Writers’ Guild Awards winners 2018

The winners of the 2018 Writers’ Guild Awards were announced this evening (Monday 15 January 2018) at a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in London, in front of an audience from a broad range of creative industries.

Hosted by writer and actor Vicki Pepperdine, the prestigious annual red-carpet event has been celebrating the cream of British writing talent since 1961.

British playwright Caryl Churchill was presented with the coveted Outstanding Contribution to Writing Award, which was presented by playwright (and fellow Writers’ Guild Award winner and WGGB member) Lucy Kirkwood, in honour of her illustrious body of work and a career which has spanned over six decades since penning and staging her first play, Downstairs, in 1958 (read an edited extract of Lucy Kirkwood’s speech).

Writing for theatre and radio, Churchill has had her work staged in London and New York, including productions at the Royal Court Theatre, Young Vic and National Theatre, and televised for the BBC. Her works include Ants (1962), Lovesick (1967), The Judge’s Wife (1972), Fen (1983), Three More Sleepless Nights (1980), Serious Money (1987), Mad Forest (1990), The Skriker (1994), Far Away (2000) A Number (2002), A Dream Play (2005), Love and Information (2012) and Ding Dong the Wicked (2013). The dramatist has seen a number of her works recently re-imagined, including Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976), Cloud Nine (1979) and Top Girls (1982), alongside new recent works including Here We Go and Escaped Alone, which premiered in 2015 and 2016.

On receiving her award after a standing ovation Caryl Churchill said she was “overwhelmed” and that it meant a great deal “to be recognised by you my writing colleagues and the Writers’ Guild.”

Alongside Churchill’s recognition, it was a big night for celebrating female writers, who were represented in 9 of the 15 awards across theatre, TV, radio, comedy, books and videogames categories; Best Short Form TV Drama winner Sarah Phelps for the critically acclaimed The Witness for the Prosecution; Best Radio Drama went to Ming Ho for The Things We Never Said; Sarah Kendall took home the award for Best Radio Comedy for Sarah Kendall: Australian Trilogy “A Day In October”; Sheena Kalayil picked up the Best First Novel award for her debut The Bureau of Second Chances; and the winner of the Best Play went to Lucy Kirkwood for The Children, while Sarah McDonald-Hughes scooped the award for Best Play for Young Audiences with How to Be a Kid.

Best Writing in a Video Game was won by Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe together with Tameem Antoniades for dark fantasy action-adventure game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice; and writer Emily Ballou formed part of the writing team alongside Chips Hardy, Steven Knight and Ben Hervey, who picked up the award for Best Long Form TV Drama for the highly applauded drama Taboo.

Other winners included the critically acclaimed Inside No. 9 “The Bill”, written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, which scooped the Best TV Situation Comedy award; Best Screenplay was awarded to Miss Sloane by Jonathan Perera; the Best Long Running TV Series award went to BBC drama Holby City, Series 19, Episode 2 “Rocket Man’” written by Peter Mattessi; picking up the award for Best Children’s TV Episode was Tim Bain for Counterfeit Cat “Room of Panic”; Babak Anvari was awarded Best First Screenplay for Under the Shadow, while Marek Larwood walked away with the Best Online Comedy award for Showreel for One Word or Less Parts.

During the ceremony, comedian Paul Merton and WGGB Chair Gail Renard paid tribute to Steptoe and Son scriptwriter Alan Simpson OBE and dramatist and novelist Rosemary Anne Sisson, plus other WGGB members who sadly passed away in the last year (read Gail Renard’s speech).

Host Vicki Pepperdine said of the event:

As a previous Writers’ Guild Award winner I know how much it means to receive one. The knowledge that your peers have considered your work to be the very best in its class is a great accolade, which writers working in any of the broad range of media recognised by the Guild, would be proud to receive. It has been a great privilege to be invited to host the Writers’ Guild Awards ceremony this year, when once again we honour some truly inspirational writing talent.”

WGGB President Olivia Hetreed said; “The range and quality of talent represented this year has been awe-inspiring and our winners are outstanding in their fields. With the always-inventive and challenging playwright Caryl Churchill taking our highest award it’s especially good to see there are plenty of Top Girls writing today (9 female winners over 15 awards). We are hugely grateful to our sponsors, ALCS, the BBC, ITV, Silver Reel, Lionsgate, Company Pictures and Nick Hern Books for helping us to foster the best of British writing, as they all do in their everyday work.”

Other presenters included Daisy Goodwin, April De Angelis, Helen Lederer, Mata Haggis, Howard Read, Charlie Hardwick, Tony Grisoni, Lisa Evans, Natalie Cutler, Jack Docherty, Brenda Gilhooly and Stefan Booth.

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) was the lead sponsor of the 2018 Writers’ Guild Awards. Other sponsors were BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide, ITV, Company Pictures, Nick Hern Books, Silver Reel and Lionsgate.


Outstanding Contribution to Writing
(Presented by Lucy Kirkwood): Caryl Churchill

Best Online Comedy
(Presented by Jack Docherty): Showreel for One Word or Less Parts by Marek Larwood

Best Long Running TV Series
(Presented by Natalie Cutler): Holby City, Series 19, Episode 2 “Rocket Man” by Peter Mattessi

Best Writing in a Video Game
(Presented by Mata Haggis): Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice by Tameem Antoniades and Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe

Best Children’s TV Episode
(Presented by Howard Read): Counterfeit Cat “Room of Panic” by Tim Bain

Best Radio Comedy
(Presented by Helen Lederer): Sarah Kendall: Australian Trilogy “A Day In October” by Sarah Kendall

Best Long Form TV Drama
(Presented by Stefan Booth): Taboo by Chips Hardy, Steven Knight, Ben Hervey, Emily Ballou

Best First Novel
(Presented by Daisy Goodwin): The Bureau of Second Chances by Sheena Kalayil

Best First Screenplay
(Presented by Tony Grisoni): Under the Shadow by Babak Anvari

Best Radio Drama
(Presented by Nicholas McInerney): The Things We Never Said by Ming Ho

Best Play for Young Audiences
(Presented by Lisa Evans): How to Be a Kid by Sarah McDonald-Hughes

Best Play
(Presented by April De Angelis): The Children by Lucy Kirkwood

Best Screenplay
(Presented by Robert Harling): Miss Sloane by Jonathan Perera

Best TV Situation Comedy
(Presented by Brenda Gilhooly): Inside No. 9 “The Bill” by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton

Best Short Form TV Drama
(Presented by Charlie Hardwick): The Witness for the Prosecution by Sarah Phelps

View a full list of the shortlisted writers.

Listen to Sitcom Geeks’ podcast discussing the comedy winners of the 2018 Writers’ Guild Awards.

All photos: Matt Writtle