Awarding £3,000 for the best original script by a writer new to radio, this year’s Imison Award shortlistees are The Making of a Monster by Connor Allen, The A-Z of Things: M is for Mussels by Lara Barbier and Knock of the Ban Sithe by Kenny Boyle.
The award was judged by members of the Society of Authors’ Scriptwriters Group: Ben Carpenter, Imogen Church, Trish Cooke, Jamila Gavin, Sean Grundy, David Morley, Barney Norris, Robin Mukherjee and Rhiannon Tise.
Oliver Emanuel, Katie Hims, Linda Marsahall Griffiths and Anita Sullivan are the shortlisted writers for this year’s Tinniswood Award, which is organised by WGGB and The Society of Authors to recognise the best audio drama script of the year. The Tinniswood Award judges this year were Vickie Donoghue, Nicholas McInerny and Natalie Mitchell.
The Imison and Tinniswood 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. The 2023 awards are for a drama broadcast or made available online in the UK between 1 October 2021 and 31 October 2022.
Both awards will be presented as part of the BBC Audio Drama Awards on Sunday 19 March in the Radio Theatre.
The Imison Award
The Imison Award was founded in memory of BBC script editor and producer Richard Imison. Previous winners include Faebian Averies, Fraser Ayres, Vicky Foster, Lulu Raczka, Adam Usden, Mike Bartlett, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Lee Hall and Nell Leyshon. We would like to thank all producers, writers and agents who have entered the awards, and the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for their support.
The Tinniswood Award
The Tinniswood Award was established by Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The Society of Authors to perpetuate the memory of Peter Tinniswood as well as to celebrate and encourage high standards in radio drama. Previous winners include the late Sonya Hale, Christopher Douglas, Ian Martin, Sarah Woods, Oliver Emanuel, Morwenna Banks, Mike Bartlett, and Colin Teevan. Find out more.
We are very grateful to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for their generous sponsorship, including the £3,000 prize.
The 2023 Imison Award shortlist
The Making of A Monster by Connor Allen
Produced by Emma Harding, BBC Audio Drama Wales, 43’46”, BBC Radio 4 | Listen here
Connor is a bright, mixed-race Newport teenager, but his life is in danger of spiralling out of control, fuelled by his confusion and despair over who he is and why his father is largely absent from his life. Autobiographical drama about second chances, written and performed by Welsh Children’s Laureate, Connor Allen.
The judges said:
The Making of a Monster is a well-shaped play with an important message. It is inventive, heartfelt and bold. We thought it was believable and painted the scene well and overall was both compelling and moving especially as it’s not something we get to hear much about at all.
Connor Allen is the current Children’s Laureate of Wales and associate artist of The Riverfront in Newport. Former member of the BBC Wales Welsh Voices and Welsh Royal Court writing groups. He has written for Wales Millennium Centre, BBC Radio 4 and more. He was a Jerwood Live Work Fund recipient and won the Rising Star Wales Award 2021.
The A-Z of Things: M is for Mussels by Lara Barbier
Produced by Becky Ripley, BBC, 30’ BBC Radio 3 | Listen here
Margo is pregnant and she can’t stop eating mussels. The hard shells are shaped like blue-black tears, gifted from mother to daughter. They speak of sorrow. They speak of the sea…
The judges said:
M is for Mussels is beautifully structured, tender, funny, unexpected and vulnerable. It has many great moments, and we liked the poetry of it alongside the internal dialogue. The whole thing was very atmospheric.
Lara Barbier is a Cornwall-based screenwriter working across TV, Film, Radio and Video Games. She is currently part of Channel 4 TV Drama New Writers Scheme West & South West, developing an original TV drama with Red Planet Pictures and a feature film script for Standoff Pictures backed by fFilm Cymru.
Knock of the Ban Sithe by Kenny Boyle
Produced by Bruce Young, BBC Audio Drama Scotland, 44’, BBC Radio 4 | Listen here
A contemporary ghost story based on Gaelic folklore. Three siblings return to the family croft on the Isle of Lewis to visit their dying mother – but their childhood home is haunted by unsettling memories and fears as they wait through the night for the arrival of the dreaded Ban-Sithe.
The judges said:
We loved the use of Gaelic and use of language. It’s an atmospheric ghost story with some good moments. We liked its ambition and the interweaving of family, memory, folklore and language.
Lewis born writer and actor Kenny Boyle trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is best known as the lead in feature film Lost At Christmas and for his novel The Tick And the Tock of The Crocodile Clock. In 2020 he was the recipient of a New Playwrights’ Award for Playwrights’ Studio Scotland.
