Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2018 – Television nominations

Quirky comedies Detectorists and Inside No. 9 go head to head in the shortlists for this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) Awards, chosen by esteemed TV and radio journalists. Both series have been nominated as Best Comedy with writer-performers Mackenzie Crook (Detectorists, BBC Four), Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (Inside No. 9, BBC Two) also shortlisted for the Best Writer award. They are joined on the shortlist by Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty) and Peter Morgan (The Crown).

The BPG Awards – which are for work commissioned in the UK and screened in 2017 – are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers. The 44th annual BPG awards, sponsored by Virgin TV, will be held at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 16th 2018.

Stunning performances from Hayley Atwell (Howard’s End, BBC One), Claire Foy (The Crown), Thandie Newton (Line of Duty, BBC One), Maxine Peake (Three Girls, BBC One) and Emily Watson (Apple Tree Yard, Little Women, BBC One) see these leading ladies competing for the prestigious Best Actress award.

Detectorists also sees a Best Actor nomination for Toby Jones, who’ll be competing with Sean Bean (Broken, BBC One), Babou Ceesay (Guerrilla, Sky Atlantic), Matt Smith (The Crown, Netflix), and Mark Bonnar, who is nominated for four performances in Unforgotten (ITV), Eric, Ernie and Me (BBC Four), Apple Tree Yard (BBC One) and Catastrophe (Channel 4).

Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders (both BBC Two), The State (C4) and Tin Star (Sky Atlantic) are shortlisted for best TV drama series. Eric, Ernie and Me, Little Women and Three Girls will compete with Sky 1’s Delicious 2 for the Best Single Drama/Mini-series award.

Two BBC Two documentaries – Chris Packham: Aspergers and Me and Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution – have been nominated as Best Single Documentary, alongside Idris Elba: Fighter (Discovery) and Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds (Channel 4).

Blue Planet II (BBC One), Hospital (BBC Two), Rock and Roll (Sky Arts) and Trump: An American Dream (Channel 4) are shortlisted for Best Documentary Series.

In the Best Entertainment/Factual Entertainment category, three previous winners – The Great British Bake Off (now on Channel Four), The Graham Norton Show and Strictly Come Dancing (both BBC One) – will be competing with Taskmaster (Dave). The Best Comedy award will be contested by Detectorists (BBC Four), Inside No. 9 (BBC Two), Peter Kay’s Car Share (BBC iPlayer, BBC One) and The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic).

The BPG is again recognising the growing importance of programmes commissioned for streaming or showing online first, instead of on a broadcast channel, with The Best Online First/Streaming award.This year it will be contested by The Crown and Black Mirror (both Netflix), End of the F***ing World (ALL4, Channel 4) and People Just Do Nothing (BBC Three).

The Best of Multichannel (non-PSB) Award will go to one of the four non-PSB programmes shortlisted in drama, documentaries, comedy and entertainment.

The nominations for the annual BPG award for innovation in broadcasting are: Albert – the free online tool for calculating a production’s carbon footprint; BBC Three – for showcasing new comedy talent; and Channel 4 – for recent innovations in championing diversity both on and off screen.

The 44th annual BPG awards, sponsored by Virgin TV, will be presented at an awards lunch held at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 16th 2018. The event will be attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives. The Company said: “Virgin TV is delighted to be sponsoring the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2018. Together we’re celebrating the TV people love.”  For more information about Virgin TV visit www.virginmedia.com/tv

Further information from Torin Douglas, BPG, 07860 422992

 

Notes to editors:

  1. The winners will be announced at the 44th BPG Awards lunch in the beautifully restored Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 16th 2018, sponsored by Virgin TV. The Harvey Lee Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting, which is in the gift of the BPG Executive Committee, will also be presented. Winners will be informed in advance and places at the lunch are by invitation only.
  2. 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, connecting over 22 million customers through operations in 12 countries across Europe. www.virginmedia.com/tv
  3. The shortlists for Radio Broadcaster of the Year and Radio Programme of the Year will be announced in a week’s time.
  4. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than a hundred 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.
  5. Previous BPG Best Actress winners include Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Gillian Anderson, Vanessa Redgrave, Maxine Peake, Anne-Marie Duff, Dame Diana Rigg, Zoe Wanamaker, Gina McKee, Dame Julie Walters, Olivia Colman, Sheridan Smith, Keeley Hawes and Juliet Stevenson.
  6. The BPG Best Actor award has previously been awarded to Sir Mark Rylance, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Colin Firth, Sir Alec Guinness, Albert Finney, Charles Dance, Robert Hardy, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Ecclestone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Robbie Coltrane and Dominic West among others (see more details and photos at http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/).


