Glenda Jackson has been named best actress at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, for her first screen appearance in 27 years. The award, voted for by journalists who write about television and radio, was for her role as Maud, a dementia sufferer, in BBC One’s adaptation of Emma Healey’s best-selling novel, Elizabeth Is Missing.
Now aged 83, the double-Oscar winner last appeared on screen in 1992. She returned to acting in 2015, after 23 years in Parliament as a Labour MP.
The 46th BPG Awards lunch, sponsored by Virgin Media, took place today at Banking Hall in the City of London, attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. (Full list of winners below). The BPG Awards – given for work commissioned or premiered in the UK and screened in 2019 – are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers.
The distinguished film and television director Michael Apted was awarded the BPG Jury Prize, for the Up Series which began in 1964 as Seven Up – a profile of 14 seven-year-old children for the current affairs series World In Action. As a young researcher, Apted was involved in selecting the children and over the past 56 years the series has become an institution, revisiting the subjects every seven years, with Apted directing every series from 2 to 9.
The BPG award for best actor went to Stephen Graham, for his performances in three dramas, Line of Duty, Series 5 (BBC One), A Christmas Carol (BBC One) and The Virtues (Channel 4).
The Virtues just pipped Elizabeth Is Missing to win the BPG award for best single drama or mini-series. Chernobyl (Sky Atlantic) was named best drama series – and its screenwriter, Craig Mazin, won the award for best writer, just beating Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Series 2).
But Fleabag (BBC Three and Amazon Prime Video) ran away with the award for best comedy, with three times as many votes as the runner-up. The Graham Norton Show (BBC One) was named best entertainment show.
Jake Kanter, BPG Chair, said: “I’m proud to say that, for the second year in a row, a record number of votes were cast for the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, which is testament to the enduring qualities of the BPG and the continued vibrancy of British television. Congratulations to all the winners.”
Channel Four News and ITN won the BPG award for best single documentary with For Sama (Channel Four and PBS Frontline), a film by Waad Al-Kateab, reporting on her own experiences during the Syrian civil war, as the wife of one of the few doctors left in Aleppo, giving birth to their daughter Sama. The award for best documentary series went to Thatcher: A Very British Revolution (BBC Two)
Samira Ahmed was named Audio Broadcaster of the Year, for presenting Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and the podcast How I Found My Voice. The award for Radio Programme of the Year went to Hooked: The Unexpected Addicts (BBC Radio 5 Live), presented by Melissa Rice and Jade Wye who provide invaluable insights and observations into the realities of being an addict.
The Podcast of the Year award went to Have You Heard George’s Podcast (BBC Sounds) presented by George The Poet, aka George Mpanga. Julian Clover, chair of the BPG radio jury, said: “The host of our winning podcast talks politics, poetry and lived experiences and is described as a stunning new voice on the podcast scene. The programme on the Grenfell Tower fire was particularly affecting and effective.”
Among the special awards made by the BPG executive committee, Moira Stuart received the Harvey Lee Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting. As previously announced, the award recognises her five decades of outstanding broadcasting, including news presentation on BBC radio and television, documentaries, entertainment shows and her current news and music programmes on Classic FM.
And actor Ncuti Gatwa won the Breakthrough Award for his performance in Sex Education (Netflix).
The full list of BPG TV and Radio Awards winners is:
Best Single Drama/Mini-series
Warp Films for Channel 4
Best Drama Series
A Sister, Mighty Mint and Word Games production in association with HBO for Sky Atlantic
Best Single Documentary
A Channel 4 News & ITN Productions Feature Documentary for Channel 4 and PBS Frontline
Best Documentary Series
Thatcher: A Very British Revolution
BBC Studios for BBC Two
The Graham Norton Show
So Television for BBC One
Fleabag, Series 2
Two Brothers Pictures Ltd for BBC Three and Amazon Prime Video
Audio Broadcaster of the Year
Front Row, BBC Radio 4, and How I Found My Voice, an Intelligence Squared/Acast podcast
Radio Programme of the Year
Hooked: The Unexpected Addicts
A BBC Radio 5 Live production
Podcast of the Year
Have You Heard George’s Podcast?
George the Poet for BBC Sounds
Stephen Graham for The Virtues (Channel 4), Line of Duty, Series 5 (BBC One) and A Christmas Carol (BBC One)
Glenda Jackson for Elizabeth Is Missing (BBC One)
Craig Mazin for Chernobyl (Sky Atlantic)
Ncuti Gatwa for Sex Education (Netflix)
BPG Jury Prize
Michael Apted for the Up Series
A Granada TV / MultiStory Media production for ITV
Harvey Lee Award
Moira Stuart OBE
Pioneering and much-loved newsreader and presenter, for five decades of outstanding broadcasting