'EastEnders' scooped the Best Soap prize at the British Soap Awards for the fourth year in a row last night (14.05.11).

The London based programme beat off strong competition from main rival 'Coronation Street' along with 'Emmerdale', 'Doctors' and 'Hollyoaks' in a ceremony held at the ITV studios in Manchester.

Shane Richie - who plays pub landlord Alfie Moon - revealed he was delighted with the accolade after the soap was criticised for its controversial baby swap storyline.

He said: "It caused controversy, but I'd hate to think that EastEnders would be guilty of mediocrity because we're certainly not that. We certainly pushed the parameters back more so than other soaps, but whether we get it right all the time, that's not for me to say."

However 'Coronation Street' didn't go home empty handed, picking up a total of eight awards including Best Storyline for the end of the road for the Websters and the Dobbs as the affair between mechanic Kevin Webster and his best friend's wife Molly Dobbs was revealed and Most Spectacular Scene for the tram crash.

Bill Tarmey - who played Jack Duckworth in the soap - was also honoured with two awards for Best Soap Exit and a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Of the Best Exit Award, Bill told the Daily Star Sunday: "This was a real team effort.

"Everybody from lights to sound to wardrobe to props should be sharing this with me - most of all the writers and Tony Prescott, who directed the final scenes so sensitively.

"When I get back I'm going to ask Tony to mind the award for me."

Of the Lifetime award, he added: "This is a tremendous honour. I still miss Jack. I wake up at five or six each morning thinking I've forgotten my script. Then I realise I'm retired.

"I'm still getting used to it but I don't regret my decision to quit. I'm only a couple of steps from the knacker's yard.

The ceremony will be screened on ITV1 at 8pm on Wednesday (18.05.11).

When I get back I'm going to ask Tony to mind the award for me.

British Soap Awards 2011 Winners

SEXIEST MALE

'EastEnders': Scott Maslen (Jack Branning)

SEXIEST FEMALE

'Coronation Street': Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre)

VILLAIN OF THE YEAR Coronation Street:

'Hollyoaks': Emmett J Scanlan (Brendan Brady)

BEST ACTOR

'Emmerdale': Danny Miller (Aaron Livesy)

BEST ACTRESS

'EastEnders': Jessie Wallace (Kat Moon)

BEST BRITISH SOAP

'EastEnders '

BEST COMEDY PERFORMANCE

'Coronation Street': Patti Clare (Mary Taylor)

BEST DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE

'Coronation Street': Jane Danson (Leanne Barlow)

BEST YOUNG PERFORMANCE

'Coronation Street': Alexander Bain (Simon Barlow)

BEST EXIT

'Coronation Street': Bill Tarmey (Jack Duckworth)

BEST NEWCOMER

'Hollyoaks': Emmett J. Scanlan (Brendan Brady)

BEST ON-SCREEN PARTNERSHIP

'EastEnders': Jessie Wallace and Shane Richie (Kat and Alfie Moon)

BEST STORYLINE

'Coronation Street': End of the line for the Websters and Dobbs

SPECTACULAR SCENE OF THE YEAR

'Coronation Street': The Tram Crash

BEST SINGLE EPISODE

'Coronation Street': Coronation Street Live

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Gavin Blyth: 'Emmerdale'

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Bill Tarmey: 'Coronation Street'