US drama “Mad Men,” about an advertising agency in 1960s New York and shown on SBS, has won the prize for best international programme at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards.


Naturalist David Attenborough, actor Kenneth Branagh and comedy duo French and Saunders were also honoured with gongs at the event.

In a glittering ceremony in London, Attenborough picked up the specialist factual Bafta for “Life in Cold Blood,” his series on reptiles and amphibians — the eighth time he and his wildlife programmes have been honoured here.

Animals thanked

“Our thanks, of course, go to the spitting cobras, axolotls, golden frogs, dwarf chameleons, those happy tortoises, and this (award) belongs not to me or to them but the production team,” the 82-year-old said.

Actor and director Branagh, best known for his Shakespearean roles on stage and on screen, took his first Bafta for a television appearance for “Wallander,” which he produced and also stars in as a Swedish detective.

Accepting the best drama award, which comes 20 years after he won a film Bafta for Henry V, Branagh thanked the BBC for commissioning the show.

“They took a risk in wondering whether the world would be interested in the troubled life of a melancholy Scandinavian, but as I have spent half my life trying to make a living doing that, it wasn\’t such a stretch for me,” he said,referring to his performances as the Danish prince “Hamlet.”

\’Great honour\’

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, who have been cracking jokes together for the past 30 years, were jointly given the academy fellowship, which Saunders said was a “great honour.”

The Bafta for best actor went to Stephen Dillane for “The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall,” a drama about the death of a British peace activist in Israel.

Jonathan Ross, the BBC chat show host who was taken off the air for 12 weeks last year following public outrage over a lewd on-air prank, missed out on the best entertainment performance gong, which went to comedian Harry Hill.

Another favourite who missed out was June Brown, who has played the role of Dot Cotton in the soap opera “EastEnders” since 1985. She lost out in the best actress category to Anna Maxwell Martin for “Poppy Shakespeare.”