Winner of Rachael Bland New Podcast Award to explore life in recovery

We launched the award in memory of Rachael, to discover exciting new voices in broadcasting - and that is exactly what we’ve done.Jonathan Wall, Controller, 5 Live
Date: 18.05.2019     Last updated: 18.05.2019 at 21.00
The winner of the BBC’s Rachael Bland New Podcast Award is to explore life in recovery.

The new series, made by BBC Radio 5 Live and available on BBC Sounds, takes a warts-and-all look at the reality of addiction and mental health through the eyes of three women in recovery - Melissa, Jade and Selvi.

They want to debunk the stereotype of addicts and show how ‘everyday people’ like them - a teacher, a mental health nurse and an art dealer - can develop addiction problems.

In the podcast, Melissa, Jade and Selvi share searingly honest and often hilarious accounts of their experiences. They celebrate visible recovery, bust outdated myths and laugh at the wonders and blunders encountered on the journey from addiction to recovery.

Melissa, Jade and Selvi were announced as the winners of the Rachael Bland New Podcast Award by Steve Bland at the British Podcast Awards on Saturday 18 May.

The Rachael Bland New Podcast Award was launched in January in honour of the BBC Radio 5 Live newsreader and presenter who died in September 2018 from breast cancer. Rachael was the creator of You, Me And The Big C, the award-winning podcast she presented with Lauren Mahon and Deborah James, which won praise for tackling the subject of cancer in an original and unsentimental way.

The award was looking for the next new, passionate and distinctive voices in podcasting and received more than 600 entries. The judging panel included 5 Live controller Jonathan Wall and managing editor Heidi Dawson, producer of You, Me And The Big C, Mike Holt, Rachael’s husband Steve Bland, Rachael’s colleague and close friend Uma Doraiswamy, and BBC Radio editor Dixi Stewart.

On winning the award, Melissa Rice says: “I’m so overwhelmed. The fact that someone is allowing addiction to be talked about in such a way… I can’t believe it. I’m so honoured. Thank you so much.”

Steve Bland says: “From an early point during the judging this entry leapt off the page for us, and when we heard the audio we knew they were our winners. The personalities of these three women are just fantastic and they totally embody everything Rachael would have wanted out of this competition. We’re really excited about this podcast and I’m really looking forward to working with Melissa, Jade and Selvi.”

Jonathan Wall, controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, comments: “We launched the award in memory of Rachael to discover exciting new voices in broadcasting, and that is exactly what we’ve done. 5 Live podcasts are distinctive in their storytelling, they’re funny and they’re honest. What we’ve found here is all of those things, and more. It is going to be a great addition to our already very strong line-up of podcasts.”

The podcast will launch in September 2019 and will be produced by Steve Bland and Uma Doraiswamy for BBC Radio 5 Live. It will be available to download on BBC Sounds.

Pictured: Award winners Jade, Melissa, Selvi and Steve Bland