11 MAY 2009 The EastEnders cast had plenty to celebrate at this year's British Soap Awards after picking up seven trophies, including the coveted best soap gong. In doing so they beat rivals Coronation Street, Doctors, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, for the second year running.
There was a big surprise on the night for the soap's matriarch Barbara Windsor, who was called to the stage to collect a lifetime achievement award. "She really had no idea this was coming," said her co-star Steve McFadden, who made the announcement along with his on-screen brother Ross Kemp.
After a kiss from husband of nine years Scott Mitchell, Barbara stepped up to the podium. And, with many of the show's cast including June Brown and Samantha Janus looking on she thanked the show's producers.
"Fourteen years ago they gave me the chance to re-invent myself, and for that I shall be eternally grateful," said the 71-year-old, adding: "Next year I'll be celebrating 60 years in the business. It's a job I absolutely adore and I get paid for it isn't it wonderful!".
Cheryl Fergison aka Enders launderette lady Heather Trott - was in high spirits before the bash kicked off, horsing around for the cameras outside the BBC TV centre venue with castmate Cliff Parisi, who plays Rick 'Minty' Peterson.
Kara Tointon - the actress behind Dawn Swann - also made an impression as she arrived on bombshell form in a cream gown complete with grass-style skirt.
Other winners on the night included Corrie's Katherine Kelly, who was named best actress for her turn as Becky Grainger, and the show's Craig Gazey, who plays eccentric bad lad Graeme Proctor. Craig picked up the best newcomer prize, one of six gongs won by the Weatherfield crew. BBC's Doctors landed three honours, while Hollyoaks went home empty-handed.
A programme covering the ceremony, hosted by This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield, airs on ITV at 8pm on May 18.