July 20, 2023
Revealing the 2023 Grierson Awards shortlist
The shortlist features a standout selection of single documentaries and series reflecting the best of documentary and factual television launched across broadcasters, streamers and online as well as theatrical releases.
The British Documentary Awards, in association with All3Media.
The Trust received a record number of entries for its 51st annual awards, resulting in an increased number of films on the shortlists for Best Documentary Series, Best History and Best Sports Documentary categories. Amongst the shortlisted titles, subjects include hard-hitting films about the killing of a prominent young journalist in Northern Ireland, corruption in sport, the power and impact of musicians on contemporary society, how scientists are battling the threats to the environment from climate change and human activity, and the astonishing personal stories of two of the UK’s most-loved athletes.
The BBC tops the shortlist with 40 entries across its channels and on iPlayer, followed by Netflix with 17, Channel 4 with 14, Sky with 11, Prime Video with six, ITV and Disney+ with five, Channel 5 with four, and Apple TV+ with three.
Those in the running for Best Documentary Presenter include established names such as Michael Palin and David Baddiel alongside relative newcomers Munya Chawawa, Runako Celina, and Emily Victoria.
Arts entries include biographies of Sinead O’Connor and Sydney Poitier and Joe Lycett taking on David Beckham for his involvement in the Qatar World Cup is shortlisted in the Best Entertaining Documentary category. The Science and History categories include subjects as wide as how a how the narcotics trade changed the contemporary history of Dublin, new accounts of the lives of Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed, living with dementia, autism and cancer, as well as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars investigating how to prolong his life to the maximum.
The Music category covers the history of the genre exploring Louis Armstrong’s personal archive, the incredible life of Little Richard, and the definitive story of hip-hop. The growing power and breadth of sports documentaries is represented through contemporary accounts of Football World Cups and Nigeria’s participation in the 1996 Olympic Games, alongside personal stories and investigations into racism, homophobia and mental health.
Films vying for the Best Cinema Documentary award include critically acclaimed documentaries about environmental devastation in India, the tragic love story of two courageous vulcanologists and a charming profile of one of the world’s oldest cinema clubs.
Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust says: "The record number of entries to this year’s Grierson Awards alongside a very high standard of filmmaking is a reflection of the significance documentaries have in every schedule and on every platform and demonstrates a demand from viewers for meaningful content that has an impact on their lives. The shortlisted documentaries are insightful, thought-provoking and often introduce audiences to new subjects. The incredible talent represented on and off-screen - from established names through to breakthrough newcomers - is a testament to our industry’s continued ability bring powerful storytelling to screens in the UK and worldwide.”
Fifteen exceptional films and series have the honour of being shortlisted in multiple categories. They are:
- A Bunch of Amateurs – Best Cinema Documentary and Best Entertaining Documentary
- A Paedophile in My Family: Surviving Dad – Best Single Documentary - Domestic and Best Documentary Presenter
- All That Breathes – Best Cinema Documentary and Best Single Documentary - International
- Dublin Narcos – Best History Documentary and Best Documentary Series
- FIFA Uncovered – Best Sports Documentary and Best Documentary Series
- Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World – Best History Documentary and Best Music Documentary
- Fire of Love – Best Cinema Documentary and Best Natural History or Environmental Documentary
- Inside our Autistic Minds – Best Constructed or Formatted Documentary Series and Best Science Documentary
- Lyra – Best Cinema Documentary and Best Single Documentary - Domestic
- Nothing Compares – Best Cinema Documentary and Best Music Documentary
- Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland – Best Documentary Series and Best History Documentary
- Panorama – Mariupol: The People's Story – Best Current Affairs Documentary and Best Single Documentary - International
- Super Eagles ‘96 – Best Sports Documentary and Best Single Documentary - International
- The Man Who Played with Fire – Best History Documentary and Best Documentary Series
- The Real Mo Farah – Best Sports Documentary and Best Single Documentary - Domestic
The diverse shortlist for Best Documentary Presenter represents newcomers and established names covering personal stories, contemporary themes and international journeys. It comprises:
- David Baddiel for David Baddiel: Jews Don’t Count
- Hannah Fry for Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry
- Munya Chawawa for How to Survive a Dictator with Munya Chawawa
- Runako Celina for Racism for Sale
- Emily Atack for Emily Atack: Asking for it?
- Emily Victoria for A Paedophile in the Family: Surviving Dad
- Olivia Attwood for Olivia Attwood: Getting Filthy Rich
- Michael Palin for Michael Palin Into Iraq
Films vying for the Best Cinema Documentary award include critically acclaimed documentaries about the environment, the tragic love story of two vulcanologists and one of the world’s oldest cinema clubs in All That Breathes, Fire of Love and A Bunch of Amateurs.
The Best Student Documentary category shortlist includes four entries from NFTS, two from Goldsmiths and one each from the London College of Communications and University College London.
Grierson Hero of the Year Award
The Sky Documentaries Grierson Hero of the Year Award, now in its third year, is now accepting nominations. Celebrating unsung heroes working behind the scenes in documentary or factual TV, the award recognises someone who has gone above and beyond and had a real impact on the industry in the last 12 months. Nominees can be at any stage of their career and work in any off-screen role in factual. The first gong went to Production Manager, Serena Kennedy and last year’s award went to director, Clare Richards for her work promoting female directors in documentary via We Are Doc Women’s 50/50 Pledge.
Nominations are completely free to make. Entrants should have two references to back up the nomination and write up to 500 words on why their chosen nominee should be considered. The Grierson Trust’s Board of Trustees will decide the winner. The deadline is Friday, 15 September.
One award is still to be announced, the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award. The recipient of this award is chosen by the Grierson Board and recognises an outstanding contribution to the art or craft of the documentary.