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Archives for January 2012

Reflecting on the BBC Audio Drama Awards

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Alison Hindell | 13:30 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

Richard Burton and Douglas Cleverdon

The 1963 production of Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton with Producer Douglas Cleverdon

The BBC will be 90 years old this November and that feels like a good moment to be celebrating one of the longest-lived programming genres with the first ever BBC Audio Drama Awards.

In the UK, drama has been on-air since the earliest days of BBC radio (from February 1923), initially with extracts from plays by Shakespeare, then plays for children and the first original play written specially for this new medium was Danger by Richard Hughes in 1924. Set in a coalmine after a cave-in, the characters had to communicate in the dark without sight of each other, a situation, it was felt, that reflected the particularity of this new medium - the dark, that is, not the disaster.

The presence of drama programming quickly caught listeners' attention and comments: as early as the late 1920s came letters complaining that the sound effects or the background music were too loud - and that is still the case 80 years on!

By the time World War II broke out, drama and comedy were felt to be such necessary contributions to British morale that a group of actors was contracted to 'play as cast' and evacuated for a short time, with other BBC staff, to Evesham in the first months of the war.

This repertory company soon returned to London and became established as the Radio Drama Company (RDC), remaining a constant part of BBC audio drama productions ever since. Hundreds of actors have passed though its ranks including Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emma Fielding, Alex Jennings, as well as Bertie Carvel and Nina Wadia, two of the award-givers at the ceremony on Sunday.

The RDC company members have also been complemented by many, many freelance actors and most showbiz names from the past 80 years have graced the microphones including, just in the last year, Kenneth Branagh, David Warner, Dawn French, Greta Scacchi, Juliet Stevenson, Jeremy Irons, Janet Suzman, Ian McKellen and, of course, David Tennant - to name but a few.

The other pillar of the history of audio drama is, of course, the writers.

Vital in launching many careers and nurturing and developing new writers all the time, it's worth mentioning a few names from the honours boards such as Dylan Thomas (Under Milk Wood is probably the world's most famous radio play), Tom Stoppard, Anthony Minghella, Bryony Lavery, Sue Townsend, Lee Hall, Harold Pinter, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Samuel Beckett, Christopher Hampton, Kwame Kwei-Armah and David Hare.

More recently, Lenny Henry has had his first play commissioned by and broadcast on Radio 4 and Mike Bartlett, now a prolific stage writer, cut several teeth in radio. He's written a blog on these awards, too, on the Society of Authors site.

No survey of the history of audio drama would be complete without a mention of the longest-lasting soap opera in the world, The Archers. Beginning in 1951 as 'an everyday story of country folk' with the aim of delivering agricultural advice and tips to Britain's farmers, it remains firmly at the centre of many listeners' hearts and is heard by 5 million people every week.

Of course, audio drama is not the sole preserve of the BBC. Internationally, there is still a significant presence of the medium on European and other Anglophone public broadcasting organisations, as well as some commercial production (largely non-broadcast these days).

And it's particularly interesting to see, over the last few years, a burgeoning online presence for the form. Often, but not always, short-form, it's fantastic that the power of storytelling through dialogue and sound alone is continuing to fascinate new makers as well as listeners.

So these Audio Drama Awards (hosted and organised by the BBC but not exclusive to BBC broadcasts) are designed to celebrate the talent, effort and achievement of all those individuals who contribute to this very particular and specialised form.

It's been heartening, as we have pulled the event together, how many people on hearing about the plans have responded that it's about time too. For such a prolific genre with such significantly-sized audiences it gets surprisingly little attention and we thought it was time to shout about it.

Alison Hindell is Head of Audio Drama

The winners of the first BBC Audio Drama Awards

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Paul Murphy Paul Murphy | 20:05 UK time, Sunday, 29 January 2012

Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott receives the Best Supporting Actor Award from June Whitfield

The winners of the first BBC Audio Drama Awards were announced by actor David Tennant at a special event in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House.

The awards are a celebration of audio drama, on air and online, and are about giving recognition to the actors, writers, producers, sound designers, and others who work in the genre.