The full list of nominations is:

Best Single Drama /Mini-series

Delicious 2 (Sky 1)

Eric, Ernie and Me (BBC Four)

Little Women (BBC One)

Three Girls (BBC One)  

 

Best Drama Series

Line of Duty (BBC One)

Peaky Blinders (BBC Two)

The State (Channel 4)

Tin Star (Sky Atlantic)

 

Best Single Documentary/Mini-series

Chris Packham: Aspergers and Me (BBC Two)

Idris Elba: Fighter (Discovery)

Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds (Channel 4)

Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution (BBC Two)

 

Best Documentary Series

Blue Planet II (BBC One)

Hospital (BBC Two)

Rock and Roll (Sky Arts)

Trump: An American Dream (Channel 4)

 

Best Online First /Streaming

Black Mirror (Netflix)

End of the F***ing World (All 4, Channel 4)

People Just Do Nothing (BBC Three)

The Crown (Netflix)

 

Best Comedy

Detectorists (BBC Four)

Inside No. 9 (BBC Two)

Peter Kay’s Car Share (BBC iPlayer, BBC One)

The Trip To Spain (Sky Atlantic)

 

Best Entertainment/Factual

The Great British Bake-Off (Channel 4)

Strictly Come Dancing (BBC One)

Taskmaster (Dave)

The Graham Norton Show (BBC One)

 

Best of Multichannel

Rock and Roll (Sky Arts)

Taskmaster (Dave)

Tin Star (Sky Atlantic)

The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic)

 

Best Actress

Hayley Atwell, Howard’s End   

Claire Foy, The Crown            

Thandie Newton, Line of Duty

Maxine Peake, Three Girls

Emily Watson, Little Women/Apple Tree Yard

 

Best Actor

Sean Bean, Broken

Mark Bonnar, Unforgotten/Eric, Ernie and Me/Catastrophe/Apple Tree Yard

Babou Ceesay, Guerrilla

Toby Jones, Detectorists

Matt Smith, The Crown

 

Writer’s Award

Mackenzie Crook, Detectorists

Jed Mercurio, Line of Duty

Peter Morgan, The Crown

Reece Shearsmith & Steve Pemberton, Inside No 9

 

BPG Innovation in Broadcasting

Albert – the free online tool for calculating a production’s carbon footprint

BBC Three – for showcasing new comedy talent

Channel 4 – for new advances in championing diversity both on and off screen

 

Further information from Torin Douglas, BPG, 07860 422992

The Night Manager, The Crown, Planet Earth II and Desert Island Discs take top prizes at 43rd Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

Keeley Hawes, Robbie Coltrane, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and James O’Brien win individual awards

After a great year for TV drama, The Night Manager, The Crown, National Treasure, The Witness for The Prosecution, Line of Duty, The Durrells and The Missing have all been recognised at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, voted for by journalists who write about TV and radio.

Caroline Frost, BPG Chair, said: “In a year where drama continued to electrify and surprise TV audiences, and prove itself still capable of water-cooler moments, there was huge competition for all of our drama awards.”

The 43rd 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)

Keeley Hawes was named Best Actress for her roles in three hit drama series – Line of Duty (BBC Two), The Durrells (ITV) and The Missing (BBC One). She will receive her award at today’s lunch.

Caroline Frost said “She is someone who, through her diverse choice of roles, her knack of picking scripts that become must-see TV drama for huge audiences and her willingness to bring vulnerability as well as power to screen, continues to surprise and delight us with every fresh project.”

