Writers behind some of last year’s most critically acclaimed works have been honoured at the 2020 Writers’ Guild Awards ceremony, including Danny Brocklehurst, Shola Amoo, Season Butler, Gillian Juckes and Jimmy McGovern. Awards also went to the writers of the Danger Mouse animated series, the 1930s-set adventure game Over the Alps, and BBC Radio 4’s innovative immersive sci-fi thriller podcast, Forest 404.
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain announced the winners for its prestigious awards across 16 categories in film, television, radio, theatre, comedy, books and videogames, at the illustrious ceremony which took place at the Royal College of Physicians in London.
Hosted by writer, comedian and actor Katy Brand (Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show, Comedy Lab Slap), the awards honoured the cream of British writing talent in front of an audience from a wide range of creative industries, and an array of guests including WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE, Samira Ahmed, Simon Beaufoy, Jonathan Harvey, Rufus Jones, Sally Lindsay, Lisa McGee, Nigel Plaskitt with Hartley Hare and Michael Spicer.
Comedy writer and actor John Finnemore was presented with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Writing award by David Tyler who has produced many of his radio comedies. Finnemore’s extensive career has seen him write multiple comedy shows for radio and television, including That Mitchell and Webb Sound, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Dead Ringers, Safety Catch, John Finnemore, Apparently, The Now Show and The Unbelievable Truth. He also co-wrote the podcast David Mitchell’s Soapbox with David Mitchell.
Amongst his many credits for BBC Radio 4, Finnemore has written and performed in John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, as well as Cabin Pressure and Double Acts, both for which he won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Radio Comedy in 2011 and 2017 respectively. He has also won more Comedy.co.uk Awards for writing than anyone else to date.
On receiving his Outstanding Contribution to Writing award, John Finnemore said ‘Receiving this award from the WGGB, and therefore from fellow writers, is deeply gratifying… and utterly astonishing. So, to whoever it is they’ve given it to me in mistake for: I’m very sorry for you, but good luck trying to get it back off me now.’
Multi award-winning Danny Brocklehurst won Best TV Situation Comedy for his Sky One smash hit Brassic, which was presented to him by Paula Wilcox, while Michael Spicer awarded Caroline Moran and James J Moran with the Best Radio Comedy accolade for their BBC Radio 4 sitcom Prepper, which sees a pair of women preparing for a zombie apocalypse.
Best Online Comedy was awarded to Hannah George and Tasha Dhanraj for their BBC Three sketch titled Side Effects of the Pill, which was presented to them by John Finnemore; the second time the pair have received the accolade, having picked up last year’s gong.
Best Short Form TV Drama went to Gillian Juckes and Jimmy McGovern for their moving and real-life inspired, award-winning BBC One drama Care, which was presented to them by Peter Bowker, and Sophie Petzal received the Best Long Form TV Drama accolade from Danny Brocklehurst for her gripping Channel 5 Irish drama Blood, Series 1, Episode 6.
The Best Radio Drama award went to Timothy X Atack for his BBC Radio 4 thriller Forest 404, set in the 24th century, which was presented to him by Jake Yapp. Set in the 24th Century in a world where forests have been erased from history, Forest 404 is stars Pearl Mackie, Tanya Moodie and Pippa Haywood – with original music by Bonobo
Shola Amoo was awarded Best Screenplay by Rowan Joffe for his semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film The Last Tree, while Harry Wootliff received the Best First Screenplay award from Simon Beaufoy for her critically acclaimed debut feature film Only You.
The Best First Novel award went to Season Butler for her acclaimed debut Cygnet, which was presented to her by Jonathan Harvey, while Nigel Plaskitt and Hartley Hare handed the Best Children’s TV Episode accolade to Ciaran Murtagh and Andrew Barnett Jones for children’s classic Danger Mouse, Series 2, Episode 39, ‘Melted’.
