Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards 2023 announced

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) has revealed the winners of its 2023 Awards, including an Outstanding Contribution Award to British playwright David Edgar.

Winners were announced on 16 January 2023 at the Royal College of Physicians in London.

Hosted comedian, writer, musician, actor and presenter Rachel Parris, the awards honour the best of British writing talent over the past year, across 15 categories in theatre, film, TV, radio, theatre, comedy, books, and video-games.

Playwright David Edgar was presented with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution Award, by fellow dramatist and his wife Stephanie Dale.

David Edgar is a multi-award-winning playwright who has had more than 60 of his plays performed on stage, radio, and television around the world, making him one of the most prolific dramatists in the UK, with 37 of his plays having been published. He is an honorary associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has had more plays premiered at the RSC than any other playwright. In 1989 he founded the University of Birmingham’s MA in Playwriting Studies, Britain’s first postgraduate playwriting course, and was later appointed Professor of Playwriting Studies in 1995.

A passionate supporter and champion of new writing, David was architect of the WGGB’s landmark New Play Commission Scheme, launched last year and designed to respond to the decline in new play commissions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a severe impact on the theatre sector, and playwrights working within it. The scheme has enabled 18 playwrights to be commissioned to write new plays. He also served as president of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain from 2007-2013.

On receiving his Outstanding Contribution award David Edgar said: “I believe that every professional writer should be a member of the Writers’ Guild, and I’ve been one for 40 years. Like most playwrights, I couldn’t have sustained a career in the theatre without the terms and conditions we’ve negotiated for all playwrights, which I believe are the best in the world. It’s a huge privilege to be honoured by my union for my work as an activist and as a playwright”.

In playwriting, Ross Willis won Best Play for Wonder Boy, presented by fellow playwright Roy Williams, and collected on his behalf by MD and Commissioning Editor at Nick Hern Books, Matt Applewhite.

The Best Play for Young Audiences was awarded to Vivienne Franzmann for The IT, a darkly comic state-of-the-nation play exploring adolescent mental health and the rage within, the accolade was presented by Charlie Higson and also collected by Matt Applewhite on her behalf.

Rebecca Hall won Best First Screenplay, presented by Emma Ko, for her black-and-white romantic drama film Passing, based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen; her award was collected by her sister Emma Hall. The award for Best Screenplay went to Ben Power for his German-British period spy thriller Munich – The Edge of War based on the 2017 novel Munich by Robert Harris, handed to him by fellow screenwriter and director Tony Grisoni.

Steven Moffat presented Neil McKay with the Best Short Form TV Drama accolade for his television serial Four Lives, which follows the true story of the families of four young gay men who in 2014 and 2015 were murdered by Stephen Port. Best Long Form TV Drama went to Adam Kay for This is Going to Hurt, a BBC medical comedy-drama based on his memoirs by the same name, starring Ben Whishaw as Kay, the award was presented by Helen Lederer and collected on his behalf by James Kay.

Maurice Gran presented Jack Rooke with the award for Best TV Situation Comedy for Big Boys about two mismatched boys who strike up an unlikely friendship when they’re thrown together at university, and the Best Online Comedy accolade went to Michael Spicer for The Room Next Door – Boris Johnson Resignation Speech, his own version of Boris Johnson’s resignation speech, the award was presented to him by Josie Lawrence.

Author John O’Farrell handed Aamina Ahmad with the Best First Novel award for her spellbinding debut The Return of Faraz Ali set in Pakistan during the anarchic late ’60s – a multi-layered tale of family, identity, and the politics of power in a caste-ridden society.

The Best Radio Drama category was awarded to Katie Hims by broadcaster Samira Ahmed for her BBC Radio 4 drama Waterloo Station, while David Quantick won Best Radio Comedy for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Austen, handed to him by fellow WGGB Award winner Michael Spicer.

Best Writing in A Video Game was awarded to Sam Barlow, Barry Gifford, Amelia Gray and Allan Scott for Immortality given to them by Olivia Wood, while the Best Children’s TV Episode went to Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery for Dodger, Episode 9, ‘Dosh’ presented to them by YouTube comedy stars Larry and Paul, with the Best Long Running TV Series accolade going to Toby Walton for Doctors, Episode 5 ‘Hello?’ presented by last year’s Outstanding Contribution to Writing winner Jack Thorne.

WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth said “Congratulations to all the winners of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards 2023. It’s been a wonderful night. It’s always an honour and a pleasure to be in a room full of writers and to celebrate their work across all the mediums, for all audiences. Thank you to all the winners and nominees for your stories and your hard work. And please know that your union will always be there to support and celebrate you.”

This year’s winners join an illustrious list of previous Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards recipients which include Caryl Churchill, Russell T Davies, Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke, Kay Mellor, Spike Milligan, Anthony Minghella, Harold Pinter, Terry Pratchett, Salman Rushdie, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Sir Tom Stoppard, Sally Wainwright, Victoria Wood and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

During the ceremony WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth paid tribute to Kay Mellor, and WGGB Treasurer Gail Renard paid tribute to Eric Chappell, with further tributes to other WGGB members who had sadly died in the last year.

WGGB President Sandi Toksvig OBE rounded off the ceremony with a closing speech congratulating this year’s worthy winners.

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain 2023 Awards – Winners

Outstanding Contribution
David Edgar

Best Play for Young Audiences
The IT by Vivienne Franzmann

Best Play
Wonder Boy by Ross Willis

Best Online Comedy
The Room Next Door – Boris Johnson Resignation Speech by Michael Spicer

Best Long Running TV Series
Doctors, Episode 5, ‘Hello?’ By Toby Walton

Best Writing in a Video Game
Immortality, Sam Barlow, Barry Gifford, Amelia Gray and Allan Scott

Best Children’s TV Episode
Dodger, Episode 9, ‘Dosh’ by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery

Best Radio Comedy
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Austen by David Quantick

Best Long Form TV Drama
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Best First Novel
The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

Best First Screenplay
Passing by Rebecca Hall

Best Radio Drama
Waterloo Station by Katie Hims

Best Screenplay
Munich – The Edge of War by Ben Power

Best TV Situation Comedy
Big Boys by Jack Rooke

Best Short Form TV Drama
Four Lives by Neil McKay

📷 Main photo: Writers Guild of Great Britain Awards 2023 - Stephanie Dale and David Edgar. Photo by Matt Writtle

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