The Secret World wins at Radio Academy Awards 2014

Monday 12th May 2014, 10:51pm


The Secret World. Copyright: BBC.The results of the 2014 Radio Academy Awards have been announced. Previously known as the Sony Awards, the prizes are highly sought after in the industry.

Notably, this year all three of the comedy programmes picking up prizes are sketch shows.

The Secret World, Radio 4's impressions-based sketch show, was presented with the Gold award for Best Comedy.

The Secret World, created by Dead Ringers producer Bill Dare, "allows listeners to eavesdrop on the bizarre, surprising and very secret lives of public people who have been caught unaware by the microphone".

The programme's targets include politicians, film stars and celebrities. For example, in the most recent series listeners heard William Hague helping out in a corner shop as he had nothing better to do, Mary Berry dealing with a baking-related dispute between Ray Winstone and Bob Hoskins, and Peter Sallis preparing a track for Lady Gaga's new album.

Jon Culshaw.The Secret World was piloted as part of Radio 4's Happy Mondays pilot strand in 2008. There have been four full series so far, with the actors involved including Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Jon Culshaw (pictured), Julian Dutton, Lewis Macleod, Jess Robinson and Duncan Wisbey.

Speaking about the programme, the organisers explained: "The judges felt that the greatest joy of The Secret World was in the sharpness of the writing and the highly entertaining performances. This wasn't just satire. It was satire with great imagination. Eavesdropping on the imagined lives of the famous, set in fanciful situations, provided the perfect vehicle for the team's excellent impressionist skills which stayed in the judges' minds long after the programme was over."

Referring to one of the recurring sketches in the show, in which the Artistic Director of the Olympic Games was heard solving mundane issues in over-the-top ways, the judges added: "Even Danny Boyle could not have made this anymore fun."

The result was announced at a ceremony at London's Grosvenor House Hotel, hosted by Chris Evans. The other comedy programmes nominated this year were stand-up show Bridget Christie Minds The Gap, BBC Radio Wales sketch show Here Be Dragons, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, and David Quantick's Radio 2 show The Blagger's Guide To Doctor Who.

John Finnemore picked up the Silver award for his sketch show. The judges said: "Radio sketch shows can be 'hit and miss' but John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme provided more laughs in 30 minutes than most shows in this genre, and was definitely a hit with the judges. Clever ideas and the consistently high standard of writing and great jokes, coupled with brilliant performances made this programme worthy of a Radio Academy Comedy Award"

Here Be Dragons. Image shows from L to R: Cariad Lloyd, Sian Harries, Nadia Kamil, Benjamin Partridge. Copyright: John Stanley Productions.Here Be Dragons (pictured), produced by Ben Walker for BBC Radio Wales, took Bronze. The Academy said of the programme: "A fast-paced, funny and infectious sketch show which treated the listener to Daniel Day Lewis' extreme method acting, a soap set in a Welsh laundrette and much more. The writing is superb and for new Welsh writing talent the programme deserves extra praise." Here Be Dragons is currently being repeated, and can be heard on the iPlayer.

Speaking about Bridget Christie's show, the judges said: "Whilst the judges acknowledged that one element of Bridget's comedy is feminism, what actually made this programme stand out was Bridget's wide ranging appeal. She has an ability to engage and to naturally connect to the listener, with tremendous warmth. To find a voice so early in her radio career is remarkable. Above all, it was brave, funny and a little bit silly... we liked that."

The Blagger's Guide To Doctor Who was praised as follows: "The judges felt that this entry combined a great script with excellent production techniques. You didn't have to be a Whovian to find this fast-moving and imaginatively presented programme hugely entertaining, funny and fascinating."

Elsewhere in the awards, Frank Skinner was presented with a Gold Award for Best Speech Programme, for his Absolute Radio show; and Danny Baker triumphed in the Speech Radio Personality of the Year category.

Tony Blackburn was presented with the lifetime achievement award, whilst The Capital Breakfast Show with Dave Berry & Lisa Snowdon came top in the fiercely contested Breakfast Show of the Year category. For a full list of results see www.radioacademyawards.org

Below is an audio clip from the most recent series of The Secret World. It focuses on Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond as he takes his translator on a trip abroad... to England.

Can't see a video here? Watch this clip on bbc.co.uk

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