The winners of the BBC Audio Drama Awards are:

Best Audio Drama:
Lost Property - The Year My Mother Went Missing by Katie Hims
Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Actor in an Audio Drama:
David Tennant, Kafka: The Musical by Murray Gold
Producer: Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3

Best Actress in an Audio Drama:
Rosie Cavaliero, Lost Property: A Telegram From The Queen by Katie Hims
Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Supporting Actor/Actress in an Audio Drama:
Andrew Scott, Referee by Nick Perry
Producer: Sasha Yevtushenko, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Scripted Comedy Drama:
Floating by Hugh Hughes
Producer: James Robinson, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Online Only Audio Drama:
Rock by Tim Fountain
Producer: Iain Mackness, Made in Manchester for The Independent Online

Best Adaptation:
The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley
Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Use of Sound in an Audio Drama:
Bad Memories by Julian Simpson
Producer: Karen Rose, Sweet Talk Productions for Radio 4

Innovation Award:
The Unfortunates adapted by Graham White
Producer: Mary Peate, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3

The winner of the Imison Award for Best Radio Drama Script broadcast in 2010 by a new writer is:
Amazing Grace by Michelle Lipton

The winner of the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Drama Script broadcast in 2010 is:
Gerontius by Stephen Wyatt

You'll be able to hear some of the BBC shortlisted audio dramas again on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra between Monday 30 January and Friday 10 February. Details to follow.

Paul Murphy is the editor of the Radio blog

BBC Audio Drama Awards: Shortlist

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Paul Murphy Paul Murphy | 12:00 UK time, Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ed's note: The Drama Awards shortlist is announced today. Here's the press release with the details. You can read about the launch of the Awards here - PM.

Logo

Today, the shortlist for the first ever BBC Audio Drama Awards is announced. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the cultural importance of audio drama, on air and online, and to give recognition to the actors, writers, producers, sound designers, and others who work in the genre.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on Sunday 29 January 2012 in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House in central London and presented by actor David Tennant. In conjunction with the Society of Authors and The Writers' Guild of Great Britain, The Imison and Tinniswood Awards will also be announced and presented by playwright and Guild President, David Edgar.

The BBC Audio Drama Awards shortlist for each category is:

Best Audio Drama
(Judges: Lord Hall, Razia Iqbal, Sarah Sands)

  • A Shoebox Of Snow by Julie Mayhew
    Producer: Justine Potter, Red Production Company for Radio 4
  • Lost Property - The Year My Mother Went Missing by Katie Hims
    Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
  • The First Domino by Jonathan Cash
    Producer: Frank Stirling, Unique Broadcasting Company for Radio 3

Best Actor in an Audio Drama:
(Judges: Ian Brown, Lisa Campbell, Dame Harriet Walter CBE)

  • Damian Lewis, Giovanni's Room dramatised by Neil Bartlett
    Producer: Turan Ali, Bona Broadcasting for Radio 3
  • David Tennant, Kafka: The Musical by Murray Gold
    Producer: Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3
  • Rory Kinnear, Flare Path by Terence Rattigan
    Producer: Jeremy Herrin, Catherine Bailey Productions Ltd for Radio 3
  • *Special Commendation* Tom Riley, Henry's Demons by Patrick and Henry Cockburn
    Producer: Karen Rose, Sweet Talk Productions for Radio 4

Best Actress in an Audio Drama:
(Judges: Michael Billington, Kate Harwood, Robin Lustig)

  • Candis Nergaard, Atching Tan by Dan Allum
    Producer: Charlotte Riches, BBC Audio Drama North for Radio 4
  • June Whitfield, A Montrous Vitality by Andy Merriman
    Producer: David Hunter, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
  • Rosie Cavaliero, Lost Property: A Telegram From The Queen by Katie Hims
    Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Supporting Actor/Actress in an Audio Drama:
(Judges: Daniel Evans, Gillian Reynolds, Imogen Stubbs)

  • Andrew Scott, Referee by Nick Perry
    Producer: Sasha Yevtushenko, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
  • Carl Prekopp, The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley
    Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
  • Rupert Penry-Jones, Flare Path by Terence Rattigan
    Producer: Jeremy Herrin, Catherine Bailey Productions Ltd for Radio 3

Best Scripted Comedy Drama:c (Judges: Andrew Davies, Christopher William Hill, Miranda Sawyer)

  • Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore
    Producer: David Tyler, Pozzitive for Radio 4
  • Ed Reardon's Week by Christopher Douglas and Andrew Nickolds
    Producer: Dawn Ellis, BBC Radio Comedy for Radio 4
  • Floating by Hugh Hughes
    Producer: James Robinson, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Online Only Audio Drama:
(Judges: Nicolas Kent, Julie Myerson, Jane Thynne)

  • Rock by Tim Fountain
    Producer: Iain Mackness, Made in Manchester for The Independent Online
  • Wild Hackney
    Producer: Francesca Panetta and Russell Finch for Hackney Podcast

