Shortlist for 2017 Audio Drama Awards

3 January 2017

New talent is celebrated in the Imison Award with debut audio drama writers James Fritz, James Meek and Jonny O’Neill shortlisted. The winner of the award will be presented with £3,000.

Timothy X Atack, Oliver Emanuel and Imison shortlistee James Fritz have been shortlisted for the £2,000 Tinniswood Award for the best original audio drama script – the UK’s premier prize for audio drama writing.

The winners of both awards will be announced on 29 January 2017 at the BBC Audio Drama Awards.


The Imison Award honours the best original script by a writer new to audio drama. The judges for the 2017 award are Stefan Buczacki, Isla Gray, Christopher William Hill, Catherin Johnson, Jamila Gavin, Marcy Kahan, Hilary Robinson, Mike Walker, and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal. 

COMMENT IS FREE by James Fritz

Produced by Becky Ripley, BBC Radio & Music Bristol

A fiercely current, socially relevant and dramatic depiction of free speech and mob mentality. A skilfully crafted cacophony of hundreds of voices, the script uses social media as a powerful and contemporary means of comment.

James Fritz

James’ first stage play Four Minutes Twelve Seconds (Hampstead Theatre downstairs and Trafalgar Studios) was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate and won him the “Most Promising Playwright” prize at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards 2015.

His other plays include: The Fall which he wrote for the National Youth Theatre’s 60th anniversary season in 2016; Ross & Rachel which returns to Battersea Arts Centre in April; and Parliament Square, which won a Bruntwood Prize in 2015, and is currently in development with The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. His second radio play, Death of a Cosmonaut, will be broadcast on Radio 4 in April. Twitter: @JamesFritz



Produced by Peter Kavanagh, BBC Drama London

What should a philosopher’s moral goal be:  fame or obscurity? Original, unpredictable, and an out and out thriller, this hilarious satire plays with the politics and insecurities of academia, as a fading professor, an ambitious post graduate student, and a Ukrainian pole-dancer compete to lay their hands on a famous philosopher’s last work.

James Meek

James Meek grew up in Scotland, lived and Ukraine and Russia in the 1990s, and now lives in England. He has published seven works of fiction - five novels and two books of short stories. Among the novels are The Heart Broke In (Shortlisted for the Costa Prize), We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (Winner of the Prince Maurice prize) and The People’s Act of Love (Booker Prize longlisted, winner of the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year). His non-fiction title Private Island won the 2015 Orwell Prize for books. Reviews for The Virtues of Oblivion included: ‘Oblique, clever intriguing play’, Sunday Times; ‘A twisting thriller that features fine performances’, Observer; ‘Gripping’, The Times.



Produced by Sasha Yevtushenko, BBC Drama London

This is a tightly focused and cleverly manipulative tale, providing a snapshot glimpse of a life destined to unravel. Tommy is the guileless protagonist, seemingly unable to forge any link between action and consequence. The dialogue is razor sharp, shot through with an appealingly dry wit and sparkling flashes of gallows humour.

Jonny O'Neill was born, raised, educated and is a proud product of the East End of London. Jonny was one of six writers commissioned to script for C4’s Coming Up 2014 and has now written 10 scripts for BBC 1’s EastEnders.  Previously Jonny was selected as a member of the BBC Writersroom 10 and his first play The Royal Duchess Superstore was produced in September 2014 at The Broadway Theatre, Barking and The Half Moon.

Read the full press release



The Tinniswood Award is presented annually to the best original audio drama script. The judges this year are Nicholas McInerny, Shelley Silas and Tim Stimpson. 

Read more about the 2017 shortlist


Produced by Nicolas Jackson, Afonica, 84’, BBC Radio 3

As a ghost story it drew on many of the filmic and literary tropes of the genre, but nonetheless created a unique sonic journey that felt entirely suited to the medium. Masterfully constructed, the tone, sounds and melodies leapt off every single page. It will haunt our imaginations for a long time.


A HISTORY OF PAPER by Oliver Emanuel

Directed by Kirsty Williams, BBC Radio Drama Glasgow, 43’, BBC Radio 4                   

This was a play written in the form of a scrapbook that dared to put one of the most seismic events of recent history (9/11) at its heart, but never allowed it to overwhelm the highly personal and beautifully drawn love story. As such it was a refreshingly unfamiliar take on the familiar themes of love, loss and memory.


COMMENT IS FREE by James Fritz

Produced by Becky Ripley,  BBC Radio & Music Bristol, 45’, BBC Radio 4

In the wake of the murder of Jo Cox, this diamond sharp exploration of the current state of public debate couldn’t have been more prescient. Acutely observed and not without humour, we particularly admired how the scale of its construction combined with the efficiency of its storytelling. A brave and provocative Afternoon Play.


Read more about the Imison Award and the Tinniswood Award.