The 2021 British Podcast Awards powered by Amazon Music took place in Brockwell Park, hosted by Jordan North, William Hanson and Poppy Jay, alongside the biggest names in podcasting such as Fearne Cotton (pictured above), Jessie Ware, Oti Mabuse, My Dad Wrote A Porno, Vick Hope, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Kurupt FM, No Such Thing As A Fish and Deborah Frances-White.
It was a knock-out evening for VENT Documentaries, a podcast that shares the formative experiences of young people in the London borough of Brent. They pick up three awards - Smartest Podcast, Best Documentary and the prestigious Podcast of the Year, an award won by Brown Girls Do It Too in 2020 and George The Poet in 2019.
One of the biggest awards of the night, the Podcast Champion, went to Fearne Cotton, host of Happy Place, for her efforts to open up the mental health conversation and her work in the wellness podcast space, which she has not only created but truly defined. As a category with no nominees, Fearne had no idea that she was up for the award and took to the stage to saying “I’m speechless”.
The Spotlight Award, which recognises a podcast reaching the masses and was presented by Vick Hope, was awarded to Grounded with Louis Theroux, the first season of which showcased a brilliant selection of high profile guests who open up in unexpected and vulnerable ways.
Moment of the Year was awarded to Where Is George Gibney? while last year’s Spotlight Award winner, Deborah Frances-White, presented Best Arts & Culture podcast to Real Dictators. Best Interview went to Dead Honest while the fresh, diverse and creative Tough Talks from Hits Radio Pride pinched the top spot in the Best Sex & Relationships category. Who Killed CJ Davis? was chosen as Best True Crime.
In one of three new categories for 2021, Stolen Goodbyes won Best Lockdown podcast, which tells the stories of those who died from Covid-19 without having the chance to say goodbye. Best New podcast went to Field Recordings, a perfectly timed and beautifully produced podcast transporting listeners to the great outdoors whilst being confined to their own homes.
The only award voted for by the public, the Listeners’ Choice Award saw over 140,000 votes cast. The top spot this year was won by RedHanded podcast, with Sha//ed Married Annoyed taking silver place and Football Weekly in bronze.
The full list of winners are below.
The Listeners Choice, supported by BBC Sounds - RedHanded The true crime podcast hosted by Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala came runners up in this category during the British Podcast Awards 2020. This year they came up top!
Moment of the Year (supported by Acast) - Where is George Gibney? In this powerful and important podcast series, reporter Mark Hogan tracked down the disgraced former Irish Olympic coach George Gibney, who disappeared from public view after he was accused of child sexual abuse. The judges said that the series “highlights the power of podcasting beyond the medium” and that “it had an impact in educating a wider audience and seeking justice for survivors.”
Best Arts & Culture Podcast (supported by Create Podcast) – Real Dictators Narrated by the actor Paul McGann, this documentary series explores the lives of authoritarian and despotic leaders throughout history, as well as today. “This podcast had us hooked,” said our judges. They praised the balance of facts and expert opinion and said that the podcast provides listeners with a front seat to history.
Best Branded Content (supported by Acast Creative) - Gardening with the RHS This gardening podcast by the Royal Horticultural Society features advice and interviews with horticultural experts. The experts said that this podcast equally engages new and established gardeners and that it contained “an assortment of beautifully told, diverse, relatable and heartfelt stories. It is a deserving winner.”
Best Business Podcast (supported by Wondery) – Doing It For The Kids This podcast presented by Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland features advice and interviews for parents, who also happen to be freelancers. The judges said that it was “a funny, intelligent, interactive podcast series that totally understands its target audience.” They added that the podcast was particularly valuable during a lockdown year.
Best Comedy Podcast (supported by Stitcher) – Kurupt FM This Audible series features the stars of the BBC show People Just Do Something attempting to make their own podcast, parodying the whole medium in the process. The judges said that it was “a show whose effortless humour in its characters provided serious laugh-out-loud comedy.”
Best Current Affairs Podcast – Your Broccoli Weekly The weekly news review programme hosted by journalist Diyora Shadijanova and created by the small audio production company Broccoli was awarded the top prize, beating many current affair shows created by larger providers. The judges praised the stories covered and the perspectives given. “The fact that a small team has been able to pull something off to this standard is really impressive,” they said.
Best Daily Podcast (supported by Spotify) – The Intelligence The podcast by the weekly newspaper The Economist mixes captivating storytelling and immersive sound to cover an important issue in only twenty minutes. The judges said that this mixture “adds depth to the reporting heard.”
Best Documentary Podcast – VENT Documentaries This partnership between VICE UK and the London Borough of Brent consists of young people being given microphones and asked to report on the stories that matter to them. The judges were impressed that it amplified voices and perspectives usually ignored by more mainstream outlets. “The host displays incisive journalistic skills which disarm the interviewees and enlighten the listeners,” they added.
Best Entertainment Podcast (supported by Amazon Music) – Stars In Your Ears An interview podcast hosted by Spitting Image impressionist Jess Robinson, came out top in a fiercely competitive category. A lot was down to the host Robinson herself. “It’s clear that the host spends every second on this podcast having fun with a total commitment of creativity, energy and ambition to the podcast from all involved,” they said. “It was topped off with outstanding production values that exemplify what is possible in the very best entertainment podcasts.”
Best Family Podcast – Maddie’s Sound Explorers This podcast features Maddie Moate exploring the sounds many of us hear every day (from the sound of rain to cats purring), followed by interviews with an expert who deals with that sound every day. And at the end of each episode Maddie creates a song featuring the sound. The judges were seriously impressed: “The show demonstrates incredible editing, fabulous soundscape, an artful touch that created a beautiful, crazy symphony for the ears.”
