Sheridan Smith, Toby Jones and Gogglebox win at BPG Awards with Lenny Henry given special honour

Lenny Henry was presented with the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting, while Smith and Jones picked up the best actor prizes

Sheridan Smith has won the Broadcasting Press Guild best actress award for her performance as a young Cilla Black.


The actress – who starred in ITV’s Cilla – beat off strong contenders in Line of Duty’s Keeley Hawes and Happy Valley’s Sarah Lancashire to take the prize, handed out at a ceremony on Friday at London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Also among the winners was Toby Jones, named best actor for his role as Neil Baldwin, the relentlessly upbeat kit-man at Stoke City Football Club, whose life was dramatised in Marvellous on BBC2.

Written by Peter Bowker, Marvellous also took home the award for best single drama, while another BBC2 drama, The Honourable Woman, picked up best series award in a winners’ list chosen by journalists and writers who specialise in broadcasting. 

Channel 4 claimed two awards for factual television. Benefits Street won best documentary series and Gogglebox was given the BPG prize for best factual entertainment for the second year running. The award for best single documentary went to BBC1’s Baby P: The Untold Story.

W1A, BBC2’s spoof documentary about the BBC and its management, was named best comedy, with Crackanory, the star-studded storytelling series for adults on UK TV’s Dave, winning the multichannel award.

Also honoured was Lenny Henry who won the Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting.

The comedian, actor, presenter, writer, and activist received the BPG’s highest honour on an appropriate day – Red Nose Day. 

The chairman of the BPG, Gideon Spanier, said of Henry: “Forty years ago, as a young black performer, Lenny Henry smashed stereotypes on British TV. He has gone on to star in Othello and much else – but there’s so much more to him than that. Thirty years ago, he co-founded Comic Relief which has so far raised £950 million for charity, and we’re delighted he’ll receive the award on Red Nose Day.

“There is a second reason we felt this award was particularly fitting this year. No one has done more in recent years to speak out against what he calls the ‘appalling’ lack of diversity in broadcasting. His campaigning has at last started to pay off, as all the major broadcasters have pledged to meet new targets in the last few months.”

The winners in full :

Best Factual Entertainment 


(Studio Lambert for Channel 4)

Best Single Drama


(Fifty Fathoms/Tiger Aspect for BBC Two)

Best Drama Series

The Honourable Woman

(Drama Republic and Eight Rooks for BBC Two)

Best Single Documentary

Baby P: The Untold Story

(Sandpaper Films for BBC One)

Best Documentary Series

Benefits Street

(Love Productions for Channel 4)

Best Multichannel Programme


(Tiger Aspect for UKTV Dave)

Radio Programme of the Year

Germany: Memories of A Nation

(BBC Radio Production in partnership with the British Museum for BBC Radio 4)

Radio Broadcaster of the Year

Jane Garvey – Woman’s Hour

(BBC Radio & Music Production for BBC Radio 4)

Best Entertainment/Comedy


(BBC Two)

Writer’s Award

Sally Wainwright

(Last Tango In Halifax and Happy Valley for BBC One)

Best Actress

Sheridan Smith

(Cilla Black in Cilla & Claire Webster in The Widower)

Best Actor

Toby Jones

(Neil Baldwin in Marvellous & Lance in Detectorists)

Breakthrough Award

Harry and Jack Williams, writers of The Missing

(New Pictures, Company Pictures and Two Brothers Pictures for BBC One)

Innovation in Broadcasting Award

Vice News for The Islamic State and other original commissions

Harvey Lee Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting


Lenny Henry