The winners of the 2018 Grierson Awards: BBC and Channel 4 score gongs with Stephen Lawrence series taking a double crown

In a night of celebration of documentary filmmaking, the 46th annual British Documentary Awards saw the BBC dominate taking eight of the 14 awards with its acclaimed series Stephen: The Murder that Changes a Nation crowned with both Best Documentary Series and Best Historical Documentary prizes. Big screen hard-hitter The Work also took multiple prizes in Best Single-International and Best Cinema categories. Hosted by Strictly Come Dancing star and comedian, Susan Calman, the 2018 awards were presented at a star-studded event on the Southbank last night.

Winners 2018 Winners of Nyman Libson Paul Best Entertaining Doc - Celebrity Hunted - Photographer Dean O'Brien

Chairman of The Grierson Trust, Lorraine Heggessey said: "If there is a uniting single essence that stands out in our 2018 winners, it's the intimate. Many of these beautifully-crafted films tell personal stories about communities, families and individuals. They penetrate broad headlines and complex issues through the intimacy of stories that illuminate our humanity with compassion. I'm delighted to celebrate this work and offer sincere congratulations to all the winners."

Stars and personalities from across TV and public life were present on the night including TV presenters Patrick Kielty, Cherry Healey, mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, paralympian Ade Adepitan, zoologist Lucy Cooke, historian Professor Kate Williams, rapper Professor Green and biochemist Liz Bonnin; Sir Lenny Henry and Sir Trevor McDonald; journalists Julie Etchingham and Susanna Reid; Stephen Lawrence's family and legal team Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Dr Neville Lawrence and Imran Khan QC; First Dates' Maître d' Fred Sirieix; Gogglebox's Steph and Dom Parker; and Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing and Spencer Matthews among the guests.

The winners in full.

  • Getty Images Best Current Affairs Documentary

    Panorama: Undercover - Britain's Immigration Secrets:

    BBC Current Affairs for BBC One
    Director: Joe Plomin
    Undercover Reporter: Callum Tulley

    Highly Commended:

    The Fight for Mosul:

    Mongoose Pictures for Channel 4, Directors: Olivier Sarbil, James Jones

    David Moulton: "We want to single out Olivier Sarbil's The Fight for Mosul as Highly Commended specifically for his courageous film-making."

  • Docsville Best Documentary Short


    Pulse Films and Fee Fie Foe for BFI Flair, Director: Matt Houghton

    Andy Whittaker, Jury Chair: "Our winner is thoughtful and powerful. It's a beautifully assembled film tackling an issue that has little mainstream attention. Using clever dramatic reconstruction and actuality, it wove the two together to reveal what life is really like for people who might otherwise feel isolated and unheard. It's an important and effective short that left a dramatic ringing in the ears."

    Highly Commended:


    Jayisha Patel Films & National Film & Television School for University/College screening, Director: Jayisha Patel

    Andy Whittaker: "We would like to make a special mention of Jayisha Patel's Circle which was an indelible study of cyclical trauma told in delicate, methodical terms."

  • Sargent-Disc Best Science Documentary

    Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me:

    Raw TV for BBC Two, Director: Charlie Russell

    Jane Aldous, Jury Chair: "The winner stood apart as a joyous celebration of individuality in a rich film that gave real insight and exploration of the science with true capacity to shift perceptions." 

    Highly Commended:

    Attenborough's Wonder of Eggs:

    Mike Birkhead Associates for BBC Two, Directors: Mike Birkhead, Beth Jones

    Jane Aldous: "It is a beautiful film, full of good science that revealed the extraordinary in the ordinary."

  • Envy Best Single Documentary – Domestic

    Kingdom of Us:

    Pulse Films for General theatrical release, Director: Lucy Cohen

    Rowan Deacon, Jury Chair: "The winner stood out as a spellbinding piece the likes of which we had never seen before. Grounded on exceptional storytelling which unfolded gradually and without sensation, this stylish and original piece of filmmaking was used to tell a complex story of grief, memory and forgiveness."

  • Channel 4 Best Single Documentary – International

    Storyville: The Work - Four Days to Redemption:

    Blanketfort Media for BBC Four, Directors: Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous

    Ben Anthony, Jury Chair: "The unanimous winner was a simply extraordinary film. Powerful, moving and thought-provoking from the start, it deserves praise for its many memorable scenes and the extraordinary level of intimacy and access gained by the film-makers. Like all the best documentaries, this film holds up a mirror to society and challenges our preconceptions. It is an original and profoundly affecting film."

    Highly Commended:


    Impact Partners, Diamond Docs, Chicago Media Project & Alex Productions for Netflix, Director: Bryan Fogel

    Ben Anthony, Jury Chair: "We wanted to give a special mention to Icarus' Grigory Rodchenkov as an extraordinary and memorable character in a film that put viewers right in the eye of the storm."

  • All3Media Best Student Documentary

    Fake News Fairytale:

    Director: Kate Stonehill, National & Television School

    Christopher Hird, Jury Chair: "Quirky and memorable, the filmmaker told a told a story of their time, for their generation, in an engaging way, taking the viewer into a world of which we are not a part."

  • BFI Doc Society Fund Best Cinema Documentary

    The Work:

    Blanketfort Media for General theatrical release, Directors: Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous

    Simon Chinn, Jury Chair: "This film stood out for its amazing and truly insightful study of masculinity. It explores the vulnerability of men with a tenderness and physicality rarely seen on film. It’s raw and revealing process rips the men out of their comfort zones and reveals powerful moments of change and redemption in a film that is dramatic and challenging."