The Night Manager (BBC One) was named Best Drama Series, and two of its stars, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hollander, will receive the award. The Crown (Netflix) won the award for Best Online First/Streaming and the Agatha Christie play The Witness for the Prosecution (BBC One) was named Best Single Drama. Robbie Coltrane was named Best Actor for National Treasure (Channel 4).

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, actress and writer of the comedy series Fleabag (BBC Three, then BBC Two) was named Best Writer, and will attend the lunch. Mum (BBC Two) won the award for Best Comedy and its star Lesley Manville will receive the award.

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.

Planet Earth II (BBC One) was named Best Documentary Series and Hillsborough (BBC Two) won the award for Best Single Documentary. The annual BPG Award for Innovation went to Exodus: Our Journey in Europe (BBC Two) for the innovative use of mobile phones and crowd-sourced content to tell a compelling story.

The award for Best Entertainment programme went to BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show, and Alan Partridge: Mid Morning Matters (Sky Atlantic) won the award for Best Multichannel (non-PSB) programme.

In its 75th anniversary year, Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, presented by Kirsty Young, was named Radio Programme of the Year.

Maisie McCabe, chair of the radio jury, said “Even by its high standards, 2016 was a particularly strong year for Desert Island Discs. Guests included the CEO of Lloyd’s of London talking about her sexuality, Bruce Springsteen reminiscing about hearing The Beatles for the first time and Bill Gates on Steve Jobs. And all stewarded by a supremely talented broadcaster, who knows what questions to ask and when to let her guests speak.”

LBC’s James O’Brien was named Radio Broadcaster of the Year.

Maisie McCabe said: “In a year that seemed to bring us at least a decade’s worth of major news events, James spoke honestly and compassionately about the major issues of the day, not only providing brilliant live radio for his listeners, but reaching a whole new audience online, as people shared his remarks and debated them on social media.”

The Harvey Lee award for an Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting, which is in the gift of the BPG executive committee, has gone to the documentary filmmaker and producer Norma Percy. She has persuaded a who’s who of world leaders to be interviewed for revelatory series such as The Death of Yugoslavia, The Second Russian Revolution and Inside Obama’s White House. She has been responsible, with Brian Lapping, for many other award-winning documentaries made by Brook Lapping, including The Iraq War, Putin, Russia & The West, Iran & The West, The Fall of Milosevic, Endgame in Ireland, and Elusive Peace: Israel & The Arabs.

 

All media and photography requests:

Verity Henderson, Virgin Media

T: 0333 000 2900

M: 07964 938893

E: press@virginmedia.co.uk

@VirginMediaCorp

 

For social media, please follow:

www.twitter.com/BPGPressGuild

www.twitter.com/VirginMediaCorp

#BPGAwards

https://www.facebook.com/broadcastingpressguild/

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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/
  1. 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

The Witness for the Prosecution
A Mammoth Screen & Agatha Christie Productions production for BBC One, in association with A+E Networks & RLJ Entertainment 

Best Drama Series

The Night Manager

Produced by The Ink Factory, Demarest Films & Character 7 for BBC One in co-production with AMC.

Best Single Documentary

Hillsborough

A VeryMuchSo & Passion Pictures production for BBC Two

Best Documentary Series

Planet Earth II

A BBC Studios Natural History Unit Production, co-produced with BBC America, ZDF, Tencent & France Television for BBC One 

Best Entertainment

The Graham Norton Show

A So Television production for BBC One

Best Online First/Streaming

The Crown

Produced by Left Bank Pictures, a Sony Pictures TV Company, for Netflix

Best Comedy

Mum

A Big Talk Production in association with The Money Men for BBC Two

Radio Broadcaster of the Year

James O’Brien

A Global production for LBC

Radio Programme of the Year

Desert Island Discs, presented by Kirsty Young

A BBC Factual Radio Production for BBC Radio 4

Best Actor

Robbie Coltrane for National Treasure (Channel 4)

Best Actress

Keeley Hawes – for Line of Duty (BBC Two), The Durrells (ITV) and The Missing (BBC One)

Best Writer
Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag

A Two Brothers Pictures Production for BBC Three

Innovation Award

Exodus: Our Journey to Europe

For innovative use of crowd-sourced content & camera phones, including first-person points of view from refugees themselves to tell a compelling story about the migrant crisis
A Keo Films production for BBC Two

