Announcing the Grierson Awards shortlist for 2020

The Grierson Trust presents the shortlist for the 2020 British Documentary Awards in association with All3Media.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s presence can be felt in the shortlist for multiple categories alongside some of the most talked about programmes of the year, including Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview and Mary Beard's Shock of the Nude.

The impact of the pandemic is also evident in the Best Documentary Series category with Hospital Special: Fighting Covid-19 and also in the Best Arts or Music category with Grayson's Art Club. Meanwhile, big screen, big hitter For Sama features in the Cinema category and small screen returners 24 Hours in Police Custody, Long Lost Family and Race Across the World appear within Best Series and Best Constructed Series shortlists.

Grierson Awards 2020

Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust says: "This is a particularly challenging time for filmmakers, so I'm pleased to have this opportunity to celebrate some of the most outstanding factual programmes broadcast in the past 12 months. This year's shortlist showcases the creativity and fearlessness of the world’s filmmakers as they take viewers to the heart of issues affecting all our lives. I'm also thrilled that 2020 shortlist represents the biggest range of channels, broadcasters and platforms to date, as commissioners recognise the crucial role the documentary plays in every schedule."

The 104 shortlisted films and eight presenters will now go forward to final nominations and judging ahead of 48th annual awards ceremony on 10 November 2020.

The BBC dominates the Science and Natural History categories and tops the shortlist with 44 entries in the running overall. Netflix has over 50% of the Best Series shortlist with 12 films in total. Channel 4 have 11 in the mix. ITV has five films listed, Sky has three, Al Jazeera, Apple+, Nat Geo and Amazon Prime all have two each. Completing the list with a film apiece are Channel 5, Discovery, S4C, BT, ESPN, YouTube and Fields of Vision while the remainder is made up of festival and university screenings alongside theatrical releases.

Just three films have the honour of being shortlisted in multiple categories. They are:

  1. War in the Blood has been listed in Single Documentary - Domestic and Science categories.
  2. Crip Camp is shortlisted in the Single Documentary - International and Historical lists.
  3. Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain is featured in the line-up for Historical and Series.

The Best Presenter shortlist recognises a diverse range of voices, with a clutch of newcomers alongside established documentary faces. They are:

  1. David Olusaga for The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files, whilst his A House Through Time makes the Historical group.
  2. Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview is on the Current Affairs shortlist with Emily Maitlis on the Presenter list.
  3. Kathy Burke is shortlisted as Presenter for her series Kathy Burke's All Woman which features on the Entertaining shortlist.
  4. Hometown: A Killing is on the Series list and also earns Mobeen Azhar a place on the Presenter.
  5. Stacey Dooley Investigates: Nigeria's Female Suicide Bombers makes the Current Affairs category whilst the presenter herself is shortlisted for Stacey Dooley: On the Psych Ward.

Miriam Margolyes (Miriam's Big Fat Adventure), Joanna Lumley (Joanna Lumley's Cuban Adventure: Havana to Haiti) and Jesy Nelson's personal story of life after The X Factor (Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out) complete the Best Documentary Presenter shortlist.

Lorraine Heggessey sums up this year’s impressive shortlist: "The Grierson Awards recognise the crème de la crème of documentary making with young newcomer directors standing shoulder to shoulder with Grierson-winning alumni. Our juries now face a summer of deliberation and I look forward to announcing the final nominations in the autumn."

See the full shortlist.

Published: 23 July 2020

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