Spy thriller “Homeland” won best TV drama at the Emmy awards Sunday, ending retro cult show “Mad Men” four-year unbroken run, while “Modern Family” was named best comedy for the third straight year.

Election campaign film “Game Change,” about John McCain’s Republican running mate Sarah Palin’s implosion in the doomed 2008 White House race, meanwhile won best mini-series or movie at US television’s annual awards show.

“Homeland,” about a CIA agent probing a US Marine who went missing in Iraq and is suspected of planning a terrorist attack, is only in its first season but has earned rave reviews and nine Emmy nominations for pay channel Showtime.

As well as the 64th Annual Primetime Emmys’ top prize for best drama, the show also son best drama writing and best drama actor and actress for Briton Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.

“I’m one of those pesky Brits,” Lewis said as he accepted his prize at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, referring to the success in recent years of British shows including hit period drama Downtown Abbey.

“I don’t really believe in judging art, but I thought I’d show up just in case. Turned out all right,” he said – adding that his children thought he had been nominated for an “Emma.”

“Well, daddy just won an Emma,” he joked.

“Mad Men,” about life and love in a 1960s New York advertising agency, has won best drama every year since its 2007 premier, and was hoping to break the Emmys record with a fifth win this year.

But the show, which was nominated in 17 categories, went home empty-handed

On the lighter side, mockumentary-style “Modern Family” won its third straight Best Comedy series Emmy with a cast of gay, step-sibling and generally non-orthodox nuclear family characters.

It also collected supporting-acting prizes for Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen and a best-directing Emmy for series co-creator Steven Levitan.

Edgy British comic Ricky Gervais, known for his near-the-nuckle jokes as Golden Globes host, was relatively restrained in his turn presenting a relatively minor award.

“So much better than the Golden Globes,” he said, joking that organizers had chosen to give him the “big one” category of directing on a variety special, won by Glenn Weiss for Broadway’s 65th annual Tony Awards. and

Daily Show comedy news frontman Jon Stewart, accepting the best variety show award, was among the few to test the live broadcast 5-second delay for bad language, after pretend-fighting with rivals Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon.

Best comedy supporting actress went to Julie Bowen also of “Modern Family,” while Louis C.K. won best comedy writer for his series “Louis,” as well as best writer for his live show.

Veteran actress Kathy Bates – who only this month revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy – won best guess actress in a comedy series for her appearance on hit show “Two and a Half Men.”

Actor Michael J Fox, who semi-retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease but announced last month that he will star in a new TV show, won a standing ovation when he presented “Modern Family” with the best comedy prize.

Julianne Moore, who won best TV movie actress for HBO’s “Game Change,” thanked Palin, who she played. “I feel so validated, because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down,” she said.