Two local talents of TV and film, casting director Shaheen Baig and actor Richard Armitage, were presented with Baird Medals at the RTS Midlands Television Awards in late November.
Birmingham-born Baig, who cast shows including Peaky Blinders and Man Like Mobeen, was awarded the Baird Medal for Off-screen work by Mobeen actor Tolu Ogunmefun.
Armitage, who starred in The Hobbit and most recently Netflix’s Obsession, received the Baird Medal for On-screen work. It was presented by real-life SAS soldier Billy Billingham, chief instructor on Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins.
The actor grew up in Leicestershire but moved west, training in Coventry. His first job was at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre in The Hobbit, which he would later star in on the big screen. He revealed his second very small TV role was in BBC soap Doctors and he expressed regret at its recent axing.
Armitage said of the evening: “There was so much talent in the room. I’m very proud of the diversity of this region – that’s one of the greatest things about the Midlands.”
The diversity and inclusiveness evident on the night was one of the highlights of the awards, mentioned movingly by several winners who expressed their thanks at being recognised by the RTS.
Talisha “Tee Cee” Johnson took home the Diversity Champion award for her documentary Too Autistic for Black, while Khurrum M Sultan won the Director award for long-running ITV drama Vera.
Bhulla Beghal from BlueBell Films, a child of deaf parents, was awarded the Creative Community award for going into a primary school for deaf children and helping them to make films.
Nick Owen, who currently presents BBC Midlands Today, received the On-screen Personality award. The guests at the ceremony were treated to a special highlights reel and tribute from his friend Bob Warman to celebrate his 50 years in broadcasting.
In the journalism categories, Channel 4 News Communities Editor Darshna Soni was named Journalist of the Year, while BBC East Midlands Today took home the News Programme award for its report on the Nottingham attacks, in which three people were killed.
The ceremony, attended by more than 400 people, was held at the ICC in Birmingham, and hosted by BBC Radio Leicester broadcaster Summaya Mughal and Heart West Midlands DJ Ed James.
RTS Midlands Chair Kully Khaila said: “The Midlands is in the midst of a huge change in television production. New studios are opening in Birmingham; prime-time drama, animation, children’s content are returning to the region. The RTS Awards in the Midlands reflect and celebrate this ever-changing landscape.”
Sponsors of the awards included Sunbelt Rentals, the University of Worcester, Clear Cut Nations and Regions and BritAsia TV.