Harvey Lee Award

Norma Percy, Brook Lapping

Filmmaker Norma Percy to be honoured by TV and radio writers

The documentary filmmaker and producer Norma Percy, who has persuaded a who’s who of world leaders to be interviewed for revelatory series such as The Death of Yugoslavia, The Second Russian Revolution and Inside Obama’s White House, is to be honoured later this week by journalists who write about broadcasting for a living. [Read more…]

BPG Awards 2017 – Radio nominations

BBC news presenters Jeremy Vine, Martha Kearney and Eddie Mair have been shortlisted with LBC’s James O’Brien for the title BPG Radio Broadcaster of the Year at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, chosen by journalists who write about TV and radio.

And Eddie Mair’s PM programme will compete with Desert Island Discs, In Our Time and Today for BPG Radio Programme of the Year. The 43rd annual BPG awards, sponsored by Virgin TV, will be presented next month at a lunch in central London.

 

The nominations for BPG Radio Broadcaster of the Year are:

– Martha Kearney – The World at One, BBC Radio 4 – weekdays, 1pm to 1.45pm

– Eddie Mair – PM, BBC Radio 4 – weekdays, 5pm to 6pm

– Jeremy Vine – BBC Radio 2, weekdays 12 Noon to 2pm

– James O’Brien – LBC, weekdays, 10am to 1pm

 

The nominations for BPG Radio Programme of the Year are:

Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4

In Our Time, BBC Radio 4

PM, BBC Radio 4

Today, BBC Radio 4

 

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.

Previous winners of the BPG Radio Broadcaster award include Alistair Cook, Sir Terry Wogan, Jane Garvey, Nick Ferrari, Eddie Mair, John Finnemore, Sue Lawley, Jonathan Ross, Evan Davis, Charlotte Green, Simon Mayo, Sean Rafferty, Kirsty Young, Brian Redhead, Mark Tully, Sandy Toksvig, Michael Buerk, Susannah Simons and Graham Seed (Nigel Pargetter).

The Awards lunch, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 17th 2017, will be sponsored for the first time by Virgin TV. The event will be attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives.

Further information from Torin Douglas, BPG, 07860 422992                             

 

Notes to editors:

  1. The winners will be announced at the 43rd BPG Awards lunch in the beautifully restored Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 17th 2017, sponsored by Virgin TV. The Harvey Lee Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting, which is in the gift of the BPG Executive Committee, will be presented as well. Winners will be informed in advance and places at the lunch are by invitation only.
  1. 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
  1. The television nominations for this year’s BPG Awards were announced on February 16th 2017. http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/2017/02/broadcasting-press-guild-awards-2017-television-nominations/
  1. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than a hundred 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.

Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2017 – Television nominations

The Netflix drama series The Crown leads the nominations at this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, chosen by journalists who write about TV and radio. Its stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith, who play Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, have been nominated in the acting categories, Peter Morgan is shortlisted for best writer, and the series is nominated as the best ‘online first or streaming’ programme. [Read more…]

BPG Awards 2016 – Radio nominations

BPG-NOW-TV-Lockup-With-Info-FINALDanny Baker, Lauren Laverne, Test Match Special and The Archers are among the top radio presenters and programmes shortlisted for this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, chosen by journalists who write about TV and radio. [Read more…]

Lenny Henry to be honoured by TV journalists on Red Nose Day

Lenny Henry – comedian, actor, presenter, writer, and activist – is to be honoured at lunchtime today (Friday) by journalists who write about TV for a living. [Read more…]

BPG Awards 2015 – Television nominations

BPG Awards 41 Final-logo-landscapeThree of TV’s most popular actresses – Sheridan Smith, Keeley Hawes and Sarah Lancashire – have been shortlisted for the annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, chosen by journalists who write about TV and radio. The awards, sponsored by Discovery Channel, will be presented next month at a lunch in central London. [Read more…]

Andrew Davies honoured by TV journalists to mark 40 years of the Broadcasting Press Guild

The television dramatist Andrew Davies, whose adaptations of House of Cards, 
Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House became worldwide hits, is to be honoured 
later this week by journalists who write about TV for a living.

