Lanky Extras star beats partner Ricky Gervais to Best Actor gong

At 6ft 7in, Stephen Merchant quite literally overshadows his 5ft 8in pal Ricky Gervais.

And this week, the 32-year-old actor – who plays useless agent Darren Lamb in BBC2 series Extras – beat his friend to be voted Best Actor at the British Comedy Awards.

Ricky Gervais was unable to attend the event in London, and sent the following comic message from New York: ‘A British Comedy Award? – quite a prize. Not to me, I’ve won an American one. But to people in that room, this is probably the highlight of their career. Enjoy the night. I’m off to have dinner with Jerry Seinfeld and Ben Stiller.’

The Best TV Comedy Actress prize went to Catherine Tate while David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s Channel 4 hit Peep Show was named Best TV Comedy Show.