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Awards celebrate faith in broadcasting

by
06 June 2014

By a staff reporter

ANTONY MEDLEY

Lauded: Lord Bragg receives a personal tribute from the Sandford St Martin Trust at its annual broadcasting awards at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday

Lauded: Lord Bragg receives a personal tribute from the Sandford St Martin Trust at its annual broadcasting awards at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday

THE idea of Christianity is "intermingled with the idea of this country", Lord Bragg said on Tuesday. He agreed "profoundly" with the Prime Minister's view of Britain as a Christian country.

Lord Bragg was speaking after he had received a personal award from the Sandford St Martin Trust at its annual broadcasting awards at Lambeth Palace.

Christianity, had, "in the deepest sense", defined what this country's nature would be. He spoke of the programme he had made about the Bible translator William Tyndale, "the greatest Englishman who has ever lived".

Despite this, the Sandford St Martin awards acknowledged religious diversity in Britain. The Story of the Jews, written and presented by Simon Schama and produced by Oxford Film and Television for BBC2, won two prizes. "Over the Rainbow", episode four of the five-part series, in which Professor Schama considered the fate of the Lithuanian Jews under Nazism, won both the television award and the Radio Times readers' award.

One of the television runners-up was A Very British Ramadan, by Watershed Productions for Channel 4; the other was Hillsborough: Never Forgotten by BBC Religion and Ethics for BBC2.

The Radio Award was won by I Have a Dream, produced by BBC Scotland Features for Radio 4. The broadcast had assembled well-known personalities from around the world (including the Dalai Lama, recorded in the Himalayas), to read Martin Luther King's 1963 speech on its 50th anniversary.

The radio runners-up award went to Married for a Minute, produced by the BBC Asian Network, which looked at the practice of Nikah Mut'ah, temporary marriage, among Shia Muslims.

The Trust this year introduced a new award for local, community, and online productions. It was given to Sounds Jewish: The Jewish Revival in Poland, a podcast produced by JW3: Jewish Community Centre for London for the Guardian website.

Edward Stourton, who chaired the television judges, praised programmes that escaped from the ghetto of religious broadcasting. He was saddened that there was no comedy, no drama, nothing from ITV or Sky, and a dearth of women's voices. The novelist Patrick Gale, who chaired the radio judges, praised programmes that "simply let me listen rather than feel I was being buttonholed".

The Sandford St Martin trustees also made a posthumous award to the late Sir John Tavener for "the outstanding contribution his music has made to raising spiritual awareness, building bridges between people of all faiths and none". Sir Nicholas Kenyon, presenting the award to Lady Tavener, said that the composer had looked beyond religious divisions, "trying to capture the harmony that unites us all".

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