Ed Miliband, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Hilary Mantel and Prue Leith among winners at the 44th Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has been recognised in a new role at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, voted for by journalists who write about TV and radio. His podcast with Geoff Lloyd, Reasons to be Cheerful, has been named as the BPG Podcast of the Year, a new award marking the growing influence of the latest audio formats.

A headline-grabbing interview with the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during last year’s election campaign helped Emma Barnett win the prize for BPG Radio Broadcaster of the Year. Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Mr Corbyn forgot details of a major policy announcement.

And in a year when women featured strongly in the BPG awards, Dame Hilary Mantel’s series of BBC Reith Lectures became Radio Programme of the Year.

This year’s BPG television winners also included Sir David Attenborough, Claire Foy, Prue Leith, Mark Bonnar, Steve Coogan, Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Chris Packham and Jed Mercurio.

The 44th BPG awards lunch, sponsored by Virgin TV, is taking place today at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. (Full list of winners below). The BPG Awards – given only for work commissioned in the UK – are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers.

Caroline Frost, BPG Chair, said: “These Awards are unique because they are the only ones voted for by people whose job it is to write about TV and radio for a living. After 44 years, our Guild continues to evolve in line with the ever-changing broadcasting landscape and this year we’ll be recognising for the first time our Podcast of the Year. In choosing our winners, we argue fiercely about what’s popular and what’s ambitious, what’s progressive and what’s truly original and we’ve honoured these requirements in our list of very worthy winners.

“It’s been an extraordinary year in entertainment, not just in the quality on-screen but in some of the controversies and scandals that have been uncovered away from it – and the British broadcasting industry has not gone un-marked. One thing we have to do today is give recognition to the BBC women, and all those who have put their heads above the parapet in pursuit of fair treatment, not just for themselves but for all women across the business.”

Claire Foy was named Best Actress for her role in the second series of The Crown (Netflix), which also won the award for Best Online First /Streaming production. It was revealed this week that she had been paid less for the series than her co-star Matt Smith.

Mark Bonnar was named Best Actor for a string of high-profile roles, including Unforgotten, Eric, Ernie and Me, Catastrophe and Apple Tree Yard. He can currently be seen in the latest series of Shetland on BBC One.

The edge-of-the-seat police series Line of Duty (BBC One) was named Best Drama Series, and its creator Jed Mercurio won the award for Best Writer. Three Girls, the three-part BBC One drama based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale, was named Best Single Drama/Mini-series.

Blue Planet II (BBC One) was named Best Documentary Series and Chris Packham: Aspergers and Me (BBC Two) won the award for Best Single Documentary. Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham will both be attending the lunch to receive their awards.

The annual Harvey Lee Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting was given to the children’s television producers Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes, in special recognition of Blue Peter, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.  The citation says: “For creating the ‘new’ Blue Peter in the early 1960s alongside the late Rosemary Gill. The involvement of its audience was ground-breaking, giving every child the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the programme, to become involved in charity fund-raising and win a coveted Blue Peter badge. Blue Peter unleashed the power and potential of children’s television and 60 years on has created some of its most memorable moments.”

The BPG Award for Innovation went to Channel 4 for its latest advances in championing diversity both on and off screen. These include initiatives such as Spotlight on Directors and diversity throughout its commissioning – in programmes such as Ackley Bridge, The Last Leg and its 50 Shades of Gay season – and in its advertising. The citation says: “Channel 4 has built on its pioneering Paralympics coverage to embrace the wider community and has demonstrated a first-in-class commitment to its public service broadcasting remit”. The award will be accepted by Channel Four’s chief executive Alex Mahon.

Channel Four also won the award for Best Entertainment/Factual Entertainment category, with its first series of The Great British Bake Off, which it controversially lured from BBC One. Judge Prue Leith will attend the lunch to receive the award. Detectorists (BBC Four) was named Best Comedy and its writer-performer Mackenzie Crook will pick up the award with his co-star Toby Jones.

The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic), featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on the latest stage of their culinary travels, won the award for Best Multichannel (non-PSB) programme. Its writer-director, the renowned British film maker Michael Winterbottom, will receive the award.

