The British director/writer was presented with the prestigious prize at the ceremony in New York by Downton star Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora Crawley in the hit show, and producer Gareth Neame.

MCGovern praised Fellowes in her introduction, saying she enjoyed "the privilege of playing a character created by Julian Fellowes" during her time in the drama, which concludes on Christmas Day (25Dec15).

Accepting the award, Fellowes said, "I was a very late starter, convinced nothing ever would happen... What changed things for me was luck and happenstance... I dedicate (this) to all those men and women who have never been given the chance to show what they can do. I salute them."

He also thanked Andrew Lloyd Webber for composing the music to School of Rock, their Broadway adaptation of the 2003 Jack Black movie. Fellowes wrote the script for the show, which opens on 6 December (15).

France's TV industry was the big winner of the International Emmys, scooping home three awards including best drama series for TV crime thriller Engrenages (Spiral), best arts programming for The Man Who Saved the Louvre, and best TV movie/mini-series for Soldat Blanc (White Soldier).

Irish documentary 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy won the best non-scripted entertainment prize, while Dutch actor Maarten Heijmans won the top acting prize for Ramses, and Norwegian star Anneke von der Lippe won the actress equivalent for Eyewitness.

Michael Douglas also made an appearance to present the International Emmy Directorate Award to Richard Plepler, the chairman and chief executive of network HBO.