Sheridan Smith, Toby Jones, Neil MacGregor, Jane Garvey and Lenny Henry take top prizes at Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

‘Biopic’ dramas, based on the lives of real people, have picked up more top prizes at the 41st Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, voted for by journalists who write about TV and radio.

Hard on the heels of Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar and BAFTA success for his portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking, Sheridan Smith has won the BPG’s best actress award for her performance as the young Cilla Black in the ITV drama Cilla.

And Toby Jones has been named best actor for his role as Neil Baldwin, the relentlessly upbeat kit-man at Stoke City Football Club, whose life was dramatised in Marvellous on BBC Two. Marvellous won the award for best single drama and BBC Two also won the award for best drama series, with The Honourable Woman.

Smith and Jones are attending the awards ceremony this lunchtime, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, together with the two writers, Jeff Pope (Cilla) and Peter Bowker (Marvellous). The BPG awards lunch is attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives and is sponsored by the Discovery Channel – (See full list of winners below).

Forty years after his TV debut in New Faces, Lenny Henry receives the BPG’s highest honour, the Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting. It recognises his contribution to Comic Relief, which began 30 years ago, and also his campaign for greater diversity in broadcasting, which is finally starting to change policies at the UK’s major broadcasters. Henry is breaking off from rehearsals for tonight’s Red Nose Day telethon to attend the ceremony.

The award for best radio programme has gone to BBC Radio 4 for Germany: Memories of a Nation, presented by Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. Jane Garvey, the presenter of Woman’s Hour, also on Radio 4, is named radio broadcaster of the year.

Channel 4 has taken two awards for factual television. Benefits Street – which attracted front-page headlines and fostered debate and controversy – won the award for best documentary series and Gogglebox won the BPG award for best factual entertainment, for the second year. The award for best single documentary went to Baby P: The Untold Story on BBC One.

W1A, BBC Two’s spoof documentary about the BBC and its management, was named best comedy. Crackanory, the star-studded storytelling series for adults on UK TV’s Dave, won the multichannel award.

Writers were well represented at this year’s awards. Sally Wainwright was a runaway winner of the BPG writer’s award for Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, both on BBC One. And the BPG Breakthrough Award went to the brothers Harry and Jack Williams, who wrote another hit BBC One drama series, The Missing.

The final award, for Innovation in Broadcasting, went to Vice News, the online start-up which was set up in London only a year ago as part of Vice Media, and which has produced ground-breaking reports on the world’s trouble zones for young audiences.


More information from: Torin Douglas, BPG

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The 41st Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards


Best Factual Entertainment


(Studio Lambert for Channel 4)


Best Single Drama


(Fifty Fathoms/Tiger Aspect for BBC Two)


Best Drama Series

The Honourable Woman

(Drama Republic and Eight Rooks for BBC Two)


Best Single Documentary

Baby P: The Untold Story

(Sandpaper Films for BBC One)


Best Documentary Series

Benefits Street

(Love Productions for Channel 4)


Best Multichannel Programme


(Tiger Aspect for UKTV Dave)


Radio Programme of the Year

Germany: Memories of A Nation

(BBC Radio Production in partnership with the British Museum for BBC Radio 4)


Radio Broadcaster of the Year

Jane Garvey – Woman’s Hour

(BBC Radio & Music Production for BBC Radio 4)


Best Entertainment/Comedy


(BBC Two)


Writer’s Award

Sally Wainwright

(Last Tango In Halifax and Happy Valley for BBC One)


Best Actress

Sheridan Smith

(Cilla Black in Cilla & Claire Webster in The Widower)


Best Actor

Toby Jones

(Neil Baldwin in Marvellous & Lance in Detectorists)


Breakthrough Award

Harry and Jack Williams, writers of The Missing

(New Pictures, Company Pictures and Two Brothers Pictures for BBC One)


Innovation in Broadcasting Award

Vice News for The Islamic State and other original commissions


Harvey Lee Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting

Lenny Henry