Chair of The Grierson Trust Lorraine Heggessey reveals her relief when the audience joins in at the Griersons. Plus she spills the beans about meeting the Bake Off women for the first time
Off to The Club at The Ivy for Sue Perkins’s book launch of Spectacles. It turns out that Sue had a penchant for kilts as a child. Who knew? The room is full of talented, inspirational women.
I’m thrilled to meet the legend that is Mary Berry, though she, Mel and Sue remain professionally tight-lipped about who is going to win Bake Off. I’m rooting for Nadiya.
Next day it’s back to The Ivy for a meeting with choirmaster Gareth Malone and Jane Callaghan, the wonderful MD of The Grierson Trust. Gareth has kindly agreed to host the Grierson Awards for us this year and I suggest that he gets everyone singing at the start of the ceremony. He’s up for this, although I wonder later whether our audience of documentary-makers and television executives will be as keen.
It’s a good month for the Head of the Channel 4 Growth Fund, Laura Franses, who has secured a deal to back Sacha Baron Cohen and Andrew Newman’s new company. The duo will be working with new talent as they develop comedy shows.
Whether you’re well established or fresh out of college, starting a new company is challenging. I meet up with Renowned Films, the youngest team backed by the Fund, who are celebrating their first broadcast commissions.
Bake Off winner is Nadiya! Hooray! She’s hailed as a great role model for Muslim women, but I love the fact that she says on Woman’s Hour that she represents “stay-at-home mums” and what they can achieve.
At a gala screening of Suffragette, it’s heartening to see a line of women on stage for the Q&A. Meryl Streep says she modelled her performance of Emmeline Pankhurst on a few seconds of silent film. She then proceeds to wow the audience with an impromptu imitation of the footage.
Hats off to producers Alison Owen and Faye Ward, along with director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan for their persistence. It took 11 years to get the film off the ground. Surely, nothing to do with the fact that it’s about women?
It’s good to see the way that on- and off-screen creative talent work across TV and film in the UK. A few days later, I’m gripped by new BBC One drama River, written by none other than Abi Morgan. It’s as close to Scandi-noir as I’ve seen on British TV.
Endemol Shine CEO Sophie Turner Laing is guest speaker at Neil Smith’s “Presidents’ Lunch”. She says it’s only Brits and Americans that have the “not invented here” syndrome. She also has the courage to dismiss the idea of the 100-day plan, as it wouldn’t have given her enough time to get to know such a geographically diverse company.
The night of the Griersons – the 43rd British Documentary Awards – has arrived. Much to my relief, the audience does sing – eventually. Gareth has picked the perfect anthem for the documentary community: John Farnham’s You’re the Voice.
It’s a huge relief to see more women on shortlists and winning awards this year – and to see them take the microphone, unlike last year, when even the indomitable Norma Percy didn’t make an acceptance speech.
In a great moment, director Bruce Goodison defers to his producer Susan Horth, who speaks passionately about Our World War: The First Day. Trailblazer Kim Longinotto, who has spent her career giving exploited women a voice in some stunning films, is given the prestigious Trustees’ Award.
You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear
Lorraine Heggessey is Chair of The Grierson Trust and Independent Advisor to Channel 4’s Growth Fund.