TINNISWOOD AWARD 2019 SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED

08 January 2019

The 2019 shortlist has been announced for the ALCS-sponsored Tinniswood Award, which was set up by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors in memory of scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood and celebrates the best original scripts for audio drama.

The winner will be announced at the BBC Audio Drama Awards on 3 February 2019 and will receive a prize of £3,000. Last year’s winner Sarah Woods is one of this year’s judges, alongside Nicholas McInerny, writer of How to Have a Perfect Marriage, and Ming Ho, writer of The Things We Never Said.

The three shortlisted writers and scripts are:

WHEN THE PIPS STOP by Oliver Emanuel

Produced by Kirsty Williams, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: “This beautifully written and highly original play explores what happens when two sisters who live together on a remote Scottish island, and haven’t spoken for years, find themselves to be – possibly – the only survivors of the end of the world.

“Every part of this play is technically assured and fully realised. It creates an experience that is both extraordinary and utterly recognisable, enabling us to reflect on the current state of the world through a domestic, intimate story.

“The characters are compelling and believable in a drama rich with subtext and metaphor. The sparse and finely worked language is beautifully poetic and deeply human. Its use of the form is inspiring.”

Oliver Emanuel is an internationally award-winning playwright who has written over 40 plays for stage and radio. Flight won a Herald Angel at the Edinburgh International Festival 2017; his version of Jan Sobrie’s Titus won The People’s Choice Victor Award at IPAY 2015; while Dragon won Best Show for Children and Young People at the UK Theatre Awards in 2014. He was a lead writer on Blood, Sex and Money by Emile Zola, which won Best Adaptation at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2017. He is a Reader in Playwriting, University of St Andrews, an Associate Playwright, Playwrights’ Studio Scotland, and Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library.

PLAYING DEAD by Vivienne Harvey

Produced by Nadia Molinari, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: “This absorbing, convincing and moving drama tells the story of Roza, a young woman adoptee from Manchester, who returns to Iraqi Kurdistan, the country she fled as a child, when her birth father’s remains are found in a mass grave.

“Through beautifully realised characters and economic, highly specific storytelling, which shows a detailed knowledge of the factual background, the author weaves a story of emotional and political depth with real dexterity.

“This drama drew us into its journey – an immersive experience that created strong empathy with the characters. This is a visually, emotionally, and sensually vivid drama, with a fantastic sense of place.”

Vivienne Harvey is an award-winning writer and alumni of Channel 4 Screenwriting 2015. Her first television commission Eighteen, for Jimmy McGovern’s BBC One drama series Moving On, won an RTS Award in 2018. She wrote the final two episodes of Radio 4 crime serial Stone, which is shortlisted for a BBC Audio Drama Award and a Writers’ Guild Award 2019. Playing Dead, her first original drama for Radio 4, was inspired by a trip to Iraq and the legacy of Kurdistan. She is currently developing original television series with Carnival Films and The Forge and writing episodes on Clink for 5 Star and Harlots for Hulu.

HOLBEIN’S SKULL by Martyn Wade

Produced by Tracey Neale, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: “This cleverly wrought, original, and vivacious drama takes us back to 1533, to explore an imagined story behind Holbein’s much-debated painting The Ambassadors.

“A witty, lively and thoroughly entertaining play. The characters are colourful and scenes are exquisitely constructed, exploring the politics of love and desire – requited, unrequited and forbidden.

“The story reveals itself subtly, with elegance and great pace, managing to tell us something of our contemporary world through a painting created almost 500 years ago.”

Martyn Wade has written many plays and adaptations for radio. His original play for radio, Singles and Doublets, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and won David Troughton a Best Supporting Actor Award in the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2013. It starred Celia Imrie, Alex Jennings and Geoffrey Whitehead. Martyn wrote five series of The Little Ottleys for BBC Radio 4, and recent credits include Hide the Moon, The Healing of Sergei Rachmaninov, Moeran’s Last Symphony and The Wells Way, which starred Julian Rhind-Tutt and Joseph Millson.

For further information on the Awards can be found on the Writers’ Guild website.

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing writers for TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames. It negotiates national agreements on pay and conditions with key industry bodies, including BBC, ITV and Pact; the Royal Court, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. It campaigns and lobbies on behalf of writers and offers a range of benefits to its members, including free contract vetting, support and advice; events and discounts; free training; a weekly ebulletin; a pension scheme and welfare fund.

Society of Authors

Society of Authors (SoA) is a trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, and has been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. The SoA administers many other prizes for poetry, the short story, fiction and non-fiction, including the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It distributed more than £575,000 in prizes and grants in 2018.


We are currently holding around £120,000 worth of secondary royalties for radio writers who are not yet members and have paid out around £230,000 to 1,600 radio writers in the last year alone. If you know anyone who has contributed to a radio script and is not yet a member of ALCS, please encourage them to join today!