About the 2019 Sandford St Martin Awards

The Sandford St Martin Awards are the UK’s most prestigious broadcast awards for radio, TV and online programmes that reflect religious, spiritual or ethical themes. They are the only awards that welcome entries about any and all faiths.

The Awards are held at Lambeth Palace, where prize money totaling approximately £4,000 is awarded to the winners.

The 2019 Awards – including the new Sandford St Martin Journalism Award – are now open for entries.  For full details on eligibility and entry criteria follow the link below.  Your entry must arrive at the Trust’s offices by 5 pm on Friday 1 February 2019.

The Trust welcomes submissions from news, current affairs, factual, the arts, music, drama and comedy – as well as from teams producing specifically ‘religious’ commissions.

To be eligible for the 2019 Awards programmes must have been made by a UK or ROI based broadcasting organisation or production house and have been first publicly broadcast or published between 1 January and 31 December 2018 to a UK audience.

If you need inspiration, then you can review our 2018 Award winners or you can listen to 2016’s keynote address which was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Sandford St Martin Awards

2018 Award Winners and shortlisted programmes

The winners of the 2018 Awards were announced at Lambeth Palace on 7 June – a particularly auspicious occasion marking, as it did, the Trust’s 40thanniversary and over four decades of celebrating programmes and programme makers that explore religion, ethics and spirituality. Broadcast technology has evolved hugely over that period, as have the skills of programme-makers and the sophistication of audiences.  But what we feel hasn’t changed is people’s appetite for excellent programmes that explore, question and lend insight or new perspective to the “big questions”: Who are we? Why are we here?  And what does it all mean?

So it was fitting that among the many wonderful programmes celebrated that night was Blue Peter, the BBC’s flagship children’s programme – this year celebrating a birthday of its own and the winner of the Trustees’ Special Anniversary Award.  For sixty years now, Blue Peter has been introducing generations of young audiences to the wider world, fostering in them a sense of belonging and responsibility for its future.  It’s this commitment to the exploration of the natural world, history and science while also engaging with knottier questions around subjects like human rights, immigration, the environment, how things work or what makes a community that the Trustees feel make Blue Peter a truly exceptional.  Accepting the Award on Blue Peter’s behalf were the presenters Radzi Chinyanganya, Diane-Louise Jordan, Janet Ellis and the programme’s editor Ewan Vinnicombe.

And that was just the beginning of a very special evening celebrating some very special programmes.

Neil MacGregor the historian and former director of the British Museum who has fronted such ground-breaking series as the BBC’s “Living With the Gods” 2017 radio series or the 2000 TV series “Seeing Salvation” was given the Trustees’ Award.  In his compelling and generous acceptance speech he made an eloquent argument for why belief and religion are such good subjects for programme-makers.

Pulling off a ‘double’, Jimmy McGovern’s truly radical and challenging TV drama ‘Broken’ won both the TV Award and the Radio Times Readers Award. While the series follows a recent trend towards social realism in drama and is gritty, heart-breaking and hopeful in equal measure, it also did something extremely rare.   Without romanticising or sensationalising its characters, the series introduced its audience to faith as experienced or lived by a very human priest and some of his congregation.  McGovern said “I have spent much of my career as a television dramatist trying to give a voice to those whose stories aren’t often heard: the poor, the dispossessed, the wrongly accused, the betrayed.  But getting a story made about a parish priest in Liverpool proved to be my hardest mission yet.  In fact, it was 30 years in the making and very nearly didn’t happen.”  We’re glad he persevered and think it was definitely worth the wait.

The Radio Award winner was the BBC 5 Live’ Daily with Emma Barnett for their outside broadcast from Stanbrook Abbey – home to 21 Benedictine nuns – which featured a range of candid conversations about knickers, football rivalries and other surprising subjects.  Chair of the Radio judges Caroline Wyatt told the audience at Lambeth Palace “this was a worthy winner: informative and respectful and just cheeky enough – it asked all the questions I’d ever wanted answered at my own convent school though would never have dared to ask.”

The best Interview Award went to the BBC World Service documentary “Good Without God”, part of the long running Heart and Soul strand.  In the programme father and son Tony and Bart Campolo, previously two of America’s best known evangelical pastors, talk about what happened after Bart lost his faith.  Ed Stourton, chair of the judges in this category noted “it is a real mark of the skill with which this conversations was managed (by the Jane Little, the interviewer) that it could take off like this.”

Screwball!“, made for TrueTube.co.uk by the independent production company CTVC won the Children’s Award.  Presenting the Award Baroness Floella Benjamin paid effusive and enthusiastic tribute to a great and unexpectedly funny film that deals with two teenagers negotiating the terms of their developing relationship.  As Floella said it is an example of “the world-class progrmmaing that our children and grandchildren deserve.”

»  Read more about all the programmes shortlisted for a 2018 Award here.

Awards archive

After more than three decades in the business, the Sandford St Martin Trust holds a unique record of recognising and celebrating the best broadcasting about religion, ethics and morality from across the UK.   Our winners include some of the best programmes broadcast in the UK and come from all different genres – as well as “traditional” religious programming.  You can read more about them in our Awards Archive.

» Past awards