Best Adaptation:
(Judges: Viv Gardner, Maxine Peak, Fiammetta Rocco)

  • Alone In Berlin dramatised by Shelagh Stephenson
    Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan, BBC Northern Ireland for Radio 4
  • Five Days In May by Matthew Solon
    Producer: John Dryden, Goldhawk Productions for Radio 4
  • The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley
    Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Best Use of Sound in an Audio Drama:
(Judges: Kevin Brew, John Hardy, Elisabeth Mahoney)

  • Bad Memories by Julian Simpson
    Producer: Karen Rose, Sweet Talk Productions for Radio 4
  • Can You Hear Me? by Margaret Wilkinson
    Producer: Nadia Molinari, BBC Audio Drama North for Radio 4
  • The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley
    Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Innovation Award:
(Judges: Susannah Clapp, Rupert Goold, Stephen Wright)

  • Blue Eyed Boy by Helen Cross
    Producer: Mary Ward-Lowery, BBC Bristol for Radio 4
  • The Unfortunates adapted by Graham White
    Producer: Mary Peate, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3
  • Wild Hackney
    Producer: Francesca Panetta for Hackney Podcast

The shortlist for the Imison Award for Best Radio Drama Script broadcast in 2010 by a new writer is:

  • Atching Tan by Dan Allum
  • The Pursuit by Matt Hartley
  • The Barber and the Ark by Marcia Layne
  • Amazing Grace by Michelle Lipton

(Society of Author's Broadcasting Committee: Alison Joseph, Mike Bartlett, Lucy Caldwell, Nazrin Choudhury, Christopher William Hill, Karen Liebreich, Sue Limb, Karl Sabbagh, Colin Teevan and John Taylor)

The Tinniswood Award shortlist for Best Radio Drama Script broadcast in 2010 is:

  • The Climb by Andrea Earl
  • Sarah and Ken by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
  • Setting a Glass by Nick Warburton
  • Gerontius by Stephen Wyatt

(Judges: Robert Bathurst, Paul Donovan, Nell Leyshon)

The panel of judges taken from within and outside the BBC are:
Michael Billington, Theatre Critic, The Guardian
Kevin Brew, Producer, RTE
Ian Brown, Artistic Director, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Lisa Campbell, Editor, Broadcast
Susannah Clapp, Theatre Critic, The Observer
Andrew Davies, British Author and Screenwriter
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director, Sheffield Crucible
Viv Gardner, Professor of Theatre Studies, Manchester
Rupert Goold, Artistic Director, Headlong Theatre and Associate Director, RSC
Lord Hall of Birkenhead, Chief Executive, Royal Opera House
John Hardy, Composer
Kate Harwood, Controller, Series and Serials TV Drama
Christopher William Hill, Radio Dramatist and Playwright
Razia Iqbal, Journalist, BBC News
Nicolas Kent, Artistic Director, Tricycle Theatre
Robin Lustig, Journalist, BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4
Elisabeth Mahoney, Radio Critic, The Guardian
Julie Myerson, Author and Critic
Maxine Peake, Actress
Gillian Reynolds, Radio Critic, The Daily Telegraph
Fiammetta Rocco, Editor of Books and Arts, The Economist
Miranda Sawyer, Radio Critic, The Observer
Sarah Sands, Deputy Editor, Evening Standard
Imogen Stubbs, Actress and Playwright
Jane Thynne, Radio Critic, The Independent
Dame Harriet Walter CBE
Stephen Wright, Head of Drama, BBC Northern Ireland

Getting the BBC Sound of 2012 on the Red Button

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Tom Bedwell Tom Bedwell | 14:48 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

It's all very well making predictions for the most successful artists of 2012 in January, but with the Christmas break this was never going to be the easiest of tasks.

On the up side; interviewing up-and-coming artists about their careers so far, enjoying the passion, the energy and the excitement that they had made it into the annual list (without letting on where they'd come).

As Michael Kiwanuka exclaimed "Just to be given the nod and for people to want to listen to what you ramble on about in your room with your guitar is amazing". Managing to source video of a two-year-old Skrillex playing harmonica and some photos of Azealia Banks from her early days in youth theatre were also a definite highlight.

The only down side; days and days in a darkened room cutting down wise words and electrifying performances to just five or so minutes each.

Watch interviews and music from Michael Kiwanuka, Frank Ocean, Azealia Banks, Skrillex and Niki & The Dove and take inspiration that you can do the same.

Watch the film on the BBC Red Button until Thursday 12 January.

Tom Bedwell worked on the BBC Sound of 2012 Red Button programme

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