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2021 Imison and Tinniswood Award Audio Drama Shortlists

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ADRIAN WHITE

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From peer pressure and gaslighting to crime and coercion – announcing the 2021 Imison and Tinniswood Award audio drama shortlists.

The eight shortlisted writers include Holby City writer Becky Prestwich, award-winning actor, writer and director Fraser Ayres, MA screenwriting graduate Isaac Fisher & more – part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards.

Awarding £3,000 for the best original script by a writer new to radio, this year’s Imison Award shortlistees are Maynard by Fraser Ayres; LoveSick by Ella Skolimowski; and Scoop McDoolie by Isaac Fisher. The Award was judged by members of the SoA’s Scriptwriters Group: Ian Billings, Stefan Buczacki, Ben Carpenter, Jamila Gavin, David Morley, Barney Norris, Hannah Silva and Sean Grundy.

This year’s Tinniswood Award (£3,000) shortlistees – for the best audio drama script of the year – are Just the Three of Us by Becky Prestwich; Tristram Shandy: In Development by Christopher Douglas; This Thing of Darkness (episode 7) by Anita Vettesse; and Shrapnel by Isabel Wright. The judges this year were Nicholas McInerny, Ian Martin and Rex Obano.

The Tinniswood and Imison Awards are presented each year as part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards and are administered by the Society of Authors and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Both awards will be presented as part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards in an online ceremony on Friday 26 March (date TBC).

The Tinniswood Award is sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and the Imison Award is sponsored by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation.

The 2021 Imison Award shortlist

Lovesick by Ella Skolimowski

Produced by Julius Beltrame, Apple Podcasts, 60’/ 9 episodes Click to listen

The judges said: “The judges found this work displayed a bold use of the monologue to hold attention and create surprise. It was consistently funny, well and tightly written, carefully structured and created intrigue by straddling the boundary between audio drama and short story.”

Ella Skolimowski is an Irish-Polish writer and performer. Originally from London, she has lived in Dublin since 2018. Ella writes for the theatre on contemporary social issues, especially themes relevant to the Irish diaspora and the lived experiences of women. She loves generating theatrical experiences that will make people think and laugh. Her first play Driving Me Crazy was included in the New Theatre Dublin’s New Writing Week, 2019. She was a co-lead in Follower Count, her second play, an extract from which was presented at Smock Alley Theatre as part of the Scene + Heard festival in 2020. Her short, Pandemic Panic!, was included in the New Theatre Dublin’s Fightback Festival in 2020. In October 2020 she began publishing LoveSick, her first serialised audio drama.

 Maynard by Fraser Ayres

Produced by Mel Harris (Sparklab Productions), BBC Radio 4, 44’

The judges said: “Maynard. A strong, emotional and assured piece of writing. Its characters are all clearly defined with high stakes and believable dialogue that is both sharp, hits its targets and is full of humour. It captures the location and voices of Black Brixton compellingly and builds to a great conflict and shocking outcome. It clearly conveys the socio-political implications of crime, peer pressure and the pull of family ties, and is written by someone who cares about this world. A great read.”

Fraser Ayres is an award-winning actor/writer/director as well as CEO and founder of The TriForce Creative Network; an organisation set up in 2003, with a core ethos of ‘inclusivity’, promoting equal opportunities in the entertainment industry. Fraser developed his writing skills on BBC dramas such as Doctors and EastEnders and is lead writer on Idris Elba’s In the long run for Sky. He is currently writing several projects including a CBBC show, an original comedy for UKTV based on his own life experiences and several radio dramas focusing on the hidden history of Jazz. Fraser also created Sorry, I Didn’t Know – an all-inclusive, comedy panel show, focusing on Black History. In his spare moments, Fraser studies ‘books that he really shouldn’t’, plays with Lego and also teaches a variety of one to one subjects including: Yoga, Reiki, Meditation and Mindful Breathing.

Scoop McDoolie by Isaac Fisher

Produced by Naala Vanslembrouck, Apple Podcasts, 32’ Click to listen

The judges, said: “A witty script, with bags of energy, that was well written for the medium of sound.”

Isaac Fisher is an MA screenwriting graduate from Met Film School, London. He grew up in Wakefield, and the experience of having grown up in a rural, working-class town forms is an influence across his work. He has written several short films, winning multiple international awards and qualifying for a number of festivals. The most notable of these, the Scene It Awards 2020, saw his short script Bitter officially selected alongside Academy Award winning Skin and Palme D’Or nominated A Drowning Man. His TV pilot The Other Side of the Coin was recently recognised in the top 13% of entries to the 2020 BBC Writers Room Comedy window. His current portfolio consists of three features, two TV pilots and shorts scripts.

The 2021 Tinniswood Award shortlist

Just the Three of Us by Becky Prestwich 

Produced by Pauline Harris, BBC Radio Drama North, 45’, BBC Radio 4

When a grandmother is denied contact with her only grandchild, she discovers the stark truth of how her daughter’s partner is controlling their lives.

The judges said: “A gripping account of the gaslighting and coercion of a young widow turns into something quite special, as the marginalised Gran’s past illuminates the story from an unexpected angle.” 

Becky Prestwich is a Manchester-born and bred writer. She is a regular writer on Holby City and Doctors. She has written four Afternoon Dramas for BBC Radio 4, has written for BBC Radio 3 and has developed an original crime drama with Lime Pictures. As a playwright, she specialises in work with community casts and in non-traditional theatre spaces, including Chip Shop Chips (Box of Tricks Theatre) and Under the Market Roof (Junction 8 Theatre). She is currently writing a new audio-drama to be performed by the Young Octagon in celebration of the reopening of the Octagon, Bolton.

