Culture: Awards for Stalwarts; the Great and the Good of the Region's Television Industry Gathered to Celebrate Another Year of Achievements at the Weekend, as Well as Two Decades of On-Screen History

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Byline: Sam Wonfor reports.

A DUO of the North-East's best-known and loved presenters took the top honours at the North-East and Borders 20th anniversary Royal Television Awards at the weekend.

Eric Robson was honoured for his 30- plus years in the business, while Luke Casey's long-running countryside chronicle series Dales Diary beat off competition from the likes of Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Our Friends in the North, Byker Grove and The Tube to pick up the ceremony's inaugural Viewer's Choice award.

Saturday night saw more than 700 glad-rag-clad guests from across the broadcasting industry taking their places inside The Sage Gateshead for an landmark evening of celebration and back slapping. And a right royal time they had, too, by all accounts.

Presented, as has been the form for many years, by ITV News presenter Nicholas Owen, the awards recognised achievements across news, documentaries, drama, student production, animation and post production... as well as the lifetime achievements of a certain Mr Robson.

The prestigious Centre Award was bestowed on the presenter and producer - marking more than three decades of success as a broadcaster and television documentary maker with series' such as Out of Town for ITV and as chairman of BBC Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time just two entries on his long and varied CV.

He was clearly delighted to accept the honour. "It's fantastic to be honoured in this way," he said.

"But much more important than an honour is how these awards have grown in scope and quality.

This is a place to be reckoned with. London had better watch out - we're on their tail!"

During the course of the ceremony, ITV1 psychological drama Wire in the Blood - which stars Robson Green - cemented its place as a major slice of the schedules by winning the Best Drama / Entertainment trophy for the second year running. The series is filmed on location throughout the region, and is made by Robson's Newcastle-based production company, Coastal.

The lower budget drama/entertainment award went to ITV Border's Still on the Road, which followed hard-working musicians and bands who continue their mile-counting tours - not for the fame and fortune which comes with chart-topping success - but for the sheer love of it. …