WINNER 2007 (for plays broadcast during 2006):

The Imison Award of £1,500 was presented to Mike Bartlett for "Not Talking", BBC Radio Drama, R3.

>>pictures from this year's Imison & Tinniswood awards (2007)<<  

This is a thoughtful play with contemporary relevance enhanced by historical perspective. Constant juxtaposition of contrasting themes - music and military, loyalty and betrayal, bullying and defence of values,  killing and suicide, male and female emotional responses, desire for children and abuse of youth - mirror the alternate voices telling parallel stories making it much more than another anti-Iraq war rant.

Repeated on Radio 3, Saturday December 29 2007.

Highly recommended:

The Ballad of Shane O’Neill by Jimmy McAleavey, BBC Northern Ireland, R4
Queen Elizabeth I and Irish chieftain Shane O'Neill feature in this exuberant, linguistically inventive drama. The play offers a gripping personal narrative dramatising questions of national identity, of personal and political power, and of gender politics, and suggesting exciting parallels between then and now.

Esterhazy by Peter Nichols, Sweet Talk, R4

A gripping and involving drama; the thriller-like story line was echoed in the accomplished use of radio drama conventions, with an adventurous interplay between fact and fiction. The interpolation of ‘interviews’ lent an evocative and real-sounding context for an ordinary ending to an extraordinary life. The final twist was in the spirit of the thriller genre, with the listener led to connect clues and solve the mystery.


Paul Viragh: Cry Hungary
Mike Bartlett: Not Talking
Peter Nichols: Esterhazy
Jimmy McAleavey: The Ballad of Shane O'Neill
Chris Harrald: The Word Man
Tim Wright: In Search of Oldton

The presentation of this award, by Leslie Phillips, took place on the evening of Thursday 18 October at the British Academy, London.  Plays: rebroadcast on BBC Radio 3, 4 and 7; available from the BBC website 7 days on-demand.

The Imison Award honours the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio, broadcast over 2006. The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and judges are members of the Society of Author’s Broadcasting Committee (Naomi Gryn (Chairman), Roger Bolton, Siân Busby, Edwina Currie, David Docherty, Sarah LeFanu, Anne Sebba, Don Shaw and Michelene Wandor).

pictures from this year's Imison & Tinniswood awards (2007)


By Paul Viragh, R4.

Cry Hungary is set against the backdrop of the bloody Hungarian uprising of 1956.  Peter Kovacs, state-sponsored,  leaves the country for University. There he meets Eva Toth, a committed young communist intellectual, and they fall in love.  Peter becomes involved in the violent student demonstrations against the government, leaving Eva torn between her loyalty to party and country and her love for Peter.  When the Soviet army crushes the revolution, they must decide whether to escape together to the West or stay and risk the repercussions.  Is it a step Eva is willing to take?

Paul Viragh ran the Operating Theatre Company doing classic and devised drama and has been a script reader and editor for the RSC, Royal Court, National  Theatre, BBC Radio, and several independent film and television companies. He wrote The Choice for BBC3 (television) and he is working on a returning series, Hopeville, for Hat Trick Productions. Granada has commissioned a new comedy drama series and his TV series Nappy Valley was recently optioned by The Producers.

Paul is currently developing an Ian Dury biopic for 19 Entertainment and co-writing a sitcom, Arcadia, for Talkback Thames. In the last five years Paul has also written, directed and produced five short films and a short feature, two films being festival finalists. His first feature as writer/director, Dark Blue Rising, is currently in development with Cross Day Productions and stars Andy Serkis.

NOT TALKING....2006       
By creating a fractured twenty-first century 'family', who tell us what they cannot tell the world and each other, the play tackles the broad themes of when to fight, protest, talk and when to remain silent.   

James was a conscientious objector during the Second World War. Sixty years later he discovers his wife took quiet revenge for the affair he had  at that time. Mark is a young soldier about to go to Iraq who meets Amanda, a fellow soldier, at a party at his barracks. The violence that occurs that night haunts them both.

Mike Bartlett is currently writing a new play for R4. His five part series The Family Man has been broadcast on Woman's Hour.  

His works for theatre includee 'Artifacts' which won the Old Vic New Voices Award 2006, and 'My Child' which was recently performed at the Royal Court. He is now writing The Love Contract for the Royal Court Main House and as participating in the Pearson Playwrights Scheme.

By Peter Nichols (Sweet Talk, R4).

In 1909 a French couple move to Harpenden. The Count is a mystery and only on his death in 1923 do villagers discover his true identity  - a man who sparked the scandal of a century. This drama explores the last days of Jean-Marie Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy using extracts from his letters.   Behind the bolts and the bars of his house the ailing Frenchman knows he urgently needs to wrap up his affairs. He makes his will, but there is one last task he must undertake. With the help of a writer Esterhazy seeks to put on the record his version of the Dreyfus Affair, desperate to convince his cynical compatriots that he was not a traitor when he sold secrets to the German attaché, but acting under orders. But the story was never written, and Esterhazy took his reputation as a charlatan and traitor to the grave.

