This Morning presenter Willoughby wore a sleeveless lavender gown for the awards on Tuesday evening, while her ITV colleague Alison Hammond dazzled in a black dress and cape.
The ITV daytime show was seeking to defend its best daytime show title amid the furore over the Phillip Schofield scandal.
Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV in May after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague on the show.
Schofield and Willoughby had been long-listed for the best TV presenter prize, alongside fellow This Morning hosts Hammond, Dermot O’Leary, Rylan Clark and Martin Lewis, but only Hammond and Lewis made the shortlist.
The late Paul O’Grady, who died earlier in the year, was recognised posthumously at the awards and so was Dame Deborah James, who died of bowel cancer in 2022.
Dame Deborah was named in the authored documentary category, for Bowelbabe In Her Own Words whilst O’Grady has been nominated in the factual entertainment category for his show For The Love Of Dogs.
Sir Lenny Henry on the red carpet said that “there’s a lot of change happening” in the TV industry with regards to diversity, but said that “the fight... is something that’s ongoing”.
Speaking to the PA news agency on the red carpet at the National Television Awards, Sir Lenny, 65, said: “Things are changing.
“We’re seeing more people of colour wielding clipboards and telling people what to do.
“I see more people with disabilities doing stuff, I see more people with tattoos.
“I think there’s a lot of change happening, just in the last five years but, don’t let anybody be thinking that it’s over. Because the fight and, it is a fight, is something that’s ongoing.”
Piers Morgan has said that people would “rather shoot themselves” than give him an award.
Morgan, 58, has been nominated in the TV interviews category at the NTAs for Piers Morgan Uncensored on Talk TV and spoke to the PA news agency on the red carpet ahead of the awards ceremony.
He said: “They’d all rather shoot themselves then give me an award but, but if it’s just on interviews, hard to say that anyone else has had bigger ones that we’ve had in the last year.”
Speaking about how he might fair in his category, he added: “I don’t have any competition.”
Joel Dommett kicked off the awards ceremony by telling the audience: “My wife is actually nine months pregnant, she is due basically now.”
He joked that if his partner, Hannah Cooper, goes into labour, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are on stand by to take her to the hospital.
Gogglebox took home the first award of the night, The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award.
The reality TV series beat The Masked Singer and Donnelly and McPartlin who were nominated for two of their shows, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Saturday Night Takeaway.