Dame Maggie Smith has become the first British success of the night at the Emmys, taking the award for best supporting actress in a drama series.
Dame Maggie plays the Countess of Grantham in popular period drama Downton Abbey, and she saw off stiff competition from Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad, Downton co-star Joanne Froggatt, and The Good Wife pair of Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi to get her hands on the gong.
On a night when Mad Men had been tipped for several honours, the early pace was set by Modern Family which made it look easy as the comedy's Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen claimed supporting actor awards.
Stonestreet was touching as he accepted the best supporting actor award for his role as half of a devoted gay couple on Modern Family.
"I wouldn't be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson, there is no Cam without Mitch," he said, saluting his co-star. "We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else."
Then he turned saucy: "I never knew I'd be on TV as a gay man, but I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me, it's really amazing. Thank you for those."
Elsewhere, Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer proved the show is thriving despite the departure of Charlie Sheen by winning the best comedy actor Emmy.
"Don't panic, people. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong. I'm stunned," said Cryer, who on the red carpet before the show has expressed confidence he would not win. Ashton Kutcher, who joined the show after Sheen was fired, was not nominated.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honoured as best actress in a comedy for Veep.
Homeland won the best writing award and its leading actor Damian Lewis also won, beating Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm.