RTS Programme Awards 2017

Julie Walters (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Awards Ceremony

Tuesday, 21 March, 2017


The winners of the 2017 RTS Programme Awards in partnership with Audio Network have been announced.

The awards recognise programmes which have made a positive contribution to their genre through their originality, innovation or supremely high standard, and from which other programme makers can learn and develop. These criteria of originality, creative risk-taking and standard setting quality apply to the performance as well. 

This year sees some significant changes following discussions with judges and entering companies:

  • Drama – Drama Serial has been renamed Mini-Series.  Mini-Series is for single-run drama series that are not intended to return.  Drama Series is for returning dramas.
  • Children’s Programme – we have increased the number of entries permitted per channel from four to six, of which two must have been produced by independent production companies
  • RTS Channel Of The Year – we have introduced a new RTS Channel Of The Year award, which may be delivered on any or many platforms, be in linear or VOD in form, and be free-to-air, subscription or pay-per-view
  • Performance categories – entrants in the actor, presenter, performer and breakthrough categories may only be put forward for their work on a single programme title.


Actor - Female: Sophie Okonedo

Title: Undercover
Production Company: BBC Studios in co-production with BBC America
Broadcaster: BBC One
Jodie Comer - Thirteen
Julie Walters - National Treasure

"A riveting performance, she brought strength, a raw vulnerability and humanity in every scene."

Actor - Male: Robbie Coltrane

Title: National Treasure
Production Company: The Forge
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Adeel Akhtar - Murdered By My Father
James Nesbitt - The Secret

“Outstanding, the very definition of creative risk-taking.”

Arts: Grayson Perry All Man

Production Company: Swan Films
Broadcaster: Channel 4
One Night In 2012: An Imagine Special

“Intelligent and moving…the greatest example of an unpatronising, empathetic and compassionate programme.”

Breakthrough: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Title: Fleabag
Production Company: Two Brothers Pictures
Broadcaster: BBC Three
Nadiya Hussain - The Chronicles of Nadiya
Phillip Wood - Chasing Dad: A Lifelong Addiction

“A creative risk-taker who succeeds at being both compelling and truly distinctive; genuinely moving their genre forward and clearly destined to be one of the great stars of the future.”

Children's Programme: CBeebies A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Production Company: CBeebies Production
Broadcaster: CBeebies
Lily's Driftwood Bay
My Life: The Boy on the Bicycle

“Setting new standards in television for young viewers. Hugely ambitious but with plenty of fun.”

Comedy Performance: Asim Chaudhry

Title: People Just Do Nothing
Production Company: Roughcut Television
Broadcaster: BBC Three
Steve Coogan - Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle
Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney - Catastrophe

“Contemporary and relevant, with beautiful layers of detail.”

Daytime Programme: Find it, Fix it, Flog it

Production Company: HCA Entertainment and Yeti Media
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Matron, Medicine and Me: 70 Years of the NHS
The Question Jury

“Based in reality but with plenty of take-out for the viewer…a stand-out success in the category.”

Documentary Series: Exodus: Our Journey to Europe

Production Company: KEO Films
Broadcaster: BBC Two
Inside Obama’s White House
The Murder Detectives

“An ambitious undertaking from concept to execution, which delivered a unique and evocative insight we had never seen before.”

Drama Series: Happy Valley

Production Company: Red Production Company
Broadcaster: BBC One
Line of Duty 3
The Durrells

“A series that manages to be real and deeply human, with subtle compassionate writing and exceptional performances across the board.”

Entertainment: Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

Production Company: ITV Studios and Mitre Television
Broadcaster: ITV
Strictly Come Dancing

“Beautifully executed series, giving audiences a thrilling and extravagant weekly treat.”

Entertainment Performance: Adam Hills, Alex Brooker & Josh Widdicombe

Title: The Last Leg
Production Company: Open Mike Productions
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Anthony McPartlin & Declan Donnelly - I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
Romesh Ranganathan - Asian Provocateur: Mum’s American Dream

“Witty, highly engaging and never less than extraordinary.”

History: The Aberfan Young Wives' Club

Production Company: Shiver Cymru
Broadcaster: ITV
Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes
Saddam Goes To Hollywood

“Popular history at its best – sensitive, rigorous and authentic. It also managed to be profoundly moving, taking viewers right to the emotional heart of the story.”

Live Event: Stand Up to Cancer

Production Company: Princess Productions
Broadcaster: Channel 4
The Centenary of the Battle of the Somme
The Sound of Music Live!

“Genuinely innovative…an event which reinvented its genre.”

Mini-Series: National Treasure

Production Company: The Forge
Broadcaster: Channel 4
London Spy

“Brilliant writing and stunningly crafted direction.”

Popular Factual and Features: Employable Me

Production Company: Optomen
Broadcaster: BBC Two
First Dates
SAS Who Dares Wins

“Told contributors’ stories in an intelligent and highly respectful manner.”

Presenter: Grayson Perry

Title: Grayson Perry All Man
Production Company: Swan Films
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Sir David Attenborough - Attenborough and The Giant Dinosaur
Richard Ayoade - Travel Man 48 Hours In Vienna

“He has his own unique style; strong and moving, with an astonishing depth and a real sense of ownership of his subject.”

RTS Channel of the Year: BBC Three

Channel 4

“Individual and daring. Their new slate challenges the perceptions of standard programmes, and the quality bar is set extremely high.”

Science and Natural History: First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon

Production Company: Ronachan Films and Pacha Films
Broadcaster: Channel 4
The Hunt: The Hardest Challenge
The Secret Life of 4, 5 & 6 Year Olds

“A real first for this genre with unforgettable, revelatory footage. The narrative never shied away from big ethical questions.”

