ITV's flagship arts programme The South Bank Show held its ninth annual South Bank Show Awards at the Savoy Hotel in London. The Awards, conceived by the show's editor and presenter Melvyn Bragg, reward ten categories spanning the entire spectrum of the arts in the UK. Reporting of this year's awards was headlined by the story of a soap opera (Coronation Street) winning the Best TV Drama category. It is the first time that this award, traditionally associated with high-brow arts products, has been given to a soap opera. The South Bank Show Awards also introduced a new Breakthrough Award, in conjunction with the national newspaper The Times. This award recognises rising British talent and is awarded from a shortlist drawn up by the newspaper's critics in each of the ten existing awards categories. Readers of The Times then vote for the shortlisted nominees.
Meanwhile at the BBC, a rival TV station to ITV, the BBC Four World Cinema Awards were also announced this week. This award is open to world cinema (non-English language films) and was selected by a panel that included included X Files actress Gillian Anderson, critic Roger Clarke and Touching the Void director Kevin McDonald. Jonathan Ross, presenter of the BBC1 film show Film 2005, was involved in both the panel deliberations and as host of the awards ceremony.
In both cases, these awards boosted the profile and industry standing of the TV shows at least as much as they did the winners of each category. Hosting and/or sponsoring awards is a tried and tested way of establishing authority and status within an industry, sector or niche. Well done Melvyn, Jonathan, and your respective teams.