On Friday (March 28th) he will be given the Harvey Lee Award for an outstanding 
contribution to broadcasting at the 40th Broadcasting Press Guild Awards lunch. 
The ceremony, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is sponsored by the Discovery 
Channel, which celebrates its own 25th anniversary this year. 
http://www.discoveryuk.com/

The BPG Awards are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected 
independently by journalists who write about TV and radio – correspondents, 
critics and previewers. The awards lunch will be attended by the winners, BPG 
members and leading broadcasting executives. www.broadcastingpressguild.org

Andrew Davies has created more BPG award-winning programmes than anyone else in 
the Guild's 40-year history. 

He first made his name with contemporary dramas for the BBC such as A Very 
Peculiar Practice (1986/88), Mother Love (1989) and House of Cards (1990) from 
the novel by Michael Dobbs - which is now making waves in the digital space, 
thanks to Netflix's exclusive streaming of the US version starring Kevin Spacey. 
He won the BPG's best writer award in 1993.

Andrew Davies became better known for his adaptations of a string of classic 
costume dramas, beginning with the BBC's hugely popular Pride and Prejudice 
(1995, starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett). 
It won the BPG award the following year for best drama series and Colin Firth 
was named best actor.

Then came Wives and Daughters (1999), which won the BPG awards for best drama 
series and best actress (Justine Waddell). The Way We Live Now (2001) won the 
BPG awards for best drama series and best actor (David Suchet). The same year, 
Davies wrote Othello - a modern-day drama based on Shakespeare's characters, for 
ITV - which was named best single drama.  Daniel Deronda (2002) won the BPG's 
award for best drama series.

In 2006, his dramatisation of Bleak House, broadcast in 15 half-hour episodes on 
BBC One immediately after EastEnders, won the BPG awards for best drama series, 
best actor (Charles Dance) and best actress (Gillian Anderson).

Other memorable dramas by Andrew Davies include Middlemarch, Tipping the Velvet, 
Little Dorrit, South Riding and, currently, Mr Selfridge for ITV. He is 
currently adapting War and Peace for the BBC.

Andrew Davies will be attending the awards lunch on Friday with his wife.

You can read a history of the Broadcasting Press Guild, including a full list of 
winners over the past 40 years, and see pictures and videos of previous awards 
ceremonies at:
http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/2014/03/25/history-of-the-broadcasting-press-guild/

Pictures of some shows available on request.

Notes to editors:

1. The winners will be announced at the 40th BPG Awards lunch in the beautifully 
restored Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 28th 2014. The Harvey Lee 
Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting, which is in the gift of the 
BPG Executive Committee, will be presented as well. Winners will be informed in 
advance and places at the lunch are by invitation only.

2. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than a hundred 
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.

3. BPG Best Actress winners during the Guild's 40 years include Dame Eileen 
Atkins, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Gillian Anderson, Vanessa 
Redgrave, Maxine Peake, Anne-Marie Duff, Dame Diana Rigg, Zoe Wanamaker, Gina 
McKee, Julie Walters, Olivia Colman and Juliet Stevenson.

4. The Best Actor award has gone to Sir Kenneth Branagh, Colin Firth, Sir Alec 
Guinness, Albert Finney, Charles Dance, Robert Hardy, Jim Broadbent, Christopher 
Ecclestone, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dominic West among others (see more details 
and photos at http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/.)

Further information from Torin Douglas, BPG:  torindouglas@aol.com or 07860 
422992

 

History of the Broadcasting Press Guild

The first 21 years by Richard Last, BPG Chairman 1984-85,
2014 updates by Torin Douglas, BPG Chairman 1996-98
27880004

Sir Robin Day (centre) receives his BPG Award from Stewart Lane and Rosalie Horner

The Broadcasting Press Guild had its origins in the early 1970s when Sean Day-Lewis, broadcasting correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, and Martin Jackson, TV and radio correspondent of the Daily Express, decided to activate the moribund Television Section of the Critics’ Circle.

