DAME JUDI Dench won the first big award of the evening at the Olivier Awards and joked she was “livid” as her win meant she had lost a bet with her grandson.
Heworth-born Dame Judi was named best actress in a supporting role for The Winter’s Tale at the ceremony being held at London’s Royal Opera House.
The veteran actress was presented with her award by The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time star Luke Treadaway.
She said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m absolutely livid as I had a bet with my grandson ... and I’m never going to be able to forget it.”
She praised “a really fantastic company and crew and stage management”, saying of the award: “It’s lovely to have, but in actual fact it belongs to all those people just as much as it belongs to me.”
Sherlock creator Mark Gatiss joined the prestigious winners’ list as he was named best actor in a supporting role for Three Days In The Country.
Gatiss said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed, I can’t tell you what this means to me. It was an amazing performance and a gift of a part. I’m thrilled to bits, thank you very much.”
The first award - for best revival - was presented by Downton Abbey star Jim Carter and Julia McKenzie to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Sir Lenny Henry presented the best entertainment and family award to Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.
The evening’s host Michael Ball delighted the audience as he took to the stage in a pair of red, patent leather high heel boots.
He joked: “Why wasn’t I cast in Kinky Boots, Nell Gwynn or Gypsy? Tonight I think I’ve got to prove I’ve been overlooked.”
He then joined best actor in a musical nominees Matt Henry and Killian Donnelly and the cast of Kinky Boots as they kicked off a performance from the show.
Gypsy scooped its first award of the evening for best lighting design, which was awarded to Mark Henderson and was presented by Harry Potter And The Cursed Child actress Noma Dumezweni and The History Boys star Stephen Campbell Moore.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa presented the award for best new opera production to Kasper Holten for Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci.
Holten said: “When you take risks you sometimes fail, but maybe now it is the time to remember when you take risks you can sometimes succeed.”
Dame Kiri then presented Martin Fitzpatrick from ENO Chorus and Orchestra with the award for outstanding achievement in opera.
Fitzpatrick said: “The chorus and orchestra of a company are a vital part of their lifeblood, it’s imperative we create an environment in which they are cherished and supported.”
Oscar-winner Mark Rylance lost out on winning another big award as Kenneth Cranham took home the best actor award for The Father.
A tearful Cranham thanked his fellow cast members and the play’s director James Macdonald.
“He’s a wonderful director, very kind, he’s very perceptive and he let’s you find your performance and he directs further on down the line.”
He teared up as he thanked his agent, Stephanie Randall, saying “the things that’s happened to her and the way she’s been on this play has been fantastic”.
Denise Gough used her best actress win for People, Places And Things to register her concern that all actresses nominated in her category are white.
After accepting the award from James Norton, she said: “Okay I’ve got 40 seconds so I’ve got to be quick. This is for my people, you all know who you are.”
She then said she she was “just a bit disappointed” that, in a year marked by widespread uproar about the lack of diversity at awards shows, she was “sad” about the lack of diversity among the nominees in her own category.
She added: “I’m taking Noma Dumezweni and Marianne Jean-Baptiste with me.”