Charles Parker Prize – nominees 2021

On 5 April, the anniversary of Charles Parker’s birth, we announced the top ten prize nominees for this year’s Charles Parker Prize as below.  A video featuring these nominees being interviewed by Sara Parker will be broadcast on Friday 16 April, and the five winners will be announced on Friday 23 April – the five winning features will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at the end of July.  Look out for further announcements on the Prize facebook page and the Trust’s twitter feed.

This year the judges were Mair Bosworth, Mukti Jane Campion, Charlotte Runcie, Philip Sellars and Simon Elmes (chair).  Here are full details and the judges’ citations for all the nominees (in no particular order)

THE BATHING PLACE
Hunter Charlton (Goldsmiths)

The judges very much liked this programme about Oxford’s nude male bathing place, Parson’s Pleasure: ‘a lovely idea, beautifully explored and well told with great use of music;’ a ‘rather nice take’, with a ‘really effective blend of testimonies, archive, texts, sound design and script.’ It was ‘a lovely engrossing listen, with a great mix of oral history, music, poetry and effects. The feature wore its research lightly but was deeply enriched by it.’ ‘It’s witty as well and navigates the history without plodding… Fine work.’

IMAD AL-SULIMAN’S JOURNEY OF DEATH
Ben Tulloh (Goldsmiths)

The judges liked this ‘powerful first-person narrative’ of a refugee’s journey to safety in Europe. ‘Sound effects created an eerie sense of liminality and suspense’ … ‘an atmospheric and poetic treatment of an important contemporary story’. ‘Imad has a good warm voice, and his reading is well inflected and powerful’. It was ‘really well made with some great use of subtle sound design and music and well-recorded interview and script.’

OUTSIDER SISTERS
Chantal Herbert (Sunderland)

‘This collage of voices of black women talking about their place in contemporary Britain, their fears, demands and injustices is remarkable’ said the judges, praising its ‘powerful first-person accounts and good use of music and poetry.’ ‘It had a great flow and groove (excellent use of speech against music) which for me made it a bettter listen than some of the more polished pieces’. They praised its ‘skilled and creative use of medium and vivid contributions… A lovely piece.’

‘HE’S ONLY A CLEANER’
Emma Millen (Sunderland)

This is a powerful piece of testimony to front-line workers by an articulate industrial cleansing operative. ‘It was a compelling account of working life in the best Charles Parker Radio Ballad tradition and captured the hardship and heartache of this Covid year perfectly’; ‘a refreshing perspective on the role of key workers in the pandemic, and a moving interview very well done’… ‘where the subject opens up and…which the producer has edited well – choosing clips carefully and setting them in an order that unfolds the story and deepens our understanding’; ‘its simplicity is its strength. A very strong entry.’

READ MY LIPS
Isobel Howe (UWE)

The judges liked this ‘beautifully told personal story’ of a woman who was born with a cleft palate. They praised its ‘strong opening’; it was ‘completely absorbing… I liked the arc of the story and what I learned’, ‘a beautifully told personal story which does a good job of broadening out the topic and bringing light and shade.’ It consisted of ‘a touching interview with some visceral and moving moments’; ‘Danielle, the subject and principal speaker, is articulate, funny and open… The programme has very good use of pace and pauses. This is an assured piece.’

BEYOND THE COLD
Kate White (UWE)

This is the story of Rowan, a formerly troubled woman with body-image issues, who found solace in cold-water swimming. This was, according to the judges ‘a contemporary idea developed with a lovely rhythm and sense of poetry and appreciation of sound’; they liked its ‘well recorded actuality…a beautifully mixed piece’; ‘the use of readings about water adds a degree of serenity and otherness…’ with ‘a lovely rhythm and sense of poetry and appreciation of sound.’

40 YEARS ON – REMEMBERING THE NEW CROSS FIRE
Magdalena Moursy (Goldsmiths)

The judges praised “an extremely moving and well-crafted feature that is true to the spirit of Charles Parker while doing something fresh and entirely its own.” They appreciated the feature’s “utterly compelling storytelling from start to finish with confident interplay of voices and music.” “There are some wonderful voices and moments in this documentary” commented another judge, “the use of poetry and music is incredibly powerful and creates some memorable moments.” “The story unfolds beautifully,” said one juror, “with a broad scope and well-explored context given for racism in Britain, backgrounding a sharp focus on the individual experience.” A third praised the programme’s “beautifully recorded testimonies about a chapter of the UK’s history that deserves to be much better known.”  “I loved it.”

A DOCTOR AND A VIOLIN
Mariana Araújo Ramos Maia Gonçalves (Goldsmiths)

 The judges called this ‘an anthem to life’, ‘a beautifully unfolding story with good use of music and sound effects which takes you through the emotional highs and lows of an Intensive Care specialist’s job’. It was, said one, ‘excellent…deserves its place,’ ‘the music is very strong and well-used’ commented another; ‘a simple idea done w ell – good contributor, beautiful music, very well developed and told.’

FINDING MY FREQUENCY
Shelley Gates (Salford)

This confidently presented documentary about high-functioning autism in the media was, according to the judges, a ‘well-told personal story with energy and good pace.’ It was ‘interesting to hear a piece from an autistic person’s perspective, rather than about an autistic person by a neurotypical person. Well scripted and presented with some playful, interesting use of sound.’ They praised its ‘engrossing start, interesting content’; ‘an articulate and punchy professional piece with high production values.’

MAKE IT HAPPEN
Stephen Bissett (Sunderland)

‘This is in many ways an amazing programme’, commented one judge. “Its central character and narrator, Stephen, is remarkably powerful,’ and, said another, ‘I loved the actuality the producer had captured and thought it was composed in a really interesting, original way that felt true to the spirit of Charles Parker.’ A third called it a ‘very well developed and told story with a lovely pace, sound texture and scope to it, with great use of music, conversation and contributors.’ The sound quality was in places a little poor, but ‘this is a brilliant, if flawed, piece of work.’

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