After a rip-roaring 50-year career in the world of showbiz, the irrepressible Billy Connolly is set to receive a ‘Special Recognition Award’ at this year’s National TV Awards (NTAs). The ‘Big Yin’ will be presented with the prestigious honour by no less than his good friend and Hollywood superstar, Dustin Hoffman.

Stand up genius

Connolly has been entertaining audiences across the world with his own mixture of observational humour and coarse language for longer than he would probably care to remember. At the grand age of 73, he is currently defying ailments that would prevent less hardy souls from carrying on working.

After receiving treatment for prostate cancer and being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2013, the battling Scotsman continues to perform. He embarked on a 16-night run at the Apollo Hammersmith in London earlier this month.

Dermot O’Leary hosts

The 21st edition of the NTAs will be hosted from The O2 Arena, London by the ever dependable Dermot O’Leary. Fresh from hosting last year’s Children in Need event on the BBC, when he stepped in at the last minute for regular stalwart Terry Wogan, O’Leary has been the main presenter for the annual NTAs since 2010. He stepped down as host for The X-Factor last year.

Poldark to sweep the board?

Determined by votes from the viewing public, the NTAs act as a celebration of the UK's favourite TV programmes and stars.

Among the categories to be decided will be the ‘TV Moment of the Year’, which affords the opportunity for Aidan Turner’s topless scything scene from Poldark to replicate its success in a recent Radio Times’ poll. Poldark is also among the nominees in the ‘New Drama’ category.

Other intriguing categories include:

  • Talent’ – the BBC’s celebrity dancing Show Strictly Come Dancing competes against ITV’s The X-Factor.
  • Serial Drama’ – will EastEnders prevail over Coronation Street?
  • Drama’ – does Doctor Who get your vote over Downton Abbey?
  • Drama Performance’Aidan Turner has strong competition from Sheridan Smith and David Tennant.
  • Entertainment Programme’ – a tough one to call, with The Graham Norton Show and Celebrity Juice against two Ant and Dec programmes, Saturday Night Takeaway and I’m A Celebrity.
  • Serial Drama Performance’ – will Danny Dyer (Mick Carter on EastEnders) prove more popular than Alison King (Carla Connor on Corrie)?
  • TV Presenter’ – Graham Norton will have to overcome two notable double acts, with Ant & Dec up against Mel & Sue.

The entertainment starts at 7:30pm on ITV on 20th January.