Samira Ahmed presented Best Play to Ross Willis for his debut Wolfie, which looks at life in and after the care system, while Poppy Burton-Morgan won the Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting for her acclaimed In The Willows – The Hip Hop Musical, a vivid, 21st century reimagining of the much-loved children’s novel The Wind in the Willows, which was presented to her by WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE.
Daniel Ward received the Best Play for Young Audiences accolade from Kumiko Mendl for his semi-autobiographical The Canary and the Crow, the award-winning grime and hip hop-inspired gig theatre production, about the journey of a working-class black kid who’s accepted to a prestigious grammar school.
Sally Lindsay presented Roanne Bardsley, who has been nominated in the category previously, with the award for Best Long Running TV Series for Hollyoaks (Episode 5013), while Jon Ingold, Katharine Neil and Nick Bush won Best Writing in a Video Game for Over the Alps, a narrative thriller seeing gamers race through picturesque Switzerland of 1939, receiving the award from Antony Johnston, which is only available on Apple Arcade.
Host Katy Brand said of the event ‘I am thrilled to have hosted the WGGB Awards 2020 this evening, not least because it means I spent an evening with the best writers in the world without having to worry about winning anything myself. I just enjoyed the immense throb of talent in the room, and hopefully helped make the evening entertaining, inclusive, and a celebration of all the outstanding work of the past year – congratulations to all the deserved brilliant winners.’
WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE said ‘Congratulations to all the Writers’ Guild Awards 2020 winners, it’s a sheer joy just to be in a room amongst such wonderful writers. These ridiculously talented people have kept us entertained throughout the year with their brilliant writing, they have brought us much needed tonic during these challenging times, and we have been spoilt rotten by their wonderful creations!’
During the ceremony former WGGB Chair Gail Renard and current Deputy Co-Chair William Gallagher paid tribute to Peter Nichols and Terrance Dicks, plus other WGGB members who had sadly died the previous year.
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is the lead sponsor of the 2020 Writers’ Guild Awards. Other sponsors are BBC, ITV, Company Pictures, Script Angel and Nick Hern Books.
WRITERS GUILD AWARD 2020 WINNERS
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Outstanding Contribution to Writing: John Finnemore
Best Online Comedy: Side Effects of the Pill by Hannah George and Tasha Dhanraj
Best Long Running TV Series: Hollyoaks (Episode 5013) by Roanne Bardsley
Best Writing in a Video Game: Over the Alps by Jon Ingold, Katharine Neil and Nick Bush
Best Children’s TV Episode: Danger Mouse, Series 2, Episode 39, ‘Melted’ by Ciaran Murtagh & Andrew Barnett Jones
Best Radio Comedy: Prepper by Caroline Moran & James J Moran
Best Long Form TV Drama: Blood, Series 1, Episode 6 by Sophie Petzal
Best First Novel: Cygnet by Season Butler
Best First Screenplay: Only You by Harry Wootliff
Best Radio Drama: Forest 404 by Timothy X Atack
Best Play for Young Audiences: The Canary and the Crow by Daniel Ward
Best Play: Wolfie by Ross Willis
Best Screenplay: The Last Tree by Shola Amoo
Best TV Situation Comedy: Brassic by Danny Brocklehurst
Best Short Form TV Drama: Care by Gillian Juckes and Jimmy McGovern
Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting: In The Willows – The Hip Hop Musical by Poppy Burton-Morgan
• The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing writers for TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, comedy, animation and videogames | Web: www.writersguild.org.uk | @TheWritersGuild #wggbawards
• The Writers’ Guild Awards, which launched in 1961, give professional writers from across Great Britain the opportunity to honour their peers, and celebrate the importance of writing to the creative industries, both nationally and abroad. They also recognise the importance of the WGGB’s work in preserving freedom of speech. The 2020 Awards eligibility criteria was work broadcast, performed or released between 01 October 2018 and 29 September 2019.
• Full info about the awards, including a short history plus full archive of previous winners, can be found at: writersguild.org.uk/category/awards