The BBC Reith Lectures 2017, given by the double Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, exploring the challenges and legitimacy of historical fiction, won the award for BPG Radio Programme of the Year. The award will be collected by Sue Lawley, who presents the series.

The other two audio awards, for Radio Broadcaster of the Year and Podcast of the Year, celebrated the discussion of politics, and will be received at the lunch by Emma Barnett, Ed Miliband and his co-presenter Geoff Lloyd.

Torin Douglas, chair of the radio jury, said: “Emma Barnett, our Radio Broadcaster of the Year, hit the headlines during and after the general election campaign, when she interviewed Jeremy Corbyn and Teresa May and coaxed memorable reactions from both of them. The Labour leader’s inability to answer her questions on a major policy announcement was widely labelled a ‘car crash’ and the Prime Minister’s admission that ‘she shed a little tear’ after she heard the exit poll result was also picked up by every newspaper.

“Ed Miliband, who with Geoff Lloyd won the BPG’s first Podcast of the Year award, has found a new role since stepping down as Labour leader. After standing in for Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, where he segued brilliantly from flushing toilets to the universal basic income, he now presents a ‘podcast about ideas’ which one of our judges said was like listening to the Today programme without the egos running rampant over the interviewees”.


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Notes to editors

  1. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than 120 members. They are journalists who specialise in covering television, radio and the media, and include critics, previewers, media correspondents and feature writers from national newspapers, broadcasters and leading trade journals and websites.
  2. The invitation-only event in the Grand Saloon of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is sponsored by Virgin TV and attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. Details of the nominations, previous BPG awards and Virgin TV can be found at http://broadcastingpressguild.org, together with pictures, videos and a history of the Guild.
  3. Harvey Lee – in honour of whom our Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting Award is named – was a leading light of the BPG, who died at the tragically early age of 41. The award for outstanding achievement has been given in his memory every year since every year since 1992. Previous winners are named on our website: http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/bpgawards/harvey-lee/
  4. This year’s BPG Awards are sponsored by Virgin TV. Virgin TV is part of Virgin Media, which offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline. Its interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones. It launched the world’s first virtual mobile network and is also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland. Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company, with operations in more than 30 countries. www.virginmedia.com/tv

For more information about the Broadcasting Press Guild, please contact:

Torin Douglas, BPG  torindouglas@aol.com or 07860 422992


The full list of BPG TV and Radio Awards winners is:


Best Single Drama/Mini-series

Three Girls
A BBC Studios in association with Studio Lambert production for BBC One

Best Drama Series

Line of Duty

Produced by World Productions for BBC One                                                                                 

Best Single Documentary

Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me
A Raw TV production for BBC Two

Best Documentary Series

Blue Planet II

A co-production of BBC Worldwide, WDR, BBC America, Tencent, The Open University, France Televisions & CCTV9 made by BBC Studios, Natural History Unit for BBC One

Best Entertainment

The Great British Bake Off
A Love Productions production for Channel 4

Best Digital First Streaming

The Crown
A Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures TV Company production for Netflix                                                                                                                                           

Best Comedy


A Channel X North, Treasure Trove Productions & Lola Entertainment production for BBC Four

Best Multichannel Programme

The Trip to Spain
A Revolution Films, Baby Cow, Small Man Production for Sky Atlantic

Radio Broadcaster of the Year

Emma Barnett

The Emma Barnett Show, BBC Radio 5 Live, and Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4

Radio Programme of the Year

BBC Reith Lectures 2017: Hilary Mantel
A BBC Radio Current Affairs production for BBC Radio 4

Podcast of the Year

Reasons to be Cheerful
A Cheerful Thinking production

Best Actor

Mark Bonnar for Eric, Ernie and Me (BBC Four), Apple Tree Yard (BBC One), Catastrophe (Channel 4), Unforgotten (ITV)

Best Actress

Claire Foy for The Crown (Netflix)                                                                                                         

Best Writer

Jed Mercurio for Line of Duty (BBC One)

Innovation Award

Channel 4 for new advances in championing diversity, including initiatives such as Spotlight on Directors and diversity throughout its commissioning and in its advertising.

Harvey Lee Award

Biddy Baxter & Edward Barnes, children’s television producers, in special recognition of Blue Peter.