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Before an eclectic audience of European royalty, Hollywood stars and news media executives, a parade of winners took their bow for the world's oldest television prize – the "golden nymphs" – at the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo.

The festival, which was founded by the tiny principality's late Prince Rainier III in 1961, is now in its 58th year and has, for almost six decades, been ahead of the curve in crowning television over its older, grainier cousin.

This year's Australian nominees included the miniseries Sunshine, actor Anthony LaPaglia and the documentary series The Queen & Zak Grieve, but in a brutal finish all three came away empty handed.

Instead, the UK drama Little Boy Blue, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, American actor Tony Shalhoub and the Spanish drama La Casa De Papel ("The Money Heist") were among the night's big winners.

American actress Mariska Hargitay – the daughter of iconic film star Jayne Mansfield – was honoured with the festival's lifetime achievement award, the Crystal Nymph.

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Princess Charlene hosted the closing night awards gala at this year's Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo.

Photo: AFP

Past Crystal Nymph recipients include Dame Helen Mirren, Jerry Bruckheimer, Donald Sutherland, Patricia Arquette and Marg Helgenberger.

This year's festival guest list included actors Shemar Moore (SWAT), Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery), Ioan Gruffud (Harrow) and Darren Criss (American Crime Story).

Australian actress Alexandra Park, who stars in the American soap opera The Royals, also attended.

While the focus at the festival is on the Hollywood stars who pepper its red carpets, it also blends an eclectic mix of news industry leaders, Hollywood executives and a sprinkling of European royals including Monaco's reigning Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene.

Prince Albert hosted the festival's VIPs at a cocktail reception earlier this week at the Prince's Palace, built in 1191 as a fortress and occupied by the Grimaldi family since they captured it in 1297.

And the gala dinner which closes the festival was hosted by Princess Charlene, as well as a number of other European royals including the Duke of Castro, Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, his wife Princess Camilla and their daughters Princess Maria Carolina and Princess Maria Chiara.

Though we came away empty-handed this year, Australia has a historically strong showing at the 58-year-old festival.

Past nominees include The Moodys' Sacha Horler, Wentworth stars Robbie Magasiva and Danielle Cormack, actors Patrick Brammall, Darren Gilshenan and Helen Dallimore, and series as diverse as Top of the Lake and Here Come the Habibs.

This year's three nominees were strong contenders but were edged out in a highly competitive environment.

Sunshine – or Sunshine Kings, as it was known internationally – is a crime thriller set in Melbournes South Sudanese community; it aired on SBS in 2017.

The Queen & Zak Grieve, which was nominated in the documentary program category, explored the controversial imprisonment of Aboriginal man Zak Grieve; it has already been nominated for a Walkley award, a Screen Producers Australia award and the 2017 United Nations Media award.

This year's winners were drawn from a field of 38 nominated programs, representing work from filmmakers and journalists in 18 countries; material from more than 50 countries was submitted to the festival.

Monaco's Prince Rainier III founded the festival as a platform to "encourage a new art form, in the service of peace and understanding between men". It is held in Monaco each June.

The awards – named the Golden Nymphs – are considered to be among the world's most prestigious television awards; the statuette is based on the "Salmacis" Nymph by the Monegasque sculptor Francois Joseph Bosio.

Full list of winners

Long Fiction Program
Little Boy Blue, UK

Actor in a Long Fiction Program
Ewan McGregor (Fargo)

Actress in a Long Fiction Program
Sinéad Keenan (Little Boy Blue)

Comedy TV Series
The End of the F***ing World, UK

Actor in a Comedy TV Series
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)

Actress in a Comedy TV Series
Daisy May Cooper (This Country)

Drama TV Series
La Casa De Papel ("The Money Heist"), Spain

Actor in a Drama TV Series
Johannes Lassen (Gidseltagningen)

Actress in a Drama TV Series
Lynn Van Royen (Beau Séjour)

Documentary Program
FN Och Övergreppen ("Abuse and the UN"), Sweden

News Jury Prize
Mosul, UK

Television News Item
Libya Slave Auction, CNN International, USA/UK/Libya

Live Breaking News
Zimbabwe, BBC News, UK

Prix de l'audience internationale award for most watched action series
Scorpion, USA

Prix de l'audience internationale award for most watched drama series
Lethal Weapon, USA

Prix de l'audience internationale award for most watched telenovela
The Bold and the Beautiful, USA

Prix Spécial du Prince Rainier III
Forest Blind, South Korea, and
A Plastic Whale, Sky News, UK

Michael Idato

Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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