RTS Programme Awards 2023
The winners have been announced for the RTS Programme Awards 2023, in partnership with Audio Network.
The winners were crowned at the prestigious awards ceremony hosted by comedian Tom Allen at London’s JW Marriott Grosvenor House.
Guests in attendance included Kate Winslet, Billie Piper, Sarah Lancashire, Martin Freeman, Charlie Brooker, Sharon Horgan, Daisy May Cooper, Huw Edwards, Gaby Roslin, Claudia Winkleman, Stephen Merchant, Susan Wokoma, Gabby Logan, Jack Thorne, Ade Adepitan, Kit Connor, Jordan Banjo, Adeel Akhtar and many other incredible names from the world of UK television.
Across the 30 categories, the BBC reigned with 17 wins, three of which were for the hit comedy series Am I Being Unreasonable? and Channel 4 followed with six wins, with Derry Girls recognised across two of the categories: Scripted Comedy and Writer - Comedy. Other series that received wins across multiple categories included BBC’s The Traitors for Entertainment and Entertainment Performance, BBC’s Sherwood for Drama Series and Adeel Akhtar for the brand-new Supporting Actor – Male category.
New for 2023, the Supporting Actor – Female award was presented to Ambika Mod for BBC and AMC’s This Is Going to Hurt, and the inaugural Comedy Drama award was given to Sky’s Brassic. In addition, BET UK celebrated its first ever RTS award, taking home the win in the Arts category for The Evolution of Black British Music.
In addition to the 30 competitive categories, Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer at the BBC was presented with the prestigious Judges’ Award, for leading the BBC through one of the most momentous years in history with what the judges described as, “an exceptional combination of steadfast level headedness, confidence and creative flair”. For the Outstanding Achievement Award, actor and producer Sarah Lancashire OBE (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax) was celebrated this evening for not only her outstanding talent and intelligence, but her total commitment and dedication to the television industry.
Chair of the Awards, Kenton Allen, said: “2022 was a phenomenal year on and off screen. We introduced new categories for Comedy Drama and Supporting Actors to further reflect the incredible range and diversity in the scripted world and I'm thrilled to say that we saw a sensational response, with all of the nominees and winners reflecting an incredible range of creative excellence. As we come together to honour the genre-defining programming from the past year, I am also delighted to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the sensational Sarah Lancashire and reveal that the Judges’ Award goes to Charlotte Moore for the incredible leadership she has provided the BBC in a remarkable year for innovation, creativity and seismic current affairs. Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners this evening, you are the best of the best and we salute you.”
Arts: The Evolution of Black British Music
Breakthrough Award: Lenny Rush
Children’s Programme: Dodger
Comedy Drama: Brassic
Comedy Entertainment: Friday Night Live
Comedy Performance (Female): Daisy May Cooper
Comedy Performance (Male): Lenny Rush
Daytime Programme: Loose Men
Documentary Series: Gazza
Drama Series: Sherwood
Entertainment: The Traitors
Entertainment Performance: Claudia Winkleman
Formatted Popular Factual: Gogglebox
History: Our Falklands War: A Frontline Story
Leading Actor (Female): Kate Winslet
Leading Actor (Male): Kit Connor
Limited Series: Mood
Live Event: The State Funeral of HM The Queen Elizabeth II
Presenter: Ramita Navai
Science & The Natural World: The Green Planet
Scripted Comedy: Derry Girls
Single Documentary: The Tinder Swindler
Single Drama: Life and Death in the Warehouse
Soap and Continuing Drama: Casualty
Sports Presenter, Commentator or Pundit: Ade Adepitan
Sports Programme: Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Supporting Actor - Female: Ambika Mod
Supporting Actor - Male: Adeel Akhtar
Writer – Comedy: Lisa McGee
Writer – Drama: Lucy Prebble
Judges’ Award: Charlotte Moore
The Judges’ Award is presented to an executive who has led our national broadcaster through one of the most momentous years in its history…and who has done so with an exceptional combination of steadfast level-headedness, confidence and creative flair.
In the BBC’s centenary year, its Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore navigated the Corporation’s television output through a particularly difficult time for our nation. It was the year we began to emerge from the pandemic, there was unprecedented political turmoil in Downing Street and in the Autumn came the death of Her Majesty. Add to all that, the war in Ukraine and a cost-of-living crisis, and it was a year few of us will forget. It’s said that in times of national upheaval viewers turn to the BBC – and so it proved in 2022. At the helm, Charlotte tore up the regular schedules to make way for programming to cover every unfolding story as it happened, responding immediately and appropriately to the nation’s need to be informed as well as entertained.
It was also a year of great triumphs for BBC Television, as we’ve seen tonight. There was thrilling sporting coverage with the World Cup, the Women’s Euros and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games; there was The Responder and Sherwood, an improvised episode of Casualty, a second Frozen Planet with Attenborough, and breakout new hit The Traitors; there was the BBC Three relaunch, the casting of a diverse Doctor Who, the Platinum Jubilee Party at The Palace and the fiftieth year of Newsround. And important to remember that all of this was planned, commissioned, and produced under the challenging conditions of the pandemic.
