Imison Award 2005

The Richard Imison Memorial Award 2005

--sponsored by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation
For the best dramatic work broadcast by a writer new to radio

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Richard Imison and Peter Tinniswood Awards. These were presented on 8 September by the eminent scriptwriter and novelist Alan Plater.

The Imison Award for best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio went to Steve Coombes for Mr Sex. The Peggy Ramsay Foundation donated the £1,500 prize-money and he was given a year’s membership of the Society and Guild. Neville Teller, Jury Chair, commented:

‘The unusual - though not unprecedented - aspect this year was that, when it came down finally to choosing the best of the three on the shortlist, there was complete, and pretty instantaneous, unanimity on the winner.

Mr Sex is a wonderful piece of writing for radio. The storyline is clean and clear, the dialogue terse and sharp and the characters spring to life in the mind. Listeners cannot but be caught up in the drama of the piece.’

All God’s Children by Robin Mukherjee and Ronnie Gecko by Alexis Zegerman were commended. This was the twelfth award and the first time that all shortlisted authors had been commissioned by one producer - the BBC’s Peter Kavagnah. The Imison judges were: Candida Clark, Edwina Currie, Paul Donovan, Joe Dunlop, Naomi Gryn, Steve May, Tony Staveacre, Neville Teller, Michelene Wandor and Gavin Weightman.

Steve Coombes has a wide experience of writing popular drama for both the BBC and ITV, including Lovejoy, Frank Stubbs, Birds of a Feather and, most recently, BBC3’s Outlaws

Judges are members of the Society of Author’s Broadcasting Committee:

Candida Clark - novelist, arts & cultures editor for the global website OpenDemocracy.net . As a broadcaster she has appeared on Radio 4 (A Good Read, Front Row).

Edwina Currie - novelist and a regular broadcaster on television and radio programmes, including the successful weekend show, Late Night Currie.

Paul Donovan - a radio columnist and previewer for the Sunday Times, he has also
presented or contributed to, programmes on Radios 2, 3 and 4.

Joe Dunlop - writer of many original radio plays including Remember Live Aid, Dangerous Influences and Getting Mad

Naomi Gryn - writer, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker. She broadcasts regularly on BBC World Service, Radio 2 and Radio 4.

Steve May - has won awards for radio and television drama, fiction and poetry. He has written more than 30 plays for BBC R3 and 4 including No Exceptions which won a Giles Cooper award.

Tony Staveacre - a writer and producer, he has worked extensively in radio and from 1987-1997, was a regular producer/presenter of The Radio 2 Arts Programme.

Neville Teller - has 250 abridgements for radio readings to his credit, 150 audiobook abridgements for a variety of publishers, and 50 radio dramatisations.

Michelene Wandor - is a playwright, poet, fiction writer and musician. Her radio plays include Orlando and Friends and Corridors of Light and Shadow (Radio 3).

Gavin Weightman - a writer, producer and contributor of documentary series on both radio and ITV. For two years he was the presenter of The London Programme.

Mr Sex by Stephen Coombes

Mr Sex is the story of how the safest man on the dullest campus in the whole of the American mid-west came to change our world. In 1936, Kinsey was a 38 year old leading light of the Boy Scouts of America and a zoologist at Bloomington, Indiana who had collected a million gall wasps, but still felt he lacked enough data to draw any conclusions. So when the Dean asked him to tutor the sex module on a marriage course for students engaged to be wed, Kinsey insisted on doing a little research of his own to back up his teaching. Fifteen years later, Kinsey had collected 18,000 three hundred page sex-histories and conducted the largest survey of human behaviour ever undertaken. Everything we now know and take for granted about sex was first discovered by Kinsey and his students. Mr Sex is the tragi-comic tale of that journey and how a few boy scout explorers opened up a whole new continent of science.

Steve Coombes has a wide experience of popular drama for both the BBC and ITV, including Lovejoy, Frank Stubbs, Birds of a Feather and, most recently, BBC3’s Outlaws. His first job in television was writing for Graham Chapman’s Jakes’s Journey (CBS/Fox) in 1989. His film credits include What Rats Won’t Do.

All Gods Children by Robin Mukherjee

Kate was a beautiful woman and a loving mother who died prematurely. David mourns the recent death of his wife and his children, Sally and Jake, like him, are in shock. Then David is contacted by an adoption agency. Before she died Kate had been trying to trace her birth mother. The agency has good news - they have finally tracked the woman down. The family is divided as to what to do. Sally and Jake are adamant that David should not meet with their long-missing grandmother. This was the person who abandoned their beloved mother and never tried to find her. David argues that this could be a way to find Kate and to keep some memory of her alive. Meanwhile, Martha, living miles away and unaware of this sudden interest in her, is a very different person to the one the family may have envisaged. Her own unhappy childhood and guilt at abandoning her child have contributed to Martha becoming a bag-lady. David is intent on finding her. How will he, and eventually, his children, respond to this vulnerable woman. And how can that help them get through this agonising time?

Robin Mukherjee is an experienced teacher who has taught at Birkbeck College, the University of Kent and the Arvon Foundation. He has written extensively for the theatre, including such plays as The Cube, Dodgy Times and Bones for Burning. Robin also has numerous television credits including episodes of Casualty, Eastenders, Where the Heart Is and The Bill.

Ronnie Gecko by Alexis Zeckerman

Ron and Alice seem an unlikely pair. She’s a sensitive, fish-loving natural history sound effects archivist. He’s an uncouth, reptile shop owner with a penchant for racing geckos. Ron is on the brink of financial and personal ruin - his wife’s left with the kids, the geckos are non-runners, and his beloved pet tortoise Eddie is giving him the cold shoulder. Today people only enter “Ron’s - tiles” (the ‘Rep’ fell off in 1997) to ask for directions to the M23.
The play opens with Alice collecting Millie - her recently deceased mother’s much-loved tortoise. Concerned about Millie’s health Alice goes to Ron’s shop for advice. Their meeting results in a tortoise hostage situation. Ron is owed money by Alice’s mother. When a distraught Alice returns there’s a mix-up. She accidentally takes Eddie - Ron’s beloved pet tortoise.
Tim - a troubled, school truant who works at Ron’s shop - is searching for a father-figure. The play follows Tim’s mercurial plan to get Alice and Ron together. An orchestrated ‘blind date’ ends in disaster. But Tim won’t give up. With the a little help from Eddie, Millie and a thorough-bred gecko called Red Rum, there may still be hope for these tortoise-crossed lovers.

Alexis Zeckerman is now under commission to Hampstead Theatre. One of the winners of Soho Theatre’s Westminster Prize for New Playwriting, her short play Noise was performed at Soho Theatre in June 2003. Over 2004 she wrote for the Fairtrade event at the London Eye Royal Court/Flight 5065 and Killing Brando was produced for Paines Plough’s Wild Lunch programme. Her radio play Are You Sure? was broadcast in July on Radio 4 and another, The Singing Butler, will air this November. Alexis is working on a new full-length play and is currently developing Footballers’ Widows - a four part comedy series for radio focusing on the long-suffering partners of the sports obsessed - gay, straight, young, old, yoga, football alike!

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