The National Television Awards return for 2021

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Thursday: The National Television Awards 2021; (ITV, 7.30pm)

We’ve had to wait longer than usual for The National Television Awards 2021 – the previous ceremony took place in January 2020.

An awful lot has changed over the course of those 20 months and TV came to play an even more central role in many people’s lives, mainly because we spent a lot of it unable to go out. So, it’s just as well that during that time, there were a lot of great shows to keep us entertained.

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It means that this year’s ceremony should feel particularly special. As the winners are voted for by the public, it will be an insight into what programmes helped us through the lockdowns. And, after months when crowds seemed like a thing of a past, the ceremony comes from The O2 in London, in front of an audience of celebrities and fans.

Joel Dommett, who is hosting for the first timeJoel Dommett, who is hosting for the first time
Joel Dommett, who is hosting for the first time

Joel Dommett, who is hosting for the first time, is certainly looking forward to it. He says: “It’s a huge honour to be hosting the NTAs this year! It still feels like someone has made a wonderful error.

“I really, really love TV and can’t wait to celebrate the best stuff from what’s been a very weird year or so. I’m also really hoping The Masked Singer wins something so I can present an award to myself. That’s a creative narcissist’s dream!”

He could be in with a chance. The Masked Singer has been nominated in the Talent Show category but will face tough competition from old favourites Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent, as well as Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, which became a social-media hit.

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Another show that definitely got people talking was Normal People, which emerged as one of the first lockdown hits. We’ll find out if viewers have stayed faithful to this tale of young love as it goes up against Bridgerton, Des and It’s a Sin in the New Drama category.

In Returning Drama, the ratings-grabbing Line of Duty would seem to be the one to beat. (It also dominates Drama Performance, where stars Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure have grabbed three of the five spots.)

However, could that divisive season finale see the voters hand the gong to Unforgotten, Call the Midwife, or the Charles-and-Diana focused fourth series of The Crown?

There’s also a new award this year for Authored Documentary, and the nominees include Kate Garraway: Finding Derek, Katie Price: Harvey and Me, Rob Burrow: My Year with MND and Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency. However, many viewers probably wouldn’t bet against footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, who this year made political waves as well as the documentary Feeding Britain’s Children.

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Other categories include Daytime, Comedy, Challenge Show, The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award, Factual, Newcomer, Serial Drama, Serial Drama Performance and Quiz Show.

But perhaps all eyes will be on TV presenter, where Ant and Dec are hoping to see off Holly Willoughby, Bradley Walsh, Piers Morgan and Alison Hammond and grab their 20th award in a row.

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