Al Gore Says Global Television Community Saved The Planet

Former US vice-president Al Gore urged the global television community to help get the word out about the climate crisis before it is too late as he accepted a special honour at the 35th International Emmy Awards.

British TV productions dominated the awards ceremony, winning seven of the nine categories, with BBC One's The Street enjoying wins for drama series and best actor.

Actor-director Robert De Niro introduced Mr Gore at the awards gala as this year's recipient of the International Emmy Founders Award for his efforts to promote "our common humanity".

De Niro wryly noted in his introduction that Mr Gore had "devoted his life to public service" and continued to do so "after he was elected President in 2000 and voted out of office by the Supreme Court".

"He has used his prominence as a concerned world leader to wield enormous influence," De Niro said. "When you see an international figure or head of state coming out in support of the fight against global warming look closely, you may see Al Gore behind him, pushing him."

Mr Gore had a special message for the audience of television executives, producers and performers from around the world who gathered in the grand ballroom of the Hilton New York Hotel for the awards ceremony presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"The climate crisis is by far the most serious challenge human civilisation has ever faced," said Gore, who has already won an Oscar for his global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth and will be travelling to Oslo, Norway, next month to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. "We really do now confront a true planetary emergency.

"We still have time to fix it. But this great powerful medium of television can be part of that solution because networks and channels all around the world represented here can help to get the word out while there is time."

Mr Gore was also honoured for his role as co-chairman and co-founder of the interactive Current TV cable and satellite network, which relies heavily on viewer-created short video segments.

"I think the future of democracy in our world depends to a surprising degree on democratising television," said Mr Gore.

"Current TV was designed from the start to connect the internet and television."

Britain had led all countries with eight nominations. Brazil had seven nominations, but was shut out on awards night. The International Emmys honour excellence in TV production outside the United States.

The only non-British winners were Poland's The Magic Tree for children's programme; the Netherlands' Pierre Bokma, for his role as a religious software entrepreneur in The Chosen One, for which he tied with Jim Broadbent of The Street for best actor; and French actress Muriel Robin, who won as best actress for her role as an infamous "black widow" serial killer in the true-life drama Marie Besnard - The Poisoner.

Robin said she was "so superstitious" that she thought it would be bad luck to prepare a winner's speech, so she wrote "a loser's speech" instead.

"From the bottom of my heart to you just simple words: emotional - a lot, happy - very, proud - yes, tears - not now, later in my bed. I dreamed so much of this moment."

But otherwise the awards ceremony was an all-British affair with BBC productions leading the way with six Emmys.

Each episode of The Street focuses on the residents of a different house on the same street in a city in northern England.

Broadbent, who missed the presentations, was honoured for his role as an embittered warehouse foreman approaching retirement.

"Really this award goes to the creator of The Street, Jimmy McGovern, whose characters have to face the inconvenient truth of their lives with honesty," said the show's executive producer, Sita Williams, in accepting the best drama series Emmy.

British comedian Stephen Fry took home the Emmy for best documentary for Stephen Fry - The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive about his own and other people's experiences living with bipolar disorder.

"This documentary was very important to me ... Manic depression is a pandemic chronic condition," said Fry. "We need to understand much more about it and most of all we need to address the urgent problem of the stigma."

Other British winners included Little Britain Abroad in the comedy category; How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? a competition to cast the role of Maria in a London production of The Sound of Music, for non-scripted entertainment, and Simon Schama's Power of Art: Bernini, about the 17th-century Roman sculptor, for arts programming.

"I wanted to prove that art actually isn't some sort of cultural luxury, it's our food and drink, it's our necessity," said Schama. "Art is a war against dreck. It actually shows us what our best we can do."

Of the British wins, the only non-BBC winner was in the TV movie/mini-series category - the More4 satellite channel's controversial docudrama Death of a President, which begins with the fictional assassination of George W. Bush.

Its producer-writer Simon Finch said the film wasn't meant to be "a liberal fantasy" or "anti-Bush".

"It was meant to be a film which was trying to say that there was something about the age of fear in which we live, about the danger of rushing to judgment," said Finch.

French actress Carole Bouquet presented the International Emmy Directorate Award to Patrick Le Lay, chairman of the TF1 Group, for his role in expanding the French network into one of the largest in Europe.

Le Lay said the television industry should not be thought of as an "old business" because TV programming is much in demand by the new technology from internet access providers to mobile phone companies.

National Broadcasting of Thailand won the special International Children's Day of Broadcasting Award, which this year dealt with the theme of Aids.

The event, hosted by Roger Bart, currently starring in the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein, featured several US television celebrity presenters, including Sam Waterston (Law & Order), Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos), Rob Morrow (Numb3rs) and George Wendt (Cheers).

The academy is the largest organisation of global broadcasters with more than 500 members from nearly 70 countries and more than 400 companies.

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