The Society of Authors has announced the 2020 shortlists for the Imison Award for the best original script by a new writer, and the Tinniswood Award for the best audio drama script of the year.
This year’s shortlistees for the 2020 Imison Award include rapper and beatboxer Testament, South African author Colette Victor and poet and pub singer Vicky Foster. The award is presented annually and honours the best original script broadcast in the UK between 1 October 2018 and 31 October 2019. The judges, all members of the Society of Authors’ Scriptwriters Group, were Stefan Buczacki, Jamila Gavin, Nell Leyshon, David Morley, Barney Norris, Hannah Silva, Sean Grundy and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal. The prize of £3,000 is sponsored by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation.
Writers Katie Hims and Ian Martin join James Tait Black Memorial prize winner Tanika Gupta MBE on the shortlist for this year’s Tinniswood Award, designed to recognise the best audio drama script of the year. The judges were Patricia Cumper, Robert Bathurst and Rhiannon Tise. The prize of £3,000 is sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.
Both prizes will be presented as part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards on Sunday 2 February 2020.
Imison Award shortlist
BATHWATER by Vicky Foster | Produced by Sue Roberts, BBC Radio Drama, 44’, BBC Radio 4
The judges said: “It was mesmerising. Incredibly powerful, gripping and a well-written piece that handles domestic violence in an unconventional way. Bathwater is thoughtful and explores inherited trauma well and has beautiful moments. It has great use of the medium and lovely use of language with some memorable phrases. The writing sucks you in, the characters are strong, and it is an intriguing, arresting piece of poetic drama, that explores the way trouble is passed on. It puts an isolated, overlooked world on the airwaves and it does so in a way that makes you really feel for the people it documents.”
Vicky Foster is a poet and pub singer from Hull. Her poetry collection, Changing Tides, is published by King’s England Press. She is the host of Women of Words, which is an event for female performers of poetry, prose, drama, and song.
BY GOD’S MERCY by Colette Victor | Produced by David Hunter, BBC World Service, 53’
The judges said: “Impressive, beautiful, quality writing and a real nugget. This is a well written piece and Colette Victor is one to watch. By God’s Mercy is highly original, clever, ingenious, powerful, and timely. It has good dialogue that paints the scenes well.”
Colette Victor is a South African author who immigrated to Belgium in 2001. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the UK Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. Head over Heart went on to be published by Chicken House the following year. Her adult novel, What to do with lobsters in a place like Klippiesfontein, was one of the runners-up in the 2013 Dundee International Book Prize. Both books are translated into German. Colette has always worked with people from disadvantaged communities.
THE BEATBOXER by Testament | Produced by Gary Brown, BBC Radio 4, 44’
The judges said: “An interesting depiction of the world of beatboxing. The Beatboxer is original and witty.”
Testament is a rapper, beatboxer and theatre maker based in West Yorkshire. He is a supported artist of The Royal Exchange Theatre. His credits include performances on BBC, MTV, BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1txra. He also holds the Guinness World Record for leading the world’s largest Human Beatbox ensemble. Testament won the BBC Urban Music Talent Award in 2007 and has since worked with a diverse range of artists from Corinne Bailey Rae and Soweto Kinch to US legend, DJ KoolHerc. Theatre credits include: Black Men Walking, Eclipse & Manchester Royal Exchange.
Tinniswood Award shortlist
DEATH OF A MATRIARCH by Tanika Gupta | Produced by Polly Thomas, Naked Productions, 30’, BBC Radio 3
The judges said: “Death of a Matriarch is lyrical, evocative writing perfectly suited to the exploration of intimacy which audio drama does so effectively.”
Tanika Gupta has written over 20 stage plays for major theatres across the UK and extensively for BBC Radio drama, as well as television and film. In 2008 she was awarded an MBE for Services to Drama and in 2016 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Tanika has an honorary doctorate in the Arts from University of Chichester and is an Honorary Fellow at Rose Bruford College and Central School of Speech and Drama. In 2018, Gupta was awarded with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Drama for her play Lions and Tigers. Tanika is currently under commission with National Theatre Scotland and the Royal Court Theatre and is developing a musical project with Universal Music Group. She is also working on an original television series with Meera Syal for Douglas Road/ Artists Studio and the BBC and is also writing a feature film for Altitude Films.
THE HARTLEPOOL SPY by Ian Martin | Produced by Sam Ward, BBC Studios, 45’, BBC Radio 4
The judges said: “The Hartlepool Spy is a tale of moral corruption, of self-interest defeating the interests of justice; it is based on a true story and yet the author’s research is worn lightly. It is hilariously, delicately told; the characters are both comic and chilling. Ian Martin’s exciting dialogue fizzed along; it is completely engaging.”
Comedy writer Ian Martin was a writer for the BAFTA-winning political satire The Thick of It, starting a long-running association with producer Armando Iannucci, which continued with the Oscar-nominated In The Loop. Martin was a writer-producer on HBO’s VEEP (for which he won two WGA Awards and an Emmy) and a co-writer for the BAFTA-nominated feature The Death Of Stalin. He is a writer and supervising producer for the forthcoming HBO space comedy Avenue 5. Martin is the author of several books including Epic Space and The Coalition Chronicles, and has written for the Architects’ Journal, the Guardian and the New Statesman.
HOME FRONT: A FRAGILE PEACE by Katie Hims | Directed by Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama, 75’, BBC Radio 4
The judges said: “Beautifully written and incredibly evocative. Celebrating the unique qualities of radio drama. The reader/listener is completely immersed in the world of these characters. A superb finale to an excellent series.”
Katie Hims’ first radio play The Earthquake Girl won the Richard Imison Award. Recent work includes King David, Black Dog, Poetry in Motion and Black Eyed Girls, as well as adaptations of the Martin Beck novels. Katie has been writing for Radio 4’s Home Front since it began and has been lead writer for four seasons. Her stage play – Billy the Girl at Soho Theatre for Clean Break – led to an attachment to the National Theatre Studio and a subsequent commission to write a National Theatre Connections play, Variations. She has just finished adapting Middlemarch for Radio 4 and has a commission with Unicorn Theatre.