A drama about serial killer Fred West and the reworking of the Sherlock Holmes story were big winners at the TV Baftas in London, where Australian performer Rolf Harris was honoured for his work, but the ABC series The Slap missed out on the International prize.
Dominic West, who played the murderer, won the Leading Actor gong for Appropriate Adult.
His co-star Emily Watson was given the Leading Actress award for her role as Janet Leach, the "appropriate adult" who sat with West in police interviews.
Accepting the award on stage at the Royal Festival Hall, Watson admitted she had doubts about the program when first approached about it.
"When I first heard about this show I thought I probably shouldn't do it because of the subject matter - and then I read the script," she said.
Dominic West, who has also starred in The Wire, said he program "required incredible sensitivity and judgment".
He paid tribute to the real-life appropriate adult who worked on the case, saying: "I hope she has had some closure and we have honoured the suffering she endured and the suffering of all the West's victims living and dead."
Actress Monica Dolan, who played Rose West, won the Bafta for Supporting Actress - which actor Timothy Spall described as the gong for "best upstager" as he handed over the award.
Dolan said the role had been a "privilege" to play, before paying tribute to West's victims, many of whom were never reported missing.
"I'd love to live in a world where everyone was missed," she said.
The Union flag-themed red, white and blue carpet outside London's Royal Festival Hall saw stars of the small screen including Ricky Gervais, Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch and the cast of Coronation Street pose for photographs before the evening ceremony, hosted by Dara O'Briain, got under way.
Sherlock was another big winner, winning the award for best supporting actor and having a Special Award handed to the series writer.
Andrew Scott, who played the villainous Moriarty in the series, thanked his parents as he picked up his award and paid tribute to the "exceptionally talented Mr Benedict Cumberbatch" who plays Sherlock.
Speaking backstage, Scott said he had not watched earlier versions of Moriarty.
"I just tried to look at what's dark within my own self," he said.
The Special Award was presented to Sherlock and Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat by the shows' two stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith.
Sherlock actor Cumberbatch described Moffat as "a word machine" and said "his name is a byword for quality family entertainment", while Doctor Who star Smith described the writer as "brilliantly cantankerous".
Accepting the award, the Scot said he owed a great deal to "the two best things the British have ever given to the world: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who".
Jennifer Saunders won the award for Female Performance in a Comedy Program for her return to Absolutely Fabulous. The star said: "That was a bit of a shock, thank you for still finding it funny."
The award for Entertainment Performance went to Graham Norton, who presented the Eurovision Song Contest coverage.
Newsreader Kate Silverton presented the Single Documentary award to BBC2's Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die - the best-selling author's examination of euthanasia.
Pratchett, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, thanked the BBC for "allowing us to tackle this rather strange subject for a documentary".
He also paid tribute to the family of Peter Smedley who allowed the documentary film to show his final days in the run-up to his death at a clinic.
"It turned us about a bit but we saw what happened and so did you," Pratchett said.
Critically acclaimed ABC series The Slap had been nominated for the International prize, but it was beaten by Danish political drama Borgen.
The last award of the night was the Bafta Fellowship, given to veteran Australian artist and entertainer Rolf Harris.
Presenting him with the award, actor Robert Lindsay said he was "a national British treasure" and introduced a film of tributes from big names including Russell Crowe.
Harris came on stage to a standing ovation, brandished his award and joked: "I was going to say 'Can you tell what it is yet?', but perhaps I won't."
The star, who described himself as "humbled", said: "How amazing is it to discover what you love doing most can become your career, if you've been as lucky as I have been."
The list of winners at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2012:
Leading actor - Dominic West (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Leading actress - Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Supporting actor - Andrew Scott (Sherlock, BBC1)
Supporting actress - Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, ITV1)
Entertainment performance - Graham Norton (The Graham Norton Show, BBC1)
Female performance in a comedy program - Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, BBC1)
Male performance in a comedy program - Darren Boyd (Spy, Sky One)
Special Award - Steven Moffat
Bafta Fellowship - Rolf Harris
Single drama - Random (Channel 4)
Mini series - This Is England '88 (Channel 4)
Drama series - The Fades (BBC3)
Soap and continuing drama - Coronation Street(ITV1)
International - Borgen (BBC4)
Factual series - Our War (BBC3)
Specialist factual - Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret (Channel 4)
Single documentary - Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die (BBC2)
Features - The Great British Bake Off (BBC2)
Reality & Constructed Factual - The Young Apprentice (BBC1)
Current Affairs - Panorama: Undercover Care - The Abuse Exposed (BBC1)
News Coverage - Channel 4 News: Japan Earthquake (Channel 4)
Sport & Live Event - The Royal Wedding (BBC1)
New Media - Psychoville (BBC Online)
Entertainment Program - Derren Brown: The Experiments (Channel 4)
Comedy Program - Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (BBC2)
Situation Comedy - Mrs Brown's Boys (BBC1)
YouTube Audience Award - Celebrity Juice (ITV2)