It was the year too in which Charlotte showed the BBC’s commitment to television from the regions was real - Morning Live relocated to Manchester, the first BBC Comedy Festival landed in Newcastle, Masterchef announced a move to Birmingham, and Eurovision is heading for Liverpool. Programmes made in all corners of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales as well as England all filled the schedules.
But it was during the events which began on September 8th that most of us turned to the BBC. From the ominous sign of Huw Edwards wearing a black tie on that dark Thursday afternoon, to Kirsty Young’s personal reflections at the end of the funeral coverage…they were twelve days that BBC Television had of course anticipated for many years – but when the moment came, the plan was carried out to utter perfection.
Through it all, Charlotte’s been an outstanding leader for the BBC’s content. She’s championed it, defended it, pushed it to be the best it can be. And while doing all that, she’s remained approachable and accessible…always keen to find the next show that will resonate with viewers, always determined to make the next turn of the wheel.
Outstanding Achievement Award: Sarah Lancashire OBE
Sarah Lancashire first caught the nation’s attention on the evening of 25th January 1991, the night that Raquel Wolstenhulme made her earliest appearance in Coronation Street. Raquel was a checkout assistant in Weatherfield’s local supermarket, but such was her impact in the show that before long Raquel had become a barmaid and was pulling pints of Newton and Ridleys in the legendary Rovers Return.
In many ways Coronation Street was the perfect beginning for Sarah’s career on television. She grew up just a few miles away from Granada’s studios, and after training at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama she returned to live and work in the North, teaching at Salford University between theatre jobs. She knew the North – she knew its people, its speech rhythms. And she brought all of that to Raquel. As a foretaste of what was to come later in Sarah’s career, in Raquel she created a character that transcended the image of the bottle-blonde barmaid – she gave the audience someone they really believed in, had empathy with, and felt they knew. She made Raquel complex. She made her a real person.
Little wonder then that on the night of Raquel’s last appearance in Coronation Street, twenty million viewers tuned in. They’d fallen in love with Sarah’s performance. It was the
first sign of a special relationship that would develop between Sarah and the viewing audience – one in which they felt deep affection and respect for her work. Three decades on, it’s stronger than ever.
Sarah has said to me on a number of occasions that she never ever watches her own performances. She must be the only person left in the country who doesn’t!
Sarah followed Coronation Street with three seasons of the Sunday night series Where The Heart Is, and then took on a great variety of roles in some of the most popular dramas on television. She starred opposite John Thaw in The Glass, and alongside Billy Connolly in Gentleman’s Relish; there was Clocking Off, Seeing Red, The Rotters’ Club, and Rose and Maloney. There was classic period drama too – Sons and Lovers, Oliver Twist and Wuthering Heights.
Sarah was strongly attracted to contemporary roles that really challenged her as an actor, parts which pushed her into difficult places – including real life roles, like that of Rosemary Nicholls, mother of one of the Ipswich serial murder victims…or Angela Cannings, who was wrongfully convicted of killing her two baby sons. Another challenging role came in 2018 in Jack Thorne’s Kiri, in which Sarah played Miriam, the disorganised social worker for a girl who is abducted and murdered. Difficult characters to play, difficult places to inhabit.
In 2012 came the first series of Last Tango In Halifax, in which Sarah played Caroline – the school headteacher in a same-sex relationship with fellow teacher Kate, and a role for which Sarah won major critical acclaim. Her performance was all about Caroline’s humanity which ensured the character truly resonated with viewers. Last Tango was also Sarah’s first work to be written by Sally Wainwright. They would go on to collaborate on the amazing Happy Valley, which Sally wrote specifically for her…the perfect alchemy of the right character for the right actor from the right creator.
Happy Valley has gone on to become a colossal hit and that rarest of beasts these days – a show we wait for so eagerly we actually watch it at the time it transmits. In police sergeant Catherine Cawood, Sarah’s given us one of the defining characters of contradictory psychological complexity for our times. Love and guilt, despair and pain, weakness and courage – it’s all there in Catherine’s character, all beautifully realised in Sarah’s performance.
And then most recently came Julia, HBO’s mini-series about America’s pioneering TV chef Julia Child, and a world as far away from Happy Valley as it’s possible to get. So total was Sarah’s transformation into Julia Child, it was impossible to believe this was the same actor we’d just watched laying down the law in the bleak landscapes of West Yorkshire. But that’s what Sarah does. She inhabits each character she plays with utter integrity. She takes the audience into that character’s reality and shows them the world from the character’s point of view.
And she does it supremely well, not only with outstanding talent and intelligence, but also with total commitment and dedication. She’s the consummate screen actor, the real deal. What a privilege it’s been for us all to watch her performances on television over the decades.