Happy Birthday BPG! by veteran members Graham Keal and Rosalie Horner

L to r: Graham Keal, Rory Cellan-Jones, Tara Conlan, Alan Yentob and Sir Nicholas Mostyn

Graham Keal (above, left) has been attending the BPG Awards for 40 years – on LinkedIn he reflected on this year’s 50th anniversary ceremony

And so we say farewell to this year’s annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Lunch, which I’ve been attending since 1984 – with Happy Valley the most prominent winner, after being deservedly voted Best Drama, with its creator Sally Wainwright winning Best Writer and star Sarah Lancashire, pictured here with co-star Siobhan Finneran (BPG pic) winning Best Actress.

Sarah Lancashire
Siobhan Finneran
Photograph: Richard Kendal
BPG Awards 2024
London Horseguards Hotel London

Other luminaries present included Toby Jones from Mr Bates vs The Post Office (winner of the Special Jury Prize), Ken Bruce (Audio Presenter of the Year) and Jeremy Paxman, who last year won the Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting and this year won Podcast of the Year for his Movers and Shakers series, with fellow-participants Rory Cellan-Jones and Sir Nicholas Mostyn, who accepted on their behalf with what was easily the wittiest speech of the day. He was also amiable and chatty beforehand and cheerily gave me a great tip for ending it all if old age and infirmity become too burdensome…

Former BBC2 Controller Alan Yentob, who nowadays presents arts documentary strand Imagine, was also in this group so I was able to Hobnob with Yentob – and I give him that for free should he ever launch his own chat show.

Best Actor went to Gary Oldman for the superb Slow Horses – worth getting Apple TV+ for if only to binge on all three series (I did) and most impassioned speech of the day came from Andy Harries, producer of The Crown, amongst countless other hit TV series and movies (including The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, for which he was Oscar-nominated).

Andy said this: “TV is a big business and we are very good at it – much of our top UK talent play a key part in US funded TV shows, and mega Hollywood movies are being shot here in the UK – but despite all our success, I am worried that the very heart of our UK business – our public broadcasters – are increasingly looking vulnerable with ad money now draining from ITV and C4 to Amazon and Netflix, and the BBC’s licence fee falling far short of the rate of inflation.”

I am myself worried that this may have been not only the 50th but also the last BPG Awards lunch. Although sufficient sponsors were finally found to underwrite the cost of the event – which runs to tens of thousands of pounds – organising it each year is all down to volunteer committee members such as the indefatigable outgoing Awards Secretary Kate Bulkley, bustling Ross Biddescombe and the ever-industrious and conscientious treasurer Torin Douglas, and it’s a massive undertaking.

I wish recently-appointed Chair of the BPG Manori Ravindran the very best of luck in assembling a team that can replicate the enormous achievements of the previous incumbents. It certainly won’t be easy.

@BPGPressGuild #BPGAwards


Greetings from Rosalie Horner (BPG chair 1980-81, then lunch secretary) in Australia

Rosalie Horner presenting Sir Alec Guinness with his Best Actor award for ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ in 1980

I am thinking of all my dear Broadcasting Press Guild friends and guests, and of course this year’s splendid winners. Congratulations! Everyone’s a winner today as you celebrate the BPG’s magnificent half century.  

I send love and greetings from Sydney, Australia. Have a fabulous time. I wish I were with you.

As the first female chair of the BPG and now honoured as a lifelong member of the Guild, I have always taken great pride in the achievements of the Guild. From the early days, people such as Martin Jackson, Sean Day-Lewis, Richard Last, Stewart Lane, Harvey Lee, Brenda Maddox, and more recently, Torin Douglas and Kate Bulkley, all have worked hard to make the annual Awards a must-attend event in the broadcasting calendar.

Over the years, the BPG has hosted the great names of British broadcasting, legends such as Peggy Ashcroft, John Pilger, Alec Guinness, Bruce Forsyth, Helen Mirren, David Attenborough, Colin Firth, Cilla Black, Terry Wogan, Dennis Potter, Kenith Trodd, Andrew Davies and many, many more. I have been privileged to take bread with them in a variety of venues which include the rude charm of the Shakespeare Tavern under the arches at Blackfriars, Covent Garden’s Crush Bar and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

I also remember the ‘after party’, that unplanned event which occurred once the Awards and the wine were finished. More sustenance was taken in taverns nearby which saw lively, if increasingly inaccurate reruns of the main event until finally the remaining journalists and actors staggered off into the night to catch tubes, trains or taxis in the belief that Fleet Street and ‘the box’ were made for each other.  

Happy birthday BPG!  Have a great time.  I’m with you in spirit.

We’ve also received birthday good wishes from Richard Last
(BPG co-founder, chair 1984-85, then membership and lunch secretary, and treasurer)
and Maggie Forwood (BPG chair 1982-83)

Former BPG chairs in 2004, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Left to right: Front row: Torin Douglas, Richard Last, Brenda Maddox, Sean Day-Lewis; Back row: Steve Clark, Rosalie Horner, Martin Jackson, Margaret Forwood, Ray Snoddy