Radio

The Ghastly Impermanence: The 2013 BBC Audio Drama Awards

Photo by DG Jones
Photo by DG Jones

It is easy to condescend toward awards ceremonies, or even to consider them beneath condescension. Often I have shared that same opinion toward various ceremonies, and with most of them I still do. Such ceremonies are usually nothing more than mutual backpatting and a public advertisement for the medium.

In truth, however, audio drama could use a bit of public advertisement in this country. If I were based in the UK or Europe or Africa, I might feel differently, but being an American makes me particularly sensitive to the chaos of modern audio drama. In organizing this chaos, the BBC is far from a help in general, but at least their nominations for audio drama serve a bit of that function–or, rather, they should. Whether or not they actually do remains to be seen.

I wrote about the BBC Audio Drama Awards last year but without much criticism. This year’s shortlist makes me a bit more critical. Two of the awards for Best Audio Drama are adaptations from other sources. Considering that there is already a category for best play adapted from another source, this suggests there was a paucity of original material written last year–a patently false suggestion. More subtly, it suggests that the BBC values original dramas written for radio less than it did in the past, and that particular suggestion would probably surprise no one familiar with their recent turns in that area.

This year’s list is not filled with outstanding long-time favorites. No David Tennant. No Katie Hims. No Terence Rattigan. No Brian Sibley. The first award ceremony in many ways had the air of a Lifetime Achievement ceremony in certain categories. It was an evening very much of looking backward. This year is very much about looking at the present. Perhaps they shall get to the future in another year.

The BBC have also eliminated the Innovation Award–a fact which tickles my sense of irony. They have made progress, however, in separating the Best Supporting Actor category into Actor and Actress.

Tempting though it is, I will refrain from commenting on individual nominations. It is always easy to quibble with selections based on whatever individual preferences one has. (What? No Jessica Dromgoole productions?) Instead I will simply provide the list and the reader can make up her own mind.

Best Audio Drama (Single Play)
(Judges: Jane Anderson, Fiona Shaw, Ben Stephenson, Vanessa Thorpe)

  • Betrayal by Harold Pinter, produced by Gaynor Macfarlane, BBC Scotland for Radio 4
  • On It by Tony Pitts, produced by Sally Harrison, Woolyback Productions for Radio 4
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig, dramatised by Peter Flannery, produced by Melanie Harris, Sparklab Productions for Radio 4

Best Audio Drama (Series or Serial)
(Judges: Patricia Cumper, Will Gompertz, Lord Hall of Birkenhead)

  • The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll, abridged by Helen Meller, produced by Polly Thomas, Somethin’ Else Productions for Radio 4
  • The Mumbai Chuzzlewits, dramatised by Ayeesha Menon from Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens, produced by John Dryden, Goldhawk Essential Productions for Radio 4
  • Pink Mist by Owen Sheers, produced by Tim Dee, BBC Bristol for Radio 4

Best Actor in an Audio Drama
(Judges: Andrew Davies, Sarah Vine & Nina Wadia)

  • Henry Goodman in James Joyce’s Ulysses, dramatised by Robin Brooks, produced by Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Audio Drama for Radio 4
  • Richard Johnson in Tennyson and Edison by David Pownall, produced by Peter Kavanagh, BBC Audio Drama for Radio 3
  • Andrew Scott in Betrayal by Harold Pinter, produced by Gaynor Macfarlane, BBC Scotland Drama for Radio 4

Best Actress in an Audio Drama
(Judges: Baz Bamigboye, Nick Kent, Stephen Tompkinson)

  • Lorraine Ashbourne in Seven Scenes by Nicola Baldwin, produced by Celia De Wolff, Pier Productions for Radio 3
  • Michelle Fairley in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, dramatised by Donna Franceschild, produced by Kirsty Williams, BBC Scotland for Radio 4
  • Fenella Woolgar in An American Rose by Charlotte Jones, produced by Claire Grove, BBC Audio Drama for Radio 4

Best Supporting Actor in an Audio Drama
(Judges: Matt Hemley, Razia Iqbal, Imogen Stubbs)

  • David Crellin in Craven by Amelia Bullmore, produced by Justine Potter, Red Productions for Radio 4
  • Carl Prekopp in Pilgrim by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, produced by Marc Beeby, BBC Audio Drama for Radio 4
  • David Troughton in Singles and Doublets by Martyn Wade, produced by Cherry Cookson, Rocket House Productions for Radio 3

Best Supporting Actress in an Audio Drama
(Judges: Daniel Evans, Louise Jury, Julie Myerson]

  • Niamh Cusack in The Man with Wings by Rachel Joyce, produced by Gordon House, Goldhawk Essential Productions for Radio 4
  • Gillian Kearney in Songs and Lamentations by Michael Symmons Roberts, produced by Susan Roberts, BBC North for Radio 4
  • Vicky McClure in Kicking the Air by Christine Murphy, produced by Heather Larmour, BBC Northern Ireland for Radio 4

Best Adaptation from Another Source
(Judges: Sebastian Born, Alan Brodie, Susannah Clapp)

  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, dramatised by Tanika Gupta, produced by Nadia Molinari, BBC North for Radio 3
  • The Mumbai Chuzzlewits by Charles Dickens, dramatised by Ayeesha Menon, produced by John Dryden, Goldhawk Essential Productions for Radio 4
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, dramatised by Peter Flannery, produced by Melanie Harris, Sparklab Productions for Radio 4

Best Use of Sound in an Audio Drama
(Judges: Kevin Brew, John Hardy, Jane Thynne)

  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, dramatised by Jane Rogers, produced by Nadia Molinari, BBC North for Radio 4
  • The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat, dramatised by John Fletcher, produced by Marc Beeby, BBC Audio Drama for Radio 4
  • Use it or Lose It by Peter Blegvad, produced by Iain Chambers, Falling Tree for Radio 3

Best Scripted Comedy
(Judges: Hannah Begbie, Bruce Dessau, Christopher William Hill, Alexei Sayle)

  • Alice Lowe’s Wunderland by Alice Lowe, produced by Sam Bryant, BBC Radio Comedy for Radio 4
  • Believe It! by Jon Canter, produced by Clive Brill, Pacificus Productions for Radio 4
  • I, Regress by Matt Berry, produced by Sam Bryant, BBC Radio Comedy for Radio 4

Best Online Only Audio Drama
(Judges: Viv Gardner, Sofie Mason, Stephen Wright)

  • Above and Below, written and produced by Daniel Macnaughton, for Aboveandbelowstories.co.uk
  • The Minister of Chance by Dan Freeman, produced by Dan Freeman for Radio Static
  • Varanasi by Silva Semerciyan, produced by Graham Pountney, Screentest Productions for varanasitheradioplay.com

Imison Award 2012 for Best Radio Drama Script by a new writer
(Judges: Society of Authors Broadcasting Committee)

  • The Day We Caught the Train by Nick Payne
  • Do You Like Banana, Comrades? by Csaba Székely
  • The Takeover by Paul Sellar

Tinniswood Radio Drama Award 2012 for Best Radio Drama Script
(Judges: Meg Davis, Jonathan Myerson, Tim Stimpson)

  • Angarrack by Christopher William Hill
  • Kafka the Musical by Murray Gold
  • Like Minded People by David Eldridge

There it is. If you have not heard any of them…perhaps you should. The BBC will love you for it.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on Sunday 27 January 2013 in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House in central London.

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net