Entertainment & Arts

Hurt and Whitfield win radio awards

Sir John Hurt and June Whitfield Image copyright PA/BBC
Image caption Sir John Hurt and June Whitfield have long careers in drama

Sir John Hurt and June Whitfield have been honoured with top awards at a ceremony celebrating audio drama.

Sir John won the outstanding contribution accolade at the BBC's Audio Drama awards in London on Sunday.

Among the work for which he was recognised was a Radio 4 adaptation of War and Peace and also the station's version of Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell.

Whitfield meanwhile won the lifetime achievement award for more than 70 years in radio drama and comedy.

The annual event, held in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House, recognises the cultural significance, range and originality of audio drama.

The awards include drama performed online, as well as on radio.

They also give credit to the creativity of the actors, writers, producers, sound designers and others who work within the field.

On receiving his award, Sir John, said: "I like working in radio drama because one is using what is fast becoming the actors' forgotten weapon - the voice."

'Absolutely delighted'

The 76-year-old is one of Britain's most venerated actors whose career in film, TV and in radio has spanned more than six decades.

Image caption Sir Lenny Henry: 'We should be proud of the range of excellence that the industry attracts'

Outside radio, his best-known roles include his Oscar-nominated performances in The Elephant Man and The Midnight Express and as Quentin Crisp in the 1975 ITV drama The Naked Civil Servant.

June Whitfield was being recognised at the BBC awards for an entire radio career that began in the 1940s.

The actress, who has now become best-known for the TV comedies Terry and June and Absolutely Fabulous, first found fame on radio in the BBC comedy Take It From Here.

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted to have received this lifetime achievement award.

"It really does feel like a lifetime - I first worked for BBC radio in the 1940s. Thank you so much BBC for this much-appreciated award."

'Range of excellence'

Others to be honoured included Alfred Molina, who was named best actor for his performance in Radio 3's A View from the Bridge, while Monica Dolan won the best actress prize for her part in Radio 4's Vincent in Brixton.

In the best supporting actor/actress category, Susan Wokoma won for Radio 4's Three Strong Women.

Karen Bartke won the best debut performance award for her role in My Name Is… on Radio 4.

Playwright Charlene James also took home the award for best original single drama for the Radio 4 version of her play Cutting It.

The play also previously won the George Devine playwriting prize in 2015 and the Alfred Fagon award in 2014.

Actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry, who hosted the event, said: "I'm honoured to have once again presented the BBC Audio Drama Awards, which showcase outstanding work by a diverse group of talented writers and creators.

"We should be proud of the range of excellence that the industry attracts, and produces, and it's great that this year's awards include both classic plays and innovative dramas reflecting modern Britain.

"Long may it continue."

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