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Embargo: 20:00hrs, Wednesday June 7, 2017  Actress Sally Phillips’ moving BBC Two documentary about Down’s Syndrome, A World Without Down’s Syndrome?, has picked up two awards at the Sandford St Martin Awards for religious broadcasting it was announced tonight at a star-studded ceremony at London’s Lambeth Palace.

Made by Dragonfly Film and Television and shown on BBC Two to public and critical acclaim in October 2016, the film saw Sally Phillips examine the implications for society of a new 99% accurate test for Down’s syndrome.  The programme won not only the award for best TV but also beat an eclectic list of nominations to snap up the Radio Times Readers’ Award, voted for by readers of the magazine.

Chair of the TV judging jury Daniel Pearl, Deputy Head of News and Current Affairs, Channel 4, said: “The judges found this deeply personal programme 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.”


Tom Loxley, Executive Editor, Radio Times added: ‘This year’s Radio Times Readers’ shortlist tackled the fun, farce, fear and facts of human life in all its variety, complexity and ordinariness. But Sally Phillips’ one-off documentary stood out as a powerful and personal programme that demonstrated that ethical issues are never abstract, as she explored them through her relationship with her son, Olly.’

In the Radio category the winning programme was BBC Radio Wales’ All Things Considered – Aberfan 50 Year AnniversaryMade by BBC Wales, Religious Programmes Team, the show saw Roy Jenkins examine how the disaster affected the lives and faith of the people in the small mining community of Aberfan.

From the Radio jury, journalist and editor Nicola Meyrick, said: “In the midst of so much coverage of the fiftieth anniversary, this beautifully-constructed, moving programme was all the more powerful for its thoughtful, quiet approach.”


Triumphing in the Interview category was BBC News’ Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani for An Extremist in the Family. Chair of the Interview jury, award-winning broadcaster Aasmah Mir, said: “The winning entry really made us all sit up and pay attention. It was original. Moving. Important. It drew us in and kept us listening. Another story of radicalisation but one that was told in an empathetic and engaging way while still remaining impartial and detached.”


The only non-BBC winner on the night was in the Children’s category, where CCTV Limited’s documentary for Refugee took the honours.  Chair of the Children’s jury, David Almond said:  “Amongst all the delights on offer within the shortlist, the judges felt that one entry – a drama – stood out for its insightful storytelling. It showed a family escaping from a war zone, becoming refugees. Along with an ambitious, action-packed script and clever use of flashbacks, it really does show how it would be if it happened to us and not to a ‘stranger’, not to another from another place. It brings the world into our own home.”

And, on a night of success for the BBC, the prestigious Trustees’ Award was presented to

BBC Radio 4’s long-running discussion programme The Moral MazeJames Purnell, the BBC’s Director of Radio and Education presented the award to the programme team and presenter Michael Buerk sent this message: “The Moral Maze is a very special part of the BBC. It’s a highest common factor programme in an increasingly lowest common denominator world. It’s a cockpit for live argument about the rights and the wrong of the burning issue of the week. There’s nothing quite like it even on marvellous Radio 4. I’m very proud of it.”


Commenting on the night, Rt. Rev Nick Baines, Lord Bishop of Leeds, the Trust’s Chairman said: “These winners emerge from a very strong field this year. They explore a range of matters of huge importance in how we want to shape and order our society. I am delighted that these winners do not close down an issue, but, rather, open up a much wider debate.”

The Sandford St Martin Awards are designed to promote excellence in religious broadcasting, and to champion distinctive journalism and programming that intelligently interprets the world through a religious lens. The Trust encourages and advocates for religious literacy by researching current trends and attitudes as well as providing training throughout the year.


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