So the British Comedy Awards were broadcast last night, and for the third year running the event - including the television coverage - was sponsored by UK communications company One.Tel. During those three years One.Tel claims to have doubled its brand awareness. Mike Holliday-Williams, marketing director for One.Tel, claims that: "The British Comedy Awards are an excellent fit for our brand and present a great opportunity to convey some of our key values to our audience." And according to Sue Wills, head of sponsorship and brand development at Unique Communications Group (which produced the 2004 Awards event through Michael Hurll Television): "It is testament to the drive of One.Tel and the continuing success of the British Comedy Awards that this has become a well known comedy double act of its own."
So it seems that everyone is smiling. But it could have been oh so different. The British Comedy Awards have a history of controversy, including a decidedly non-family audience joke from camp comedian Julian Cleary which saw him exiled from the airwaves for a considerable time. At other Awards events the now disgraced presenter Michael Barrymore caused havoc by ripping out the host's in-podium autocue, while legendary comedian Spike Milligan reacted to a royal tribute from Prince Charles by calling him "a grovelling little bastard". So it was a brave move by One.Tel to announce its first sponsorship deal with the British Comedy Awards in 2002, and for that ... we salute you!