Grierson 2021: the British Documentary Awards

Grierson 2021: the British Documentary Awards
Find out more and enter

Three new categories have been added this year, with other changes in the mix too...

New Categories

Considered the Oscars of the documentary world, entries are now open for the 2021 Grierson Awards. The annual gongs celebrate excellence across the documentary genres, and they remain the most coveted prizes for documentary filmmakers. There are 15 categories to enter before May 28th closing date.

Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust said: “We are always keen to reflect the breadth of documentary genre so we have made a number of changes to the awards for 2021 including the introduction of three new categories. There have been an increasing number of outstanding sport related documentaries on our screens recently, so we have brought in a Sport category for the first time. We also felt that Music deserved a category of its own, so we have separated it from Arts. Natural History has been expanded to specifically recognise the increasing number of documentaries that focus on environmental issues.

“The challenges of the past year have highlighted the invaluable role played by many people behind the scenes who often don’t get the recognition they deserve. We hope to address this through our new special award, the Grierson Hero of the Year. This will be presented to an individual judged by our Trustees to have made a positive impact within the industry during the previous 12 months. This person may be working in any area and be at any level of their career. The award will be given someone who has gone the extra mile and made an outstanding difference.”

In addition to the new categories, as the impact of the pandemic rolls on, there will be no Best Cinema category this year as there has been little opportunity to show documentaries on the big screen. However, feature documentaries are accepted in all the single documentary categories.

See the full list of categories

Diversity and Inclusion

Entrants will again be asked to identify steps that were taken to ensure diversity and inclusion in the making of their film or series. Juries will take into consideration the efforts that have been made to include under-represented groups both on and off screen; as well as any themes and narratives that address diversity and inclusion.

Lorraine Heggessey continued: "By asking entrants to identify these specific elements of their production, we continue to emphasise that diversity and inclusion are intrinsic to the overall excellence of any production.”


For the 2021 awards, all entries must have had their first UK screening between 1 June 2020 and 31 May 2021. This includes scheduled screenings within recognised film, television and documentary festivals. Entries are accepted for both analogue and digital platforms – such as Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon – as long as the screening was accessible by a UK-based audience.

The Grierson Trust is grateful to all its sponsors who help support the awards including headline sponsors All3Media, digital broadcast partners Little Dot Studios and category sponsors BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, Discovery, Envy, Netflix, Sky Documentaries, The Open University, The Rumi Foundation, and YouTube Originals as well as supporters British Council, The Talent Manager, Televisual and The Kit Room. The awards event will take place in November.

Deadline Friday, 28 May 2021 | Find out more and enter

For any awards-related enquiries, email .

2021 Grierson Awards sponsors and supporters

Published: 31 March 2021

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