Peter Nichols has been a drama teacher, Time Out comedy reviewer and cabaret editor, London Daily News theatre reviewer and Perrier Award judge and chairman. As a sports journalist he has worked for The Guardian, The Observer and London Daily News. In 2002, Peter turned back to drama when he became a director of Sweet Talk Productions.

By Jimmy McAleavey (BBC Northern Ireland, R4).

The Ballad of Shane O'Neill is a play about national identity wrapped in a whodunit.  It is told largely in rhyming verse and is set in the reign of Elizabeth I when the ideas of English and Irish identities were being formed - largely in opposition to each other.     Irish Chieftain Shane O'Neill is trying to capture Ulster and English courtiers use military action, attempt assassination and finally offer marriage, to bring him under control.  But Shane does not know how to be humble and he sets his sights on the Virgin Queen.  The play climaxes in an illicit act of union between Elizabeth and Shane. Shane has offended all sides and his killer is, perhaps, the last person we would suspect.

Jimmy McAleavey is currently working on Moonmen for R3, and his episode of Baldi, The Food of the Blue, is awaiting broadcast on R4. Radio short stories include the award-winning Cemetery Sunday (First Bite, R4) and The Last Words of Van Helsing (BBC7).   

Jimmy worked for 10 years as a factual television producer and director and has 50 credits to his name. He has written and directed two films: Crossing (RTE), the recipient of taRTE/Galway Film Centre Award, and Heroes (BBC2), winner of a Northern Lights short film award. His feature film Poor Banished Children of Eve is currently in development with Hot Shot Films. His stage play Weirdwolf was shortlisted for last year's King's Cross Award for new writing.

THE WORD MAN....2006
By Chris Harrald, R4.

The Word Man takes us on an impressionistic tour of Henry Fowler's life, which is sedate at first glance, but packed with miniature dramas. Words act as triggers to flick to key points in his life, for it is only in the company of words he comes truly alive.  

 At fifty, this reserved man falls in love for the first time. He is lost for words. He has nothing in common with his beloved, yet they are happy. This was a touching and comic play about Henry Fowler, the creator of the Concise Oxford Dictionary and Fowler's Modern English Usage, which delicately shows how a brilliant wordsmith deals, late in life, with the unexpected language of love.  

Chris Harrald is an experienced film and television writer.  His credits include  Cathedral (Caligari Films), Stranded (Hallmark), The Lion in Winter (Hallmark, with Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart), Aesop's Fables, St. Nicholas (Alliance-Atlantis/ABC), H.G Wells, The Death Pit (ITV), Being Stalked (Working Title Films), Zuleika Dobson (September Films) and Photographing Fairies (Polygram, starring Ben Kingsley and Toby Stephens).

by Tim Wright, R4.

A 90% true story about a town that disappeared and a life that never made it into the digital age.  Tim Wright takes us on a personal journey to find Oldton, the town of his childhood that vanished when his father died. The play includes contributions from an actual website community who offer Tim advice and their own stories of things that go missing.

Drawing on contributions made to a website dedicated to the virtual town of Oldton, as well as Wright's own experience of pulling himself out of the quicksand after his father's suicide, the play is an original approach to mourning and the vagaries of memory.  

Tim Wright has been the lead writer of two BAFTA-winning interactive projects - the comedy self-help disk MindGym and web and email drama Online Caroline, as well as co-developing and devising the lunatic web 'holiday' Mount Kristos, the absurd virtual gift-giving service IT3C and the BAFTA nominated science-learning Web drama Planet Jemma. 

He is currently the digital-writer-in-residence for the 'Writers for the Future' project.   In Search of Oldton has been nominated for this year's Prix Europa.


Submissions will be accepted from any party (production, broadcasting organisation, producer or independent production company, editor, writer, writer's agent, etc.). The submission must be accompanied by an entry form setting out the date and time of transmission, the broadcasting body concerned, who produced the piece, and a statement to the effect that the piece was the first radio drama to be broadcast by the writer or writers.

Submissions for the award must consist of a completed nomination form as well as three copies of the writer's original script and recording of the broadcast. Further copies will be requested if the work is short-listed. Please email a 250 word synopsis and 250 word author biography to Jo Hodder. Entries will not be returned and should be sent to Jo Hodder, The Society of Authors, 84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB.

Click to print an application form. Imison Application Form 2008 (pdf format)

Submissions for the award must be received by 8 Feb 2008.

Eligibility: Any radio drama first transmitted within the United Kingdom between 1st January and 31st December 2007 by a writer or writers new to radio. The work must be an original piece for radio, and it must be the first dramatic work by the writer or writers that has been broadcast. It may also include the first episode from an original series or serial.

An adaptation for radio of a piece originally written for stage, television or film is not eligible. Please check the Society of Authors website for the small print.



This award was established in 1994 to perpetuate the memory of Richard Imison, to acknowledge the encouragement he gave to radio writers, and in memory of the support and friendship he gave them.

The Imison Award is administered by the Society of Authors. The Society is grateful to the Peggy Ramsay Foundation for funding this year's award.

The aim is to encourage new talent and high standards in radio writing, by selecting the radio drama by a writer new to radio which, in the opinion of the judges, is the best of those submitted. The award for 2008 is a cheque for £1,500.

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