Sherlock and Doctor Who were among the favourites to win prizes at the London ceremony after garnering a total of five nominations between them, but it was Julian Fellowes' popular series, starring Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery, which landed the top honour.
Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of the fictional detective and Matt Smith's role as the Time Lord were also snubbed in the Best Male Performance in a Drama category - Colin Morgan claimed that title for his axed BBC series Merlin.
Former Doctor Who star Karen Gillen also missed out on an award - she lost out to Call the Midwife's Miranda Hart in the Best Female Performance category.
Meanwhile, long-running soap opera Coronation Street was a double winner at the event - it was named Best Serial Drama and Best Serial Drama Performance went to Alan Halsall.
Sir David Attenborough's Frozen Planet was named Best Documentary Series and Best Situation Comedy was handed to Mrs Brown's Boys.
Other winners at the annual TV prizegiving included Eastenders' David Witts (Best Newcomer), I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (Best Entertainment Programme), This Morning (Best Daytime Programme), QI (Best Comedy Panel Show) and Strictly Come Dancing (Best Talent Show).
Meanwhile, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were named Best Entertainment Presenters for the 12th year in a row.
The hugely successful series, which stars Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, collected one the main awards at the event, which celebrates the best in British TV.
Dr Who was also a big winner - the sci-fi series' stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan took home prizes for Top Male and Top Female performances
Simon Cowell's The X Factor was named Best Talent Show for a third year running, and TV favourites Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly broke National Television Awards records when they picked up the Best Entertainment Presenter(s) for an 11th successive year.
Comedian Alan Carr won the Best Talkshow prize for his popular Chatty Man series and the cast of Britain's longest running soap, Coronation Street, paid a special tribute to late actress Betty Driver, who passed away last year (11). Driver was a regular on the show for 42 years. The soap also took home the Best Serial Drama honour.
The funnyman, one half of popular duo Ant and Dec, has been left devastated after his father Alphonso lost his battle with cancer last Friday (19Aug11). He was 78.
Donnelly tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "My dad had lung cancer and was treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle (north England).
"I was with him at the end, with the family. I just want to be with them so we can all be together and to support them through this. It's been a tough summer."
The Baywatch star was launched skywards in a 'reverse bungee jump', which was filmed recently at London's Battersea Power Station for Cowell's upcoming series Red or Black, hosted by TV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.
Hasselhoff was pictured screaming during the stunt, which saw him reach 230 feet (70 metres) high.
A source tells Britain's The Sun, "David was petrified. Ant and Dec tried to calm him... afterwards David was punching the air. He said: 'That was a great adrenaline rush'."
The small screen star was watching a soccer match in The Barley Mow pub in Chiswick, West London when a man began to taunt him, shouting, "Where is your girlfriend?" - referring to McPartlin's comedy partner Declan Donnelly.
The unnamed punter, believed to be a teenager, then lunged at McPartlin.
Eyewitness Giedrius Kudzinskas tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "Ant didn't react and this bloke launched himself at him and punched him in the face.
"Ant reeled back and then a big fight broke out as his mates came to help him. Other people jumped in and held back the other guy.
"The bloke was thrown out but when Ant left later, he was waiting for him. There was another lot of shouting and then Ant walked off.
"It was all totally unprovoked. He was furious about what he had said to him."
A spokesperson for McPartlin has confirmed the star was hit but will not press charges.
The 70 year old headed into the Australian outback last week (ends15Nov09) and teamed up with British TV personality Kim Woodburn to trek through the jungle into camp.
As part of the show, the celebrities all face a daily challenge, with the public voting for the star they want to tackle the hideous tasks.
But hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly revealed to viewers on Tuesday (17Nov09) that Hamilton was ineligible for the mystery challenge, named Celebrity In A Bottle.
They told the actor, "George you're ruled out of this one on medical grounds once again."
Hamilton was also ruled out of participating in Monday night's (16Nov09) task.
It comes as Hamilton reveals he is only taking part in the show to raise awareness of malaria, which killed one of his pals in 1970.
He says, "I have seen the effects of malaria first-hand. Sean, my best friend growing up, caught the disease. The loss of Sean had a profound and long-lasting effect on me. I hope my time in the jungle can help awareness about our ability to stop deaths from this disease."
The Los Angeles Galaxy player agreed to provide the hip-hop style middle section in a re-recording of the British band's 1990 football anthem World In Motion.
The track would have been used as England's official World Cup song - but bosses at the U.K.'s Football Association (FA) stepped in at the last minute and ruled I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly should be used instead.
New Order bass player Peter Hook tells British radio station TalkSport, "I think for the last World Cup, (late music mogul) Tony (Wilson) lined up Beckham to do the rap and we were going to redo the song. But the FA then reconsidered it, saying 'No, no, no, we're going with Ant and Dec.'
"I would have thought that was a hell of a chance. I would have loved to have heard Beckham do a rap and he was up for it."
As Love Actually begins we are told that perhaps the world isn't such a dire and hateful place that "love actually is all around." Around London anyway. The film explores no less than seven different romantic scenarios within the bustling British capital--all of which interconnect and eventually resolve on Christmas Eve. There's the newly elected dashing Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who is smitten with his secretary the earthy Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); Karen (Emma Thompson) whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) has strayed with his seductive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch); Sarah (Laura Linney) the American wallflower who has a crush on her colleague Carl (Rodrigo Santoro); Jamie (Colin Firth) who falls for his pretty Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz)…there are lots more but you get the gist. As love goes things may not get tied up neatly in brightly colored packages for everyone but there's still enough good cheer to spread around.
Showcasing some of Britain's finest actors Love Actually doesn't have a bad banana in the bunch. Floppy-haired Hugh Grant turns in an endearing performance and proves there isn't a romantic comedy he can't handle. He has an uncanny knack for connecting with any actress he happens to be romancing; in this case it's the adorable McCutcheon best known for the hit British TV drama EastEnders. Rickman and Thompson are quite good as the couple whose long-term marriage is beginning to crack; Thompson especially does a nice job trying to hide her pain while being a happy mom. Linney too shines as Sarah who glows with excitement when she finally gets what she so ardently wished for. Veteran stage and film actor Bill Nighy (Underworld) however steals the show as a carefree aging rock star desperate for a comeback. His Billy Mack smacks of Mick Jagger Keith Richards and Rod Stewart all rolled into one.
"I'm worried that we don't have the word 'massacre' in the title " writer/director Richard Curtis fretted to Entertainment Weekly referring to how horror-loving American audiences might not take to his new romantic comedy that is already a huge hit in Britain. True perhaps a romantic comedy starring a multitude of A-list British actors might not bring in the required masses. But who cares about the money (did I just say that)? Curtis who has written some of the best romantic comedies of the last decade including Four Weddings and a Funeral Notting Hill and Bridget Jones' Diary steps behind the camera for the first time here and is able to give each story a unique point of view from the lovesick to the wacky. There actually may be too many stories in Love Actually but it's a small gaffe. Love Actually is a refreshing good old fashioned warm and gushy movie that takes your mind off the bad things for the holiday season and Curtis should feel confident about his directing debut.