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Sally Phillips’s Down’s documentary wins two religious broadcasting awards

09 June 2017


Double winner: Sally Phillips with Halldóra, one of the few people in Iceland with Down’s

Double winner: Sally Phillips with Halldóra, one of the few people in Iceland with Down’s

A COMEDIAN’s “deeply personal” film about Down’s syndrome has won two of the country’s top awards for religious broadcasting.

In the documentary A World Without Down’s Syndrome?, broadcast on BBC2 last year, Sally Phillips explored the implications of a new and more accurate test for Down’s syndrome through her relationship with her son Olly, who has the condition (News, 21 April). The programme, which included interviews with health-care professionals, parents, and scientists, won the TV Award and the Radio Times Readers’ Award at the Sandford St Martin Awards at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday.

The chairman of the TV judging panel, Daniel Pearl, who is deputy head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, described it as a “deeply personal” film that was “genuinely revelatory. It was a fresh approach to a subject we all thought we understood, and both moved the judges and left us all feeling very different about the subject. It was beautifully made, with wit and a lightness of touch.”

The winning programme in the Radio category was All Things Considered: Aberfan 50-year anniversary, made for BBC Radio Wales, in which Roy Jenkins examined the impact of the disaster on the lives and faith of people in the community. The interview category, for which the Revd Kate Bottley was a judge, was won by Dominic Casciani, the BBC News home-affairs correspondent, for An Extremist in the Family. In the interview, he spoke with Nicola Benyahia, whose son, Rasheed, died after going to join Islamic State in Syria.

The only non-BBC winner was in the Children’s category: Refugee, a documentary by CCTV Limited for TrueTube.co.uk. The Trustees’ Award went to Radio 4’s long-running discussion programme The Moral Maze.

One of the judges for the Radio category was Nicola Meyrick, a journalist and editor. She spoke of a “difficult time for religious programming. At a time of budget cuts, and living as we do in a society where increasing numbers of people define themselves as irreligious, we might ask whether programmes which take religious questions seriously still have much of a role to play, and also whether there are enough journalists and programme-makers who understand and are interested in faith.”

I’m pleased to say that being a Sandford St Martin judge has answered both those questions, for me, with a resounding ‘yes’.”

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, who chairs the Sandford Trust, said that the winners “do not close down an issue, but, rather, open up a much wider debate”.

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