Their initiative, reviving a short-lived TV critics’ group led by Marsland Gander and Clifford Davis in the 1950s, enjoyed the backing of the BBC chairman Lord Hill, whose political instincts favoured a TV journalists’ lobby. It received enthusiastic support and a series of successful lunches was held at the Cafe Royal. Early guests included Lord Hill, Lord Aylestone, chairman of the ITA, and Paul Fox, Controller BBC1.  David Attenborough, at that time BBC Television’s Director of Programmes, also accepted an invitation to attend and was lightly grilled – to no effect – about the entrenched refusal of his Light Entertainment department to allow previews.

After this promising start, disillusionment set in because of the restrictions the parent Circle tried to impose on our activities. They did not like membership being extended from reviewers to correspondents, and they set their face firmly against the idea of Awards, something the fledgling TV Section was very keen to institute.

 

The birth of the Guild

27880005

Sir David Attenborough receives his BPG Award from Rosalie Horner

By the end of 1973, the urge towards some form of UDI was too strong to be denied. The Guild was effectively born at a special lunch held in the cellars of the Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, attended by existing Circle members and others actively interested in forming a new body. The Guild’s constitution, and its name, were hammered out over a few pints in the upper room of the Punch Tavern by a provisional committee consisting of Sean Day-Lewis, Martin Jackson, Peter Fiddick, Richard Last, Stewart Lane and the late Jimmy Thomas.

Peter Fiddick became first Guild chairman and Richard Last, as secretary, drafted the rules and proposed a formula (still largely unchanged) for deciding the Awards, but was thwarted over the matter of the Guild’s name, which was decided while he was downstairs getting in a round.

From the outset, it was agreed that the Guild lunches should not be subjected – as Circle events had been – to a ‘non-attributable’ restriction. It was felt that this would be resented by the wider membership now eligible (anyone whose major activity was writing about TV and radio, in whatever capacity). Experience had also shown that at least one member per lunch would break the embargo.

The initial membership of the Guild in 1974 was 27 (today’s roll is 83, though we have been up in the 90s). It grew most rapidly during the secretaryship of Stewart Lane, who took over a crisis in 1977 and stayed for three and a half years, subsequently becoming Awards Organiser and Chairman. One of Stewart’s earliest coups was to arrange a lunch with the then Conservative Home Secretary, Willie (later Lord) Whitelaw, who proved amazingly candid, especially in the bar before lunch. Stewart was at the time a paid-up member of the Communist Party.

 

The BPG Awards and Lunches

Harvey Lee

Harvey Lee

Another Guild stalwart was the late Harvey Lee, who like Stewart held all of the Guild offices except Treasurer. He was particularly active in cementing the Guild’s long-running relationship with BBC Pebble Mill, initiated by our first female chair, now the Guild’s energetic Lunch Secretary, Rosalie Horner. Rosalie appeared solo in our first 20-minute Awards “special” from the Mill; over the next 13 years many Guild members participated in the annual 50-minute programme.

Harvey also took the Awards lunch to the Royal Opera House and found sponsors for our most prestigious annual event. He died at the tragically early age of 41 in 1991, and the Guild instituted a special Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting in his memory.

Over the years, the Guild has entertained almost every senior figure in the industry, from successive Chairmen and Directors-General of the BBC and IBA onwards. A number of guests – especially those who have changed channels – have addressed us several times. The record (four lunches) is held by Sir Michael Checkland, former DG of the BBC, who first talked to a small but impressed gathering in his days as Director of Resources.

Generally speaking, despite Lord Hill’s notion of a “lobby”, the BPG has not regarded itself as a pressure group. Our main purpose has been to further contacts between journalists and broadcasters, professionally and socially. From time to time we intervened in disputes between members and broadcasting organisations, usually in matters relating to viewing facilities. We abstained from submitting any recommendations to the Annan Committee (partly because it would have been near-impossible to arrive at a consensus view). We did however campaign long and earnestly to persuade the BBC’s Light Entertainment department to join the rest of the television fraternity in allowing previews. It took all of ten years but we got there in the end.

