EastEnders has dominated the Inside Soap Awards, taking home six gongs out of a possible 15 – including the award for best soap.
Danielle Harold took home best actress for her performance as Lola Pearce-Brown as the biggest faces from the soap world attended Salsa Temple in Victoria Embankment on Monday.
Lola’s journey came to an end when her last moments at home, surrounded by EastEnders characters paying tribute, were shown earlier this year following a brain tumour diagnosis.
The journey won best storyline and saw Isabella Brown, Lola’s daughter Lexi, named best young performer, Jamie Borthwick, who plays Lola’s husband Jay Brown, get best actor and Max Bowden (Lexi’s father Ben Mitchell) secure soap superstar of 2023.
Speaking about his win and the importance of Lola’s storyline ahead of the awards ceremony on Monday, Bowden told the PA news agency: “I lost my best mate to a brain tumour about 12 months before we started the story so it was emotionally gruelling, it was definitely tough, but as a unit we became incredibly close.
“We championed each other, we brought each other up when one of us was feeling down.
“So this, all of this, all of these awards they’re a team effort and this story’s hit home for a lot of people and that’s what we do.”
Elsewhere, Emmerdale’s the Dingles were named best family, and Mark Charnock (Marlon Dingle) and Dominic Brunt (Paddy Kirk), won the best partnership award.
Paddy’s suicide attempt and him attending a men’s support group has been a storyline that has been tackled by the village-set soap as Marlon tries to get him to open up.
Coronation Street’s Dame Maureen Lipman was awarded best comic performance, which was previously announced, for her role as Evelyn Plummer; and Todd Boyce was named best villain for his portrayal of Stephen Reid – the soap’s serial killer.
Best newcomer was awarded to Coronation Street’s Channique Sterling-Brown, who plays solicitor Dee-Dee Bailey and the best showstopper, for a showcase stunt or episode, was awarded for the acid attack story.
An instalment of the soap saw Justin Rutherford (Andrew Still) attempt to throw acid on Daisy Midgeley – who has been the victim of stalking in a long-running storyline.
Elsewhere, Inside Soap readers named Chris Walker their best daytime star for his depiction of police officer Rob Hollins in Doctors, while Casualty’s Nigel Harman, who is currently a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, collected the best drama star award for his role as Dr Max Cristie.
Marking more than a decade playing Hollyoaks’ Maxine Minniver, Nikki Sanderson won the outstanding achievement award for her dedication to the role.
Inside Soap editor, Gary Gillatt, said: “The big storylines of 2023 often proved a harrowing watch… cancer, stalking, misogyny and depression were the major themes tackled this year, and our trophies are awarded by an audience who’ve clearly responded to these challenging episodes.
“Though they’re also relieved to have Marlon and Paddy’s banter and Evelyn’s one-liners to lift the mood.”
Inside Soap is a weekly title published by Hearst UK.