Martin Compston has dedicated Line Of Duty’s National Television Award (NTA) to their fans and said their "enthusiasm and dedication never ceases to amaze" him.

The police drama won the award for returning drama, beating programmes including The Crown and Call The Midwife.

Jed Mercurio’s hit police procedural, which aired its sixth and potentially last instalment earlier this year, was also awarded the special recognition award at the NTAs with star Adrian Dunbar hinting at a new series, saying: "Who knows, we might be back."

Compston said in the winners room: "I think we must be the most nominated show who’s lost it so it felt great.

"We started as this wee show on a Wednesday night on BBC Two, and to see how its grown and it’s all because of the fans.

"Their enthusiasm and dedication never ceases to amaze me, so this is for everybody who’s voted for us so thank you very much."

While discussing Mercurio’s writing on the show, Compston added: "I think that’s the strongest he’s ever written, so it makes you go, 'Will we ever go again’, which we know we won’t but it gets you hoping because he was writing better than ever."

Nigel Boyle, who plays Ian Buckells in the show, added: "It’s been over a decade now, it’s been 11 years when I first auditioned back in 2010.

"But yeah, it’s just evolved and evolved and it’s just this massive web of deceit that’s just been amazing to see and every time we get a new script it’s just amazing."

Elsewhere in the ceremony, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly won the best TV presenter prize for a 20th consecutive time.

McPartlin said while collecting the prize: "This one means the most. Twenty years. This is really, really special. You have no idea how special this is."

Donnelly added: "When you get to 20, you can't help but stop and look back at the first time we won in 2001, and so much has changed in both our lives since then but one thing that hasn’t changed is how unbelievably grateful we are that you take time year after year to watch both of us."

The new drama prize went to It's A Sin, with creator Russell T Davies dedicating the win to "those we lost, those who lived, those who learned and those we loved" during the Aids crisis.

After Life won the comedy award, beating shows such as Sex Education, The Vicar Of Dibley and Friday Night Dinner.

Creator Ricky Gervais jokingly said on stage: "I will keep it short. It’s already interminable. Thank you for Netflix for all their support and their total lack of interference. They are just the best broadcaster."

Here is the full list of the winners at the 2021 National Television Awards:

Bruce Forsyth entertainment award – I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Returning drama – Line Of Duty
Challenge show – The Great British Bake Off
Serial drama performance – Mollie Gallagher in Coronation Street
Comedy – After Life
New drama – It’s A Sin
Quiz game show – Beat The Chasers
Factual – Googlebox
Newcomer – Jude Riordan in Coronation Street
Authored documentary – Kate Garraway for Finding Derek
Special recognition – Line Of Duty
Daytime – This Morning
TV presenter – Ant and Dec
Drama performance – David Tennant in Des
Talent show – Strictly Come Dancing
Serial drama – Coronation Street

Source: Press Association

Watch Line of Duty series 1-5 on RTÉ Player.

Watch Ant and Dec's DNA Journey on RTÉ Player.

Watch Kate Garraway: Finding Derek on RTÉ Player.