The 2023 Tinniswood Award shortlist
A Close Approximation of You by Oliver Emanuel
Directed by Kirsty Williams, 57’, BBC Radio 4 | Listen Here
Michael’s love of mirrors isn’t narcissism. A theoretical physicist, his job is to explore the possibility that there is a mirror version of our world somewhere. His girlfriend, Kay, is a photographer. Whilst in Greenland Kay gets a call. Michael’s been killed in a road accident. When the police give her Michael’s possessions, they include a woman’s compact mirror. It’s not something Kay recognises. There’s some kind of code etched on it. Who did it belong to? What was her relationship to Michael? What does it all mean?
The judges said:
This was a wonderful genre mash-up of a play – part psychological thriller, part meditation on memory, part drama of ideas – but always a tender and moving love story. It is also a story that could only be told on radio – a thrilling example of how the form still offers hugely exciting possibilities.
Oliver Emanuel is an award-winning playwright based in Scotland. He has written extensively for audio over the past 15 years. Credits include: The Tenderness of Boys, When the Pips Stop, The Truth About Hawaii and A History of Paper. Awards include: Tinniswood Award 2019; Best Series at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2019; Best Adaptation at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2016. Oliver founded the MLitt in Playwriting & Screenwriting at the University of St Andrews with Zinnie Harris.
Waterloo Station by Katie Hims
Directed by Mary Peate, BBC Radio Drama London, 44′, BBC Radio 4 | Listen Here
Two strangers look back on an incident on a train a couple of years ago, just before Covid turned the world upside down. As they do so, they take stock of what’s happened over the last two years.
The judges said:
This was a beautifully written two hander. Witty yet moving and deeply affecting in its simplicity – which highlights the talent and craft of the writer. A real snapshot of the collective experience and collective grief so many of us went through during the pandemic.
Katie Hims is a prolific, multi-award-winning audio dramatist with an impressive body of work including numerous original dramas and adaptations. Original dramas include Black Eyed Girls (winner of a BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Original Drama), Lost Property (winner of a BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Original Drama) and The Gunshot Wedding (winner of a Writers’ Guild Best Radio Drama Award). Dramatisations include Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Country Girls, Middlemarch and The Martin Beck Killings (from the seminal Swedish detective series). She was lead writer on Radio 4’s award-winning First World War series Home Front. Recent theatre includes Variations for National Theatre Connections; Three Minutes After Midnight for the Globe Theatre and The Stranger on the Bridge at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory. Her new stage play The Trial of Josie K opens at the Unicorn Theatre later this month.
Strings by Linda Marshall Griffiths
Directed by Nadia Molinari, BBC Audio Drama North, 89′, BBC Radio 3 |Listen Here
The Longyears spacecraft, with its five-person crew, is on a mission to launch into the future by entering interconnected cosmic strings. Once in the time dilation they will await a wave-beacon from NASA that will indicate the moment to return to a future ravaged Earth where the doomsday vault that they carry on board can be utilised and re-introduced to save the human race. However, as the ship enters the cosmic strings and is propelled into a time dilation, time itself begins to complicate.
The judges said:
This was an ambitious play exploring huge themes and ideas, forcing us to think about our future and the outlook for our planet. The use of sound and the minimal quality of the language created an eerie piece that wore its genre lightly and felt frighteningly plausible.
Linda Marshall Griffiths is a multi-award winning radio and stage writer. She has written numerous original dramas for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3 including the award-winning This Changeling Self, The Sky is Wider, The Invisible and Orpheus and Eurydice, and three podcast series of the climate change piece, No Place But the Water. She has dramatised novels by Virginia Woolf, Henry James, DH Lawrence, John Irving and has an upcoming dramatisation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in 2023. Her theatre work has won a Pearson Playwriting Bursary and been a Finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Yale Drama Series and MEN Best New Play.
End of Transmission by Anita Sullivan
Produced by Karen Rose, Executive Producer Rosalynd Ward, Sweet Talk Productions, 57′, BBC Radio 4 | Listen Here
Today is Jude’s 50th birthday. She has lived with HIV for over 20 years and has unresolved questions. Only the virus knows the answers. The virus takes her on a transmission journey skipping across continents, centuries, decades and diverse hosts to meet the person who gave her HIV.
The judges said:
This script was the definitive story about this subject for radio. The writer cleverly uses the form to be adventurous in their storytelling, taking us across eras, continents, and bodies as they weave personal, informative, and true stories together to give multiple perspectives. A beautiful and moving script that is also brave and bold in its uniqueness.
Anita Sullivan is an award-winning audio dramatist. Anita’s first play Full Blown was shortlisted for an Imison Award and became a successful stage play. She has since had over 60 scripts broadcast or staged; her adaptation of An Angel at My Table won Best Series at the BBC Audio Drama Awards in 2013. She is also a digital storyteller, creating interactive narratives for VR and gamified worlds.