Scripted Comedy: People Just Do Nothing

Production Company: Roughcut Television
Broadcaster: BBC Three
The Windsors

“Extremely funny – honest, contemporary and unlike anything else.”

Single Documentary: The Murder of Sadie Hartley

Production Company: Raw Cut TV
Broadcaster: ITV
The Forgotten Children

“Brave programming. A work of real scale and ambition and a piece of outstanding film-making.”

Single Drama: Murdered By My Father

Production Company: BBC Studios
Broadcaster: BBC Three
A Midsummer Night's Dream

“This was a beautiful piece of work with some fantastic performances at its centre.”

Soap and Continuing Drama: Emmerdale

Production Company: ITV Studios
Broadcaster: ITV

“The cast, crew and production team pulled off an ambitious and extraordinary conceit this year with wonderful production values and highly watchable, unpredictable, rewarding storytelling.”

Sports Presenter, Commentator or Pundit: Osi Umenyiora

Title: Race to Super Bowl 50, NFL This Week, The NFL Show
Production Company: Whisper Films
Broadcaster: BBC Two
Clare Balding - Rio Paralympics
Nasser Hussain

“Charismatic, knowledgeable, versatile and passionate about sport, with an understanding of how to appeal to both seasoned devotees and new fans alike.”

Sports Programme: Rio Paralympics

Production Company: Sunset + Vine
Broadcaster: Channel 4
England v Pakistan T20 International
The Open

“They hooked us with brilliant storytelling and the most fantastic sporting content. The coverage continues to break new ground all the time.”

Writer - Comedy: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Title: Fleabag
Production Company: Two Brothers Pictures
Broadcaster: BBC Three
Stefan Golaszewski - Mum
Graham Linehan, Sharon Horgan, Helen Linehan, Holly Walsh - Motherland

“Writing that became a standard-setter for new comedy – brutally honest, painful and revealing…but ultimately, exquisitely funny.”

Writer - Drama: Sally Wainwright

Title: Happy Valley
Production Company: Red Production Company
Broadcaster: BBC One
Jed Mercurio - Line of Duty 3
Jack Thorne - National Treasure

“Quite simply a masterclass in writing. Just perfect and entirely authentic.”

Judges' Award: Sally Wainwright


“Sally Wainwright is a writer of outstanding distinction, having created some of the finest dramatic television on British screens of the last few years.

She cut her teeth as a writer working alongside others like Paul Abbott, Russell T Davies and Kay Mellor at Granada in the early 1990s; honing her craft during five years writing for Coronation Street. She describes that time as a formative period in her career, teaching her the lesson that creating truly great stories is always hard work.

Sally’s Yorkshire roots, and her unerring ability to write the rhythms and cadences of a Northern accent, are frequently evident in her work. Suburban Leeds was the setting for the first major series she created, At Home with the Braithwaites, in 2001. It became a big hit for ITV.

Since then viewers have sought out Sally Wainwright’s work on television in their millions. Over the last decade, her output has been prolific: Jane Hall, Bonkers, Sparkhouse, Scott and Bailey, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, Unforgiven, The Last Witch, Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley and her television film about the Bronte Sisters, To Walk Invisible – all drew big ratings and critical acclaim.

So what is it about Sally Wainwright’s writing that seems to engage so directly with audiences? One actor who works with her regularly said it’s her ability to balance character and plot so brilliantly, where other writers might sacrifice one for the other. Another actor identified her unquestionable skill for allowing strong female characters to define themselves so fully in her work.

As well as writing, Sally has assumed greater creative control of her work by executive producing and now directing some of her pieces too. She has clearly earned her status as one of the most significant creatives working in British television drama today, and it is for these reasons that she is the winner of this year’s Judges’ Award.”

Julie Walters (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Lifetime Achievement: Julie Walters


“The recipient is one of the truly great stars of the stage and big screen, but it’s for her outstanding work in a glittering career on television that we honour her tonight.

Her journey to television began in 1970 with a chance meeting at Manchester Polytechnic with the woman who was to become her creative soul mate, Victoria Wood. Nine years later she appeared in the television adaptation of Wood’s play Talent, which led to the two of them starring in their own sketch comedy series. Many further years of incredible collaboration and peerless comedy followed.

Her work alongside Victoria Wood in Victoria Wood – As Seen on TV continues to be rightly regarded as some of the best comedy ever on British television. Has a woman carrying two bowls of soups across a room ever been funnier? The series also included, of course, the recurring spoof serial Acorn Antiques, and Mrs Overall was quickly established as one of the great comic creations of our times.

But this performer’s celebrated comedy skills mask her extraordinary dramatic range. Her work on television has included BBC Shakespeare; appearing in two series of Alan Bennett’s monologues Talking Heads; playing the anti-permissive society campaigner Mary Whitehouse; an Emmy Award-winning depiction of the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam; and a truly unforgettable performance as the reforming headteacher Marie Stubbs in the drama Ahead of the Class in 2005.

Perhaps the first time everyone sat up and really took notice came in 1982 when she played Angie Todd in Alan Bleasdale’s ground-breaking series about Liverpool in the grip of the Thatcher recession, Boys from the Blackstuff. It was a performance that’s seared into the memory of everyone who saw it. One scene in particular caught the mood of the times – a moment of fightback amid frustration, when everything looked desperate. It’s significant moment too, perhaps, because it is based upon the two elements this actor brings to all her dramatic work – it is profoundly touching, and it feels true.

Look at any of the work stretching back over three decades, and those characteristics are there in every piece: Pat and Margaret, Murder, G.B.H, A Short Stay in Switzerland, The Wife of Bath, Indian Summers and National Treasure.

Hers is, by any measure, a body of work on television of genuinely exceptional quality.”