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Miliband, Attenborough, Mantel, Leith among winners at 44th Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

March 16, 2018

Claire Foy, Jed Mercurio, Mark Bonnar and Emma Barnett win individual awards

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has been recognised in a new role at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, voted for by journalists who write about TV and radio. His podcast with Geoff Lloyd, Reasons to be Cheerful, has been named as the BPG Podcast of the Year, a new award marking the growing influence of the latest audio formats.

A headline-grabbing interview with the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during last year’s election campaign helped Emma Barnett win the prize for BPG Radio Broadcaster of the Year. Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Mr Corbyn forgot details of a major policy announcement.

And in a year when women featured strongly in the BPG awards, Dame Hilary Mantel’s series of BBC Reith Lectures became Radio Programme of the Year.

This year’s BPG television winners also included Sir David Attenborough, Claire Foy, Prue Leith, Mark Bonnar, Steve Coogan, Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Chris Packham and Jed Mercurio.

The 44th BPG awards lunch, sponsored by Virgin TV, is taking place today at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. (Full list of winners below). The BPG Awards – given only for work commissioned in the UK – are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers.

Caroline Frost, BPG Chair, said: “These Awards are unique because they are the only ones voted for by people whose job it is to write about TV and radio for a living. After 44 years, our Guild continues to evolve in line with the ever-changing broadcasting landscape and this year we’ll be recognising for the first time our Podcast of the Year. In choosing our winners, we argue fiercely about what’s popular and what’s ambitious, what’s progressive and what’s truly original and we’ve honoured these requirements in our list of very worthy winners.

“It’s been an extraordinary year in entertainment, not just in the quality on-screen but in some of the controversies and scandals that have been uncovered away from it – and the British broadcasting industry has not gone un-marked. One thing we have to do today is give recognition to the BBC women, and all those who have put their heads above the parapet in pursuit of fair treatment, not just for themselves but for all women across the business.”

Claire Foy was named Best Actress for her role in the second series of The Crown (Netflix), which also won the award for Best Online First /Streaming production. It was revealed this week that she had been paid less for the series than her co-star Matt Smith.

Mark Bonnar was named Best Actor for a string of high-profile roles, including Unforgotten, Eric, Ernie and Me, Catastrophe and Apple Tree Yard. He can currently be seen in the latest series of Shetland on BBC One.

The edge-of-the-seat police series Line of Duty (BBC One) was named Best Drama Series, and its creator Jed Mercurio won the award for Best Writer. Three Girls, the three-part BBC One drama based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale, was named Best Single Drama/Mini series.

Blue Planet II (BBC One) was named Best Documentary Series and Chris Packham: Aspergers and Me (BBC Two) won the award for Best Single Documentary. Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham will both be attending the lunch to receive their awards.

The annual Harvey Lee Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting was given to the children’s television producers Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes, in special recognition of Blue Peter, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.  The citation says: “For creating the ‘new’ Blue Peter in the early 1960s alongside the late Rosemary Gill. The involvement of its audience was ground-breaking, giving every child the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the programme, to become involved in charity fund-raising and win a coveted Blue Peter badge. Blue Peter unleashed the power and potential of children’s television and 60 years on has created some of its most memorable moments.”

The BPG Award for Innovation went to Channel 4 for its latest advances in championing diversity both on and off screen. These include initiatives such as Spotlight on Directors and diversity throughout its commissioning – in programmes such as Ackley Bridge, The Last Leg and its 50 Shades of Gay season – and in its advertising. The citation says: “Channel 4 has built on its pioneering Paralympics coverage to embrace the wider community and has demonstrated a first-in-class commitment to its public service broadcasting remit”. The award will be accepted by Channel Four’s chief executive Alex Mahon.

Channel Four also won the award for Best Entertainment/Factual Entertainment category, with its first series of The Great British Bake Off, which it controversially lured from BBC One. Judge Prue Leith will attend the lunch to receive the award. Detectorists (BBC Four) was named Best Comedy and its writer-performer Mackenzie Crook will pick up the award with his co-star Toby Jones.

The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic), featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on the latest stage of their culinary travels, won the award for Best Multichannel (non-PSB) programme. Its writer-director, the renowned British film maker Michael Winterbottom, will receive the award. 

The BBC Reith Lectures 2017, given by the double Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, exploring the challenges and legitimacy of historical fiction, won the award for BPG Radio Programme of the Year. The award will be collected by Sue Lawley, who presents the series.

The other two audio awards, for Radio Broadcaster of the Year and Podcast of the Year, celebrated the discussion of politics, and will be received at the lunch by Emma Barnett, Ed Miliband and his co-presenter Geoff Lloyd.

Torin Douglas, chair of the radio jury, said: “Emma Barnett, our Radio Broadcaster of the Year, hit the headlines during and after the general election campaign, when she interviewed Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May and coaxed memorable reactions from both of them. The Labour leader’s inability to answer her questions on a major policy announcement was widely labelled a ‘car crash’ and the Prime Minister’s admission that ‘she shed a little tear’ after she heard the exit poll result was also picked up by every newspaper.”

“Ed Miliband, who with Geoff Lloyd won the BPG’s first Podcast of the Year award, has found a new role since stepping down as Labour leader. After standing in for Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, where he segued brilliantly from flushing toilets to the universal basic income, he now presents a ‘podcast about ideas’ which one of our judges said was like listening to the Today programme without the egos running rampant over the interviewees.”

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