter film.
Walters won the Emmy for her role in the real-life BBC drama "A Short Stay in Switzerland" in which she portrays a British doctor who is diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease and seeks assisted suicide in a Zurich clinic.
Whishaw also missed the awards ceremony, which was hosted by British TV presenter Graham Norton, because he had just opened in a new play in London. He got the best actor Emmy for the 5-part BBC thriller "Criminal Justice" about a young man accused of murdering a woman after a drunken, drug-filled night out, though he is unable to remember what happened.
While Britain won five of the 10 categories, the awards were spread out among more countries compared with previous years. The International Emmys honor excellence in TV programming outside the U.S.
Brazil took home its first-ever Emmy for "India: A Love Story" in the telenovela category. The TV Globo production shot on location at the Taj Mahal and other scenic Indian locales focuses on an upper caste woman's forbidden romance with an "untouchable" man.
Denmark's "The Protectors" about a special unit within Denmark's intelligence service was chosen the best drama series, while Japan's "Hoshi Shinichi's Short Shorts," based on the late writer's offbeat tales, was selected as best comedy.
The Netherlands won the non-scripted entertainment category for "The Phone" in which contestants who answer a ringing phone in a public place get plunged into a spy movie plot to win prizes.
The TV movie/mini-series award went to Germany's "The Wolves of Berlin, which tells the story of a youth gang that comes together in the ruins of post-war Berlin in 1948 up through the fall of the Wall in 1989.
Other British winners included "Dustbin Baby," about an adopted teenager, for children & young people's programming; "The Ascent of Money," a history of world finance by economic historian Niall Ferguson, for best documentary; and "The Mona Lisa Curse," with Australian critic Robert Hughes reflections on contemporary art, for arts programing.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on videotape to honor Frost, joking that one thing they share in common is being played by actor Michael Sheen in films (the Oscar-nominated "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon") although "personally I think he was better as you."
Barbara Walters noted that Frost holds the unique distinction of having interviewed seven U.S. presidents as well as seven British prime ministers during a career in which he's hosted and produced his own shows for more than 40 years, including the current "Frost Over the World" for Al Jazeera English.
In his remarks, Frost displayed the same wit that gained him prominence on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1960s as host of the groundbreaking BBC satirical program "That Was The Week That Was."
"Those were very different days back then," said the 70-year-old Frost. "Digital television just meant switching on your set with your finger and if you had a 3 1/2 inch floppy that was something you kept very quiet about."
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is German-born, presented the honorary Directorate Award to Markus Schachter for his leadership of Germany's ZDF television network.
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