Tristram Shandy: In Development by Christopher Douglas

Produced by Gary Brown, BBC Radio Drama North, 60’, BBC Radio 4

A drama workshop is taking place at the east London studios of award-winning indie AwesomeSauce! The project is Laurence Sterne’s 300-chapter-long, absurdist satire. There is a draft script, and three seasoned radio actors have been hired, for £80 each, along with a hyperactive impressionist. The director, who prefers to style herself an ‘audio drama-maker’, has set herself the task of re-inventing the moribund form of radio drama. A boxset star has been cast in the title role but his flight from Corfu is delayed, so reading in as Tristram is Rosie the spot effects woman.

The judges said: “This hilarious play takes the ultimate shaggy dog story by the scruff of the neck and shakes some new and wonderful nonsense into it. Part satire, part homage and total re-boot, it wears its knowledge lightly as we romp through the ‘recording’ of Sterne’s novel in a series of brilliant, laugh-out-loud stories that are deliciously entertaining throughout. A terrific achievement.”

Christopher Douglas is the voice of Ed Reardon in the long-running Radio 4 series which he also co-writes. Ed Reardon’s Week won the Broadcasting Press Guild’s award for Best Radio Programme in 2005 and 2010. He also voices and co-writes the ill-chosen words of Dave Podmore, a Radio 4 regular since 2000 and previously a Guardian columnist. Other radio writing credits include three series of Beauty of Britain (starring Jocelyn Jee Esien), two series of Mastering the Universe with Dawn French, several dramas and a recent adaptation of New Grub Street. TV writing credits include three series of masterclasses hosted by Nicholas Craig (Nigel Planer). Books include a biography of D R Jardine; stage work includes Ed Reardon: A Writer’s Burden, An Evening with Nicholas Craig and Scout’s Honour.

This Thing of Darkness, episode 7, by Anita Vettesse, with monologues by Eileen Horne

Produced by Kirsty Williams and Gaynor Macfarlane, BBC Radio Scotland, 43’43”, BBC Radio 4

This Thing of Darkness is a seven-part serial co-written by Anita Vettesse and Lucia Haynes with monologues by Eileen Horne. It features a small cast of characters and focuses on intense, long scenes intercut with the comments and insight of a forensic psychiatrist. In a fresh approach to crime, it’s not a murder mystery but is instead a gripping exploration of why murder occurs in human society and of how victims and killers come to terms with the impact of fatal violence. In this final episode, the killer’s identity is finally revealed with devastating consequences for the victim’s sister.

The judges said: “This beautifully written play explores the psychological impact of the violent murder of a young man on his family. Through the help of a prison forensic psychiatrist, the truth of the murder is revealed, but this is a painful listen.  However, the writers skilfully take us on this journey by capturing the myriad of human emotions relating to the characters’ darkest moments. The compelling nature of the play and the sheer brilliance of the writing enables the listener to think carefully and objectively about the processes of prisoner rehabilitation.”

Anita Vettesse is an actor-writer based in Glasgow. She’s currently writing the second series of This Thing of Darkness as well as scripting BBC Scotland’s continuing drama River City. Other work includes Falling for BBC Radio Scotland and You Really Got Me Going as part of The Break series for BBC Three/Writersroom. Her theatre work includes: Ringroad, nominated for Best New Play at The Critics Theatre Awards, Happy Hour and From the Air for Oran Mor and The Slumber Sisters for Catherine Wheels/National Theatre of Scotland. She is currently the John Mather Trust Award’s writer-in-residence at the National Theatre of Scotland.

Eileen Horne is an American author and dramatist. Published work includes historical non-fiction, journalism and Italian translation, as well as several works for radio, among them original dramas The Lost Sister, In Here and She Said/He Said, as well as the literary adaptations Love Virtually, The Mysterious Death of Jane Austen (co-written with Andrew Davies), and Renaissance Man. Her next book, The Devil You Know, co-written with Dr Gwen Adshead, describes the work of one of Britain’s leading forensic psychiatrists and will be published this spring by Faber & Faber.

Shrapnel by Isabel Wright 

Produced by Gaynor Macfarlane, BBC Radio Scotland, 43’30”, BBC Radio 4

Having escaped from a war-torn city, reporter Nadine assumes that she can handle anything. But she’s struggling – loud noises remind her of explosions and crowds seem full of suicide bombers. She is also coming to terms with the death of her lover Rafa, the photographer on the assignment who was killed in an explosion she believes she caused. Turning to Donna, a specialist in PTSD, she just wants to be fixed. But that means understanding that her mind is still under siege. And it also means confronting the truth about what really happened.

The judges said: “Writing at its most taut. This thrilling account of a war correspondent navigating the collateral damage of her mind is a tour de force, powerful and brilliant.”

Isabel Wright is a playwright based in Edinburgh. Daniel was recently part of the Play, Pie and A Pint Spring Season in Glasgow. Other plays include Speedrun (Tron), Blooded (Boilerhouse), Peepshow (Frantic Assembly), Gilt (7-84), Mr Placebo and 15 Seconds (Traverse). Recent productions include Whatever Gets You Through the Night (Pachamama), Blind Eye for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and The Illicit Dark for the Stephen Joseph Theatre. She took part in the Double Acts project on BBC Radio 4, for which she co-wrote an Afternoon Drama and works as a script consultant and playwriting mentor, as well as a workshop leader in a variety of school and community settings.

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