ACCLAIMED director David Thacker has spoken of his surprise after receiving a Special Achievement award at the Manchester Theatre Awards.

The Octagon Theatre took centre stage at the award ceremony where it received a haul of accolades from Awards chairman Kevin Bourke.

Mr Thacker, who is now Associate Artistic Director at Octagon Theatre, said: " I started to leave the stage as I'd been instructed to do so like all the winners when I was pulled back and told to wait for a minute.

"What's going on now I thought. Kevin announced that there was going to be a further award but I was confused even more when he said that he got a long speech that he wasn't going to bother to read it.

"He then turned to me and presented me with the Special Achievement Award.

"He didn't even say what it was for so I had to assume that it was for my work at the Octagon since I joined as artistic director in 2009.

"I was so surprised and bewildered that I blurted out something by way of an acceptance speech. I've no idea what I said but I hope it sounded reasonably intelligent and sincere. I'm sure it would've been — but I've no idea whether it was intelligent or even intelligible!"

The haul of accolades achieved by the Octagon is described as an unprecedented achievement in the history of the Manchester Theatre Awards, with six awards to be given to productions directed by one director.

The ceremony took place at Manchester’s newest arts venue HOME, and the theatre picked up Best Production for An Enemy of the People and the five major acting awards, including Best Ensemble for Noises Off

Mr Thacker, who is Professor of Theatre at the University of Bolton, added: "'I try not to take too much notice of awards or reviews because there are bound to be many other actors and directors whose work is equally worthy of recognition.

"In this case for example, although Colin Connor's performance in A View from the Bridge was exceptional, so was Rob Edward's performance (which was also nominated) in An Enemy of the People. I certainly wouldn't have been able to choose between them and I'm thrilled for Colin and disappointed for Rob in equal measure. So, as Rudyard Kipling famously wrote, 'triumph and disaster' are two imposters.

"Nevertheless I can't pretend not to be thrilled with the awards that we've all received at the Octagon. Friday was a very exciting and surprisingly thrilling experience."

Mr Thacker said: "But more than the awards themselves I was made extremely happy and was thoroughly moved and touched by the love admiration and respect that was repeatedly thrown in my direction in the acceptance speeches of all the other Octagon award winners.

"The tributes to me were so warm generous and appreciative that that in itself was worth 100 awards and I will never be able to thank them enough for being so generous and kind about me in public, when really the attention should have been entirely on them in recognition of the fantastic achievement of securing these coveted awards."

Best Actor: Colin Connor in A View from the Bridge

Best Actress: Barbara Drennan in A View from the Bridge

Best Supporting Actor: David Birrell in An Enemy of the People

Best Supporting Actress: Natasha Davidson in An Enemy of the People

Best Ensemble: Noises Off

Best Production: An Enemy of the People.

The Special Achievement Award: David Thacker