 

A Short History of BPG Venues

27880001

Rosalie Horner introduces Yes Minister actor Paul Eddington

Over its 21 years, the Guild has not experienced too much difficulty in attracting high-profile guests with something interesting to say. More challenging has been the constant search for suitable venues in which to entertain them, at prices members (or their editors) could afford.

We began at Kettners in Soho, once a favoured haunt of the Edwardian upper crusts dining away from their wives. It changed hands and is now an upmarket pizzeria. We went upmarket to the former Curzon Street Club, an exclusive gaming joint which served gourmet meals at unbelievably low prices. One of our guests there was (Lord) Merlyn Rees, then Labour’s Home Secretary. He arrived with an entourage of three and evidently enjoyed himself. Within weeks the Curzon and several sister gambling clubs had been closed down, by order of the Home Office!

Our next moves were to the Ivy, then owned by (Lord) Lew Grade in his wife’s name, and the urbane Savile Club in Mayfair, where Douglas Hurd’s revelations about the future of broadcasting were punctuated by the distant clamour of members queuing for coffee. Service at both venues seemed to decline as their prices rose.

Some of our other excursions survived only a single visit, like the one we made to a Soho restaurant which had neglected to inform us that visitors in an adjoining private room would have to flow through ours. Our guest, Alasdair Milne, then the BBC’s MD Television, remained remarkably unruffled, but the officers decided not to risk it again.

For the time being, we have come to rest only a few yards from this disaster, as the elegant Soho Soho. But we’re always on the lookout for genuinely practical suggestions…

Update 2014: We moved to One Lombard Street for a while, a former bank next to Bank station in the City, and later returned to the Soho Soho premises, supporting it through several name changes – Bertorelli Soho, Frankie’s Pop-Up and Giraffe Cafe and Bar. When it finally closed its doors we moved down Frith Street to Little Italy, after a few excursions to the Groucho Club. A full list of our lunch guests since 2001 is Here:

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Rosalie Horner presents the BPG Award to Sir Alec Guinness for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Our Awards venues have ranged even more widely, from the homely Cheshire Cheese to the ornate Glaziers’ Hall overlooking the Thames at London Bridge. But our two longest runs have been at Shakespeare’s Tavern, a cheap ‘n’ cheerful series of caverns underneath the arches at Blackfriars (now demolished), and for the past seven years the Crush Bar of the Royal Opera House.

Update 2014: We remained at the Crush Bar for three more years until it was closed in 1998 for the redevelopment of the Opera House, when we moved round the corner to the bar of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, known as the Grand Saloon. We have been comfortably ensconced there ever since, with the exception of the 2013 Awards, when the theatre was closed for refurbishment, and we moved to the Gladstone Library at One Whitehall Place. For more information about the Awards, including annual lists of the winners, see Here:

One of our most memorable Awards lunches was held at Shakespeare’s Tavern in 1979, when the Award for Best Drama Series went, predictably, to Dennis Potter’s inspired Pennies from Heaven. Potter’s producer Ken Trodd had bet Dennis that the series, however well received, would never rate an award. Trodd paid up as he and Potter came through the doorway – in pennies. It made a marvellous photo opportunity.

Lighter Moments with our Lunch Guests

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Investigative journalist John PIlger receives his BPG Award watched by Rosalie Horner and Richard Last

As Controller BBC1, Bill Cotton came to Kettners to tell us of his programme plans. He denied that BBC Television was importing “too much foreign rubbish”. There was, he implied, plenty of the home-grown variety available.

Paul Fox, a staunch objector to the independent constitution of Channel 4 (like other ITV chiefs, he wanted Four to be effectively an ITV2), declared that his company, Yorkshire, would have no truck with the new channel and would not make programmes for it. Paul soon became a C4 champion and a member of its board.

Peter Jay attended a lunch as head of TV-am. He apologised for having to leave by 2pm (normally the time when speakers get started) because he had tickets for Wimbledon. However he managed to talk and answer questions, more or less non-stop, while ploughing through the Ivy’s best).

Update 2014: Speaking while eating became the standard practice as journalists’ lives became less leisurely in the digital age. We allow the speaker to eat their first course in peace before addressing the members between courses and then taking questions throughout the main course and coffee. Some have coped as well as Peter Jay, others have given up the struggle and just talked.