  • StormHD Best Arts or Music Documentary

    Leonora Carrington - The Lost Surrealist:

    Erica Starling Productions & Ronachan Films for BBC Four, Director: Teresa Griffiths

    James Quinn, Jury Chair: "We were unanimous in our praise for the winner of this category. The film's creative approach gave it the edge over other entries, connecting the subject's biography and inner life to the subject’s art in a surefooted way. We also admired the film for telling a new story about a neglected artist."

  • Best Historical Documentary

    Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation - The Loss of Joy:

    On The Corner Films in association with Rogan Productions for BBC One, Director: James Rogan

    Emma Hindley, Jury Chair: "Our winner is confident and bold in its storytelling, gripping and powerfully emotional in its delivery. While it told the intimate story of an individual and a family, it also evoked the atmosphere of a nation at a very particular time. The film skill fully captured society's attitudes in the 1990s and is a timely reminder that institutional racism is still a real and ever present issue. This film got beyond the iconic image that we all know so well and introduced a young man as a human being rather than a symbolic statistic."

    Highly Commended:

    A House Through Time - Episode 2:

    Twenty Twenty for BBC Two, Director: Stuart Elliott

    Emma Hindley: "This film deserves praise for its incredible historical research and for David Olusoga's brilliant presenting. It brought real emotion and engagement to the history of some unsung, yet extraordinary people's lives in a house in Liverpool." 

  • Warner Bros TV Production Best Documentary Presenter

    PATRICK KIELTY for My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me

    Dragonfly Film and Television for BBC One

    Carol Nahra, Jury Chair: "We were unanimous in our winner who brought a lightness of touch and generosity of spirit to a deeply personal and difficult topic. Through engaging interviews and extraordinary pieces to camera he deftly straddled the line between immersive and professional in an even-handed and fully engaging film."

    Highly Commended:

    PROFESSOR GREEN for Working Class White Men

    Swan Films for Channel 4

    Carol Nahra: "We would like to recognise Professor Green for his riveting short series Working Class White Men. Tackling a topic that few people want to address openly, he was emotionally invested, deeply articulate and authentic throughout."

  • Best Natural History Documentary

    H is for Hawk: A New Chapter

    Mike Birkhead Associates for BBC Two, Directors: Mike Birkhead, Beth Jones

    Liesel Evans, Jury Chair: "Our winning film was an original approach to a compelling love story. The level of craft on the film was exceptional, and it was a classic piece of documentary film-making."

    Highly Commended

    Blue Planet II: One Ocean

    BBC Studios - Natural History Unit for BBC One, Director: Production Team

    Liesel Evans: "A massive achievement with an incredible array of mind blowing cinematography and previously unseen stories of our oceans, with Attenborough as the magic glue between them all. It made natural history accessible and a must watch for a huge and broad audience and this is something to be celebrated."

  • BBC Grierson Trustees Award

    Sir Trevor McDonald

    In her citation, ITV News' Julie Etchingham said: "Trevor is quite simply this country's greatest ever newscaster. The most trusted, the most celebrated and the most loved.

    "Tonight's award recognises not just that - but the far broader canvas on which Trevor has also worked and is still working: on documentaries, in depth, - still making sense of the world for us - in his own inimitable style.

    "We trust him to do that for us, because for decades he has built a compendious knowledge of current affairs - made it his business to find things out for us at ground level - a fertile soil with layer upon layer of news coverage.

    "In my view, in our industry Trevor - Sir Trevor - stands for what endures. The power of a good story told with passion and panache - and told by someone you trust. I'm proud to be his colleague and proud to be his friend."

  • Nyman Libson Paul Best Entertaining Documentary

    Celebrity Hunted

    Shine for Channel 4, Director: Production Team

    David Dehaney, Jury Chair: "The winning film paired a good cause, joyous characters and a solid format to create a film that was tense and surprisingly gripping. Not a millisecond was wasted as every bit of entertainment was squeezed out in an expert example of high quality filmmaking."

  • Best Constructed Documentary Series

    Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds

    CPL Productions for Channel 4, Director: Benjamin Leigh

    Catey Sexton, Jury Chair: "Our winner stood out for its true sense of purpose - a serious issue underpins this heart-warming, moving and insightful series.  We were unanimous this should be recognised for tackling such an important issue in such a joyous and affecting way."

  • Netflix Best Documentary Series

    Stephen: The Murder That Changed A Nation

    On The Corner Films in association with Rogan Productions for BBC One, Director: James Rogan

    Tom McDonald, Jury Chair: "The winner of this year's Grierson is a remarkable series - beautifully crafted, with extraordinary use of interview, archive and a unique visual approach. It is not simply a re-telling of a story and its repercussions but is a series about Britain, who we were as a nation and what we've become."

The evening also celebrated the work of DocLab, The Grierson Trust's training and mentoring scheme. Since 2012, DocLab has enabled 71 young people to explore documentary making, offering hands on training, paid work placements and continued mentoring. The scheme goes from strength to strength with alumni now at work across the industry as filmmakers, editors, researchers and directors. Some are now lining up for awards themselves - Preston Hartley was on the 2018 Student shortlist and Ryan Gregory's film for BBC Three, The Voices in My Head, is shortlisted for an RTS North West Award on 10th November. The scheme is supported by numerous production companies and The Trust is very grateful for the support of The Rank Foundation, whose three year commitment to the programme is enabling The Trust to keep building DocLab as well as fostering new connections within the Rank Foundation community.

Published: 6 November 2018

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