Writers’ Guild Award winners 2019

Writers behind some of 2018’s most critically acclaimed works were honoured at the 2019 Writers’ Guild Awards on Monday 14 January 2019 in a special ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in London to mark the union’s 60th anniversary.

Hosted by writer and actor Joanna Scanlan (Getting On, No Offence), the prestigious event honoured the cream of British UK writing talent in front of an audience from a broad range of creative industries.

Screenwriter and playwright Heidi Thomas was presented with the coveted Outstanding Contribution to Writing Award. Thomas was presented by Dame Pippa Harris in honour of her illustrious body of work and career, which includes creating and writing the BBC One smash-hit drama Call The Midwife.

Accepting the award she said she felt “incredibly honoured to be honoured by an organisation like the Writers’ Guild”, which for 60 years has meant writers had been “listened to and looked after, and that’s incredibly important.” She concluded by saying that “people need stories… people need to be transported… people need to feel that their lives matter… let’s look after each other because that’s what writing is all about.”

It was a big night for celebrating female writers, who were represented in 9 of the 16 awards across theatre, TV, radio, comedy, books and videogames. This is particularly significant given the findings of independent research commissioned by WGGB in 2018 and launched alongside the union’s Equality Writes campaign. The shocking figures revealed that only 16% of all working screenwriters in film in the UK are female and the percentage of UK TV episodes that were predominantly female-written stood at just 28%. This dips to only 14% for women writing for prime-time TV, and just 11% in comedy.

The ceremony also saw the launch of a new category – Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting, which was won by Tom MacRae for Everybody’s Talking about Jamie. Jenifer Toksvig, Co-Chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee, said: “The creation of a book that can be woven together with a score is a unique and complex craft, and one that is often overlooked in favour of the somewhat shinier songs. We are delighted to be acknowledging and celebrating great bookwriting.”

During the ceremony WGGB Chair Gail Renard and Comedy Chair Dave Cohen paid tribute to television host and leading comedy writer Denis Norden CBE and radio and television scriptwriter Ray Galton, plus other WGGB members who sadly passed away in the last year.

Host Joanna Scanlan said of the event: It’s an honour to host the Writers’ Guild Awards.  The event is a wonderful opportunity to recognise and celebrate the writing talent we have.  There have been so many amazing pieces of work across all disciplines and it is thrilling to see new stories from writers established or brand new being celebrated. It is especially encouraging to see women writers scooping a number of the awards for their brilliant and entertaining work, highlighting that it’s about time that there is more equality for women writers.”

WGGB President Olivia Hetreed said: “Sixty years on from the founding of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain it is thrilling to see that British writing and British writers are in such great shape, with a fantastic array of winners across all disciplines. And in the year of our Equality Writes campaign, highlighting the long term failure to give women writers equal access to film and TV work, it’s impressive to see so many female winners in all categories as well as to celebrate the success of Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas for her Outstanding Contribution to Writing.”

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) was the lead sponsor of the 2019 Writers’ Guild Awards. Other sponsors were  BBC, ITV, Company PicturesNick Hern Books and Silver Reel.

A full list of winners and presenters follows (you can see the shortlist here):

Outstanding Contribution to Writing

Heidi Thomas

Presenter: Dame Pippa Harris

Best Online Comedy

Where Are You From? The Game by Hannah George and Tasha Dhanraj

Presenter: Doon Mackichan

Best Long Running TV Series

Coronation Street, Episode 9451/2 by Jonathan Harvey

Presenter: Peter Bowker

Best Writing in a Video Game

Reigns: Her Majesty by Leigh Alexander

Presenter: Dan Pinchbeck

Best Children’s TV Episode

Free Rein – Episode 207 Bob by Vicki Lutas and Anna McCleery

Presenter: Debbie Moon

Best Radio Comedy

Sarah Kendall: Australian Trilogy Volume 2 – Part 1 – ‘Seventy-Three Seconds’ by Sarah Kendall

Presenter: Paul Mayhew Archer

Best Long Form TV Drama

Killing Eve, Episode 5, I Have A Thing About Bathrooms by Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Presenter: Stephen McGann

Best First Novel

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Presenter: Sheena Kalayil

Best First Screenplay

Apostasy by Daniel Kokotajlo

Presenter: Tom Williams

Best Radio Drama

Stone by Alex Ganley, Martin Jameson, Vivienne Harvey, Cath Staincliffe and Richard Monks

Presenter: Tim Stimpson

Best Play for Young Audiences

Beginners by Tim Crouch

Presenter: Roy Wiliams

Best Play

Gut by Frances Poet

Presenter: Roy Wiliams

Best Screenplay

American Animals by Bart Layton

Presenter: Jay Parini

Best TV Situation Comedy

Detectorists by Mackenzie Crook

Presenter: Helen Lederer

Best Short Form TV Drama

A Very English Scandal by Russell T Davies

Presenter: Josie Lawrence

Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting

Everybody’s Talking about Jamie by Tom MacCrae

Presenter: Samuel Adamson

Read more about the Writers’ Guild Awards including a history and archive of winners since the awards were launched in 1961.

Photos by Matt Writtle