THE BBC drama Broken, about an inner-city Roman Catholic priest, Fr Michael Kerrigan (played by Sean Bean), has won one of the highest awards for religious broadcasting from the Sandford St Martin Trust.
The winners of the 2018 Sandford St Martin Awards were announced during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on Thursday of last week.
On the judging panel this year were Aaqil Ahmed, a former head of religion at both the BBC and Channel 4; Navid Akhtar, who founded the video channel Alchemiya.com, on Muslim life; and the journalist and broadcaster Remona Aly.
Broken, written by Jimmy McGovern and created by LA productions for BBC1, was named the TV and Radio Times Readers’ Awards Winner, voted for by the public and ratified by the judges.
The drama, first broadcast last June, tells the story of a few days in the life of Fr Kerrigan, who struggles to help a single mother-of-three, Christina, who has lost her job after a series of unfortunate events. He also battles with his own tragedies (TV review, 9 June; Comment, 7 July 2017).
A review in the Radio Times read: “Sean Bean’s turn as a troubled priest in the BBC drama celebrates the best of religion while acknowledging the worst.”
The judges commented: “This was a searingly affective programme which has haunted both critics and audiences. One network commissioner confided to us that she wishes it had come across her desk first and she had commissioned it.”
The Radio Award Winner was BBC Radio 5 Live with Emma Barrett: Stanbrook Abbey, a live broadcast from the working convent in Wass, in the North Yorkshire Moors.
Ms Barnett spoke to the nuns about the choices that they had made: their calling, faith, family, community, and commitment. Listeners were given the chance to text questions to the nuns, from the existential to more mundane concerns, including: “Is that habit itchy?”
The judges said that the programme was “an ambitious and superb example of live radio, featuring all the intimacy and unpredictability this medium has to offer”.
The Radio runner-up was Hardeep’s Sunday Lunch: Inverness (BBC Radio Religion and Ethics for BBC Radio 4). The TV runner-up was ISIS: The origins of violence (Blakeway Productions for Channel 4).
Other winners included, in the children’s category, the comedy drama Screwball! (TrueTube/CTVC for TrueTube.co.uk), and the interview of the year: Heart and Soul: Good without God, about the “diverging paths” of an Evangelical pastor in the United States, Tony Campolo, and his son Bart, a former pastor, who lost his faith after a cycling accident.
The 2018 Trustees’ Award went to Neil MacGregor, who presented the 30-part BBC Radio 4 series Living with the Gods, based on the British Museum exhibition of the same name (Feature, 3 November 2017). Blue Peter received a special 40th-anniversary award.