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Sandford St Martin Awards celebrate conflict, community, and inclusion

22 June 2023

CTVC for TrueTube.co.uk

Hinduism, Autism and Me

Hinduism, Autism and Me

THE war in Ukraine, sexuality, and autism all feature in the winning entries of this year’s Sandford St Martin Awards, announced on Wednesday evening.

The Awards, which were presented at Whitworth Hall, in Manchester, celebrate excellence in broadcasting about religion, ethics, and spirituality. The winners this year were praised for their presentations of conflict, community, and inclusion.

There are four main prize categories. The winner of the Young Audience Award was Hinduism, Autism and Me made by CTVC for TrueTube.co.uk. The short film tells the story of Abi, described as “a bit different, in many amazing ways” — and how Abi, who identifies as non-binary, experiences day to day life, autism, a love of languages, and the Hindu faith.

The Radio/Audio Award was given to the series Faith, Sex and Me made by Loftus Media for Hits Radio Pride. Broadcast during Pride Month, the series “goes to the heart and soul of sexual identity and faith within the LGBTQ+ community”.

Putin’s Religious War for BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief, presented by Ernie Rae, won the Journalism Award for its exploration of the relationship between politics and the Russian Orthodox Church. And Children of Ukraine, made by Renegade Films Ltd for ITV, described as a devastating account of the conflict in Ukraine through the eyes of children, won the TV/Video Award.

Renegade Films Ltd for ITVChildren of Ukraine

The winner of the 2023 Trustees’ Award, announced a week earlier, was the English screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern. He was recognised for “his commitment to creating challenging, thought-provoking drama that never shies away from exploring belief”.

He is perhaps best known for creating the drama series Cracker (1993-95), and others including Hillsborough, The Lakes, The Street, Accused, and more recently, Broken — the 2017 drama series starring Sean Bean as a Roman Catholic priest in a northern English city, who tries to guide vulnerable parishioners through the trials of everyday life.

The Sandford St Martin Trustees said: “There is arguably no British dramatist who through the brute beauty and valour of his writing has so consistently and successfully captured the complexities of what it is to be a thinking, feeling human being.”

Mr McGovern said: “Religion sounds boring to some and contentious to others. But what it is to me is a wonderful source of stories about what it is to be human and a huge part of many people’s lives.”

Sandford St MartinJimmy McGovernThe award was presented to Mr McGovern by the actor Ricky Tomlinson, who worked with him on the soap opera Brookside (1982-88), Cracker, and the docu-drama Hillsborough.

Mr Tomlinson said: “Jimmy’s an inspiration to the industry. Whatever the subject, he’s never backed down from his responsibility as a storyteller or from giving a voice to the people and community he’s come from. He’s done it with heart and respect, and he’s done Liverpool proud.”

Previous Trustee Award winners include the actor and campaigner Sir Lenny Henry, the Afghan women’s news agency Ruhkshana Media, and the music artist Stormzy.

The Radio Times Readers’ Award, voted for by readers of the magazine, was awarded to Good Grief with the Rev Richard Coles. The Channel 4 programme followed the priest’s journey after the death of his husband.

BBC cuts. In a letter to the Church Times this week, the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr John Perumbalath, and the RC Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Revd Malcolm McMahon, expressed concern at recent BBC proposals to “drastically cut their local radio faith output”.

Earlier this year, the BBC announced that it would cut 48 jobs in local radio, and that the 39 local radio stations in England would have to share more programmes in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends. This included faith output. BBC journalists went on strike in March in protest against the plans.

The Bishops write that the proposals would “threaten the very essence of how faith communities interact”.

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