Best Fiction Podcast – This Thing of Darkness This tense fictional BBC Radio 4 drama series explores a victim’s family coming to terms with a murder, as well as the perpetrators who committed the crime. Its emphasis is how the impact of a crime can be life changing and life lasting. “Although it’s a hard listen, it’s a powerful and disturbing podcast that speaks to the complexity and contradiction of human existence and relationships,” the judges said. “It is an illuminating and worthwhile listen.”
Best International Podcast (supported by Podfront UK) – Revisionist History This American podcast features the author and thinker Malcolm Gladwell revisiting a period of history that he thinks has been misunderstood. “Revisionist History is storytelling at its finest,” said our judges. “Every line earns its place and all the speakers remind us that we are all connected through our past, revealed through each unfolding narrative.”
Best Interview Podcast (supported by Podbible) – Dead Honest This podcast by George Vestey features interviews with those who deal with the dead and dying, from chaplains who support train drivers on our railways, to police divers who recover bodies from seas. The judges said that in a fiercely competitive category, this series stood out because of its sensitivity and care given. “The interviews were so varied, so authentic, and tackled very dark subjects that most of us hope we will never have to face. The host was never afraid to ask difficult questions with genuine interest.”
Best Lockdown Podcast (supported by Amazon Music) – Stolen Goodbyes Presented by journalist Karen Rice, this series documents the pain and loss of losing someone to covid, through conversations with a relative or friend of someone who has. The judges said that it was a touching and heartfelt production that gave a voice to the statistics of lives lost you often see listed in news headlines.
Best New Podcast (supported by Audible) - Field Recordings This podcast features uninterrupted nature recordings from all over the UK. The judges said that the podcast was highly unique and “arrived at exactly the right time, transporting listeners and immersing them in outdoor sounds just as they were confined to their homes.” They also praised the production and atmosphere.
Best Radio Podcast (supported by DTS AutoStage) – The Skewer This podcast cannot be described easily. In its most simplest form, it is a surreal take on the week’s news from a rich re-editing of the week’s news by the comedian Jon Holmes. The judges described it as “a breathtaking, stop-what-you’re-doing show that’s equal parts hilarious and nightmarish, contemporaneous and timeless.”
Best Sex & Relationships Podcast – Tough Talks from Hits Radio Pride This podcast by the commercial broadcaster Hits Radio Pride features members from the LGBTQ+ community talking about a tough conversation they have had with someone else in their past, touching on themes of gender, sexuality and identity. The judges praised its emotional and human connection. They also said that the series “exemplified creativity through a fresh format.”
Smartest Podcast (supported by Podfollow) – VENT Documentaries A second win for the podcast partnership between London Borough of Brent and VICE UK. “As well as being original, compelling and creatively produced, this podcast has empowered a group of young people with the skills and confidence needed to become the next generation of audio producers,” the judges said.
Best Sport Podcast – GIANT – A Spotify Original This Spotify Original football podcast hosted by Owen Blackhurst was described by the judges as being “head, shoulders and the hand of Maradona above the others.” In particular, they said that the show’s love of football and its culture shined through.
Best True Crime Podcast – Reporter - Who Killed CJ Davis? This investigative series by The Times journalist John Simpson looked into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 14 year old CJ Davis, who lived in Newham, East London. The judges said that this was a genre that changed perceptions of what a true crime podcast series could be. They said that it was “a remarkably personal investigation into an all too familiar story – adding in the impact on the loved ones of the people involved, and highlighting the devastation of every event of this kind.”
Best Wellbeing Podcast – Discovering Dementia After her mother’s diagnosis of dementia, the broadcaster Penny Bell created this podcast series for those who are also going through similar. It was praised by the judges for providing a vital resource and for shining a light on something that is often a lonely experience. “We haven’t heard this kind of show anywhere else,” they said.
Best Podcast Network – Economist Radio This category does not only judge podcast content, but also looks at business models that these podcast companies operate within. Economist Radio, who make podcasts for The Economist weekly newspaper, were awarded the top prize. The judges praised how central their podcasting is to their editorial and business operation.
Best Welsh Podcast – Dewr This mental health podcast came top overall. The judges said that “the presenter skilfully interviewed her guests about their personal, challenging and often difficult and personal stories. She allowed the conversations to flow naturally and organically – and knew when to intervene and share and when to keep quiet; a rare skill.”
Spotlight Award (supported by Global) – Grounded With Louis Theroux This award celebrates podcasts doing excellent things with massive audiences. The award went to Louis Theroux, with his BBC Sounds interview series that first launched over lockdown. The judges said that the series “creates very impactful conversations on often crucial topics.”
Bullseye Podcast (supported by Global) – SomeFamilies This award celebrates smaller shows that are meeting and exceeding audience’s needs. The award was given to SomeFamilies, an LGBTQ+ parenting podcast. “What impresses most about the presenters is just how eloquent they are,” the judges said.
Creativity Podcast (supported by Audible) – Interconnected Voices This podcast amplifies political commentary and news analysis from underrepresented voices in British media. The judges said that the podcast was a “very worthy gold winner” for its depth in its political reporting and handling of important issues.
And finally … Podcast of the Year (supported by Sony Music’s Fourth Floor Creative) – VENT Documentaries The winner of Best Documentary and Smartest Podcast were also awarded the British Podcast Awards most coveted prize, the Podcast of the Year award. This partnership between VICE UK and the London Borough of Brent features young people being asked to report on the stories they want, covering broad topics on identity, love and justice.
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