Newcastle-born former pop stars and TV presenters Ant and Dec are to return their People's Choice prize, which they were awarded at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. The popular TV personalities decided to return the gong after an independent investigation into the 2005 British Comedy Awards revealed that they had not actually won.
The independent report into the British Comedy Awards, which was conducted by legal firm Olswang on behalf of ITV, showed that the Catherine Tate Show, a BBC comedy sketch show starring Doctor Who actress Catherine Tate, was the British audience's favourite, collecting more public votes than Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway to emerge as the genuine winners of the coveted People's Choice Award. Ant and Dec are three-times winners of the British Comedy Awards' People's Choice gong and have said that they are "absolutely appalled" by this scandal.
The Olswang report found insufficient evidence to indicate why the People's Choice award had been awarded wrongly to Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Despite this, the report did suggest that the gong might have been wrongly awarded to Ant and Dec due to the guest host, who was pop star Robbie Williamson. The report said: "Robbie Williams was invited to present an award. It was understood that he would be happy [to present the award] if the recipients were Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. In order to ensure his attendance, this assurance was given."
The report also said that it could not confirm or deny whether any of those involved knew that the wrong winner was being awarded a prize. The statement said: "There is no suggestion that Robbie Williams, Anthony McPartlin or Declan Donnelly were aware of any of these issues." In addition to this, the report suggested that bosses had chosen to tell Williams that his friends had won after the jury had decided on most of the night's winners and "the only award still to be decided was the People's Choice award."
ITV revealed the results of the investigation into the 2005 British Comedy Awards in a statement. The statement said that the TV channel was "embarrassed and deeply apologetic" about the findings, as well as being frustrated that the Olswang report into the irregularities surrounding the 2005 awards added "nothing of material significance to our original internal inquiry."
ITV decided to conduct their own independent investigation into the 2005 British Comedy Awards after they were investigated by media watchdog Ofcom as a result of their misuse of premium rate phone lines. As a result into their inquiry, Ofcom fined ITV a massive £5.68 million.
It is thought that ITV has passed on the findings of the Olswang report to Ofcom in order to help them continue their own investigation.