EastEnders was the big winner at this year’s Inside Soap Awards, although it lost the top prize to rival soap Emmerdale.

The BBC programme took home five trophies, including the coveted best actor and best actress awards for Steve McFadden – aka Phil Mitchell – and Lacey Turner, who plays Stacey Fowler.

Albert Square’s Tameka Empson, who is currently competing on Strictly Come Dancing, scooped funniest female for her role as Kim Fox-Hubbard – a prize she has won five times.

Readers of the magazine voted in each category and crowned the soap’s Jacqueline Jossa sexiest female.

Jacqueline Jossa (Yui Mok/PA)

EastEnders’ fifth accolade was for best exit, for the departure of Peggy Mitchell.

The Walford stalwart, who was played by Dame Barbara Windsor since 1994, took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in scenes broadcast in May.

She said of the storyline: “I was nervous (about saying goodbye to Peggy), of course I was.

“But Peggy’s exit was wonderful – I really couldn’t have asked for more. The writers spoilt me, they really did!”

Peggy Mitchell with her sons Grant, left, and Phil (BBC)

The Inside Soap Awards, held at the Hippodrome Casino in London, celebrate the best of the past year in soapland and are the only awards devoted to the genre that are voted for entirely by fans.

ITV’s Emmerdale and Coronation Street tied with four awards each, but it was the rural soap that clinched the coveted best soap gong, which it won for the second year running.

The win follows on from Emmerdale’s success at the British Soap Awards this year, where it triumphed in the best soap category for the first time in the history of the awards.

Emmerdale also took home best shock twist for the death of Val (Charlie Hardwick) in the summer fair’s hall of mirrors, best partnership for Ryan Hawley and Danny Miller (who play Robert Sugden and Aaron Dingle) and best young actor for Amelia Flanagan, who scored a hat-trick by picking up the trophy for her performance as April Windsor for the third time in a row.

Amelia Flanagan (Matt Crossick / PA)

Flanagan, eight, said: “It has been amazing to win three times in a row – I feel very lucky.”

There was plenty to celebrate over on the cobbles, where awards included best bad boy for Connor McIntyre for his portrayal of rogue Pat Phelan, and funniest male for Joe Duttine, who stars as Tim Metcalfe.

Former X Factor star Shayne Ward made it a trio of best newcomer prizes, having also nabbed the trophies at this year’s National Television Awards and TV Choice Awards.

Ward said the Inside Soap win was “the cherry on top” after a great year.

Coronation Street’s Shayne Ward (ITV)

He added: “I’ve been blessed to have such great storylines in the first year that I’ve been here. This just rounds it off.”

Inside Soap editor Steven Murphy said: “It’s been a dramatic year in soapland with some standout plots and amazing performances, so the competition was tougher than ever.”