Aubrey Singer, arch-enthusiast, used his visit as managing director, BBC Radio, to tell us  about his new networking plans. Like other lunch guests, he had been asked to limit his opening remarks to 10-15 minutes. After he’d been going for almost 50, chairman Richard Last finally plucked up courage to point out that unless he wound up, there would be no time for questions.

For embarrassment while in the BPG chair, it would be hard to top the experience of Martin Jackson. Presiding over a lunch for John Freeman, then chairman of LWT, he fell asleep. Not during Freeman’s remarks, but his own. He passed out while proposing a vote of thanks and was awoken by his own snores. “Well” he points out “it had been a long lunch and it was a very hot day.”

David (now Sir David) Attenborough, attending an Awards lunch to pick up his gong for Life on Earth, apologised for having to make an early departure. He was, he explained to Peter Fiddick, flying to Glasgow in connection with the publication of the millionth copy of the book. “Of course,” he added modestly, “that’s only the English language version.”

Our transfer to the Royal Opera House in 1988 was also the year when we voted Jeremy Isaacs (by an overwhelming majority) as having made an outstanding contribution to broadcasting. By an even happier coincidence, he has just become General Director of the ROH. Alas, he was unable to attend our first lunch on his own premises, though for a very good reason. He was on his honeymoon.

Andy Allan, our last lunch guest of 1994, accepted an invitation to talk about the present state of ITV. He devoted his entire address to rubbishing daytime television, including the contributions of his own companies, Carlton and Central. Our members were enthralled; some of Andy’s fellow executives may have been less impressed.

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Rosalie Horner ensures Dame Peggy Ashcroft is not Caught on a Train

Among many illustrious guests who have received awards in the unlikely setting of Shakespeare’s Tavern were Sir Alec Guinness, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the late Dame Peggy Ashcroft. Sir Alec illustrated the mechanics of appearing on TV by pretending to poke his head through an empty picture frame. It was remarkable effective. Dame Peggy came to receive an award for her part in Stephen Poliakoff’s Caught on a Train. As she stepped up to the rostrum, one of the Holborn expresses rumbled overhead, providing chairman Rosalie Horner with a perfect cue line.

Possible the saddest of many acceptance speeches came in 1983 from John Walters for Radio 1’s Walters’ Weekly. He told us he was particularly delighted by our accolade, as the BBC had just decided to take the programme off.

Cheekiest acceptance, remembered by most present-day members, came from Andrew Davies (Writer’s Award) in the form of a comprehensive onslaught against John Birt and the BBC.

Update 2014: He went on to write a dozen BPG award-winning dramas, most of them for the BBC, and is this year’s recipient of the Harvey Lee Award for an outstanding contribution to broadcasting.

The most self-denigrating speech came from David Hatch, whose reply to the bestowal of the Harvey Lee Award consisted of a catalogue of all the mistakes he had made in his 30 years at the BBC.

Update 2014:  Since its inception in 1992, Harvey Lee Award winners have included Sir John Tusa, Charles Wheeler, Sir Denis Forman, Sir Terry Wogan, Sir David Frost, Cilla Black, Greg Dyke, Michael (Lord) Grade, Anne Wood, Melvyn (Lord) Bragg, Beryl Vertue and John Humphrys. A list of all the Harvey Lee Award winners, from 1992 to 2013, is Here:

The BPG’s Best Actress winners during the Guild’s 40 years include Dame Diana Rigg, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Gillian Anderson, Vanessa Redgrave, Maxine Peake, Anne-Marie Duff, Zoe Wanamaker, Gina McKee, Julie Walters, Olivia Colman and Juliet Stevenson. The BPG Best Actor award has gone to Sir Alec Guinness, Albert Finney, Kenneth Branagh, Colin Firth, Charles Dance, Robert Hardy, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Ecclestone, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dominic West among others. A list of all the BPG Awards winners, year-by-year with some gaps, is Here:

A list of the BPG’s chairs throughout its 40-year history is Here:

They are bookended by Guardian journalists. Peter Fiddick, the paper’s first media editor, was the Guild’s first chairman. John Plunkett is the current BPG chairman.