8 JANUARY 2009

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Hollywood got in the mood for awards season at Wednesday's fun-filled People's Choice gala, where Hugh Laurie confirmed his status as the US TV scene's most popular British export by accepting two major trophies.

The Cambridge-educated actor scooped the favourite male title for his role as an acid-tongued medic in House joking: "I love people. Really, I'm in favour of them."

When his colleagues joined him at the podium to collect the best TV drama award he exclaimed: "I have no idea who these people are!" before quipping there weren't enough tuxes for the rest of the production team to join them.

Earlier Queen Latifah had set the light-hearted tone for the evening by stepping into the audience to ask celebrities if they could keep entertaining the masses in 2009. Emulating Barack Obama's election mantra, all of them replied: "Yes We Can".

The upbeat atmosphere had clearly rubbed off on Reese Witherspoon who was named favorite female movie star for her holiday season hit Four Christmases opposite Vince Vaughn.

She exchanged animated high-fives with audience members before bounding onto the stage. The actress, an 2005 Oscar winner for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk The Line, told the assembly: "A couple years ago, I won a great award for singing in a movie. This year, I won an award for having a baby throw up on me."

There was a sombre note struck during the evening, however, when Christian Bale, collecting one of the five awards garnered by Batman movie Dark Knight, dedicated it to his late colleague Heath Ledger.

Photo: Getty Images
House's Hugh Laurie had the audience in stitches with a series of wisecracks at the gala, where he picked up two major awards
Photo: Getty Images
The fun began when Queen Latifah descended into the audience to ask celebs if they were ready to entertain in 2009. "Yes We Can" they all replied, echoing Barack Obama's US presidential race mantra
Photo: Getty Images
Christian Bale accepts one of the five trophies awarded to Dark Knight