Dua Lipa, Sam Mendes, Samuel Bailey, I May Destroy You and Ghosts scoop top accolades at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2021

Monday 19 July 2021

Today’s 25th Anniversary South Bank Sky Arts Awards, the first in-person awards ceremony post-pandemic at The Savoy, saw a host of artists and projects from the entire spectrum of the Arts celebrated for their achievements in the past 12 months. This year’s recipient of the coveted Outstanding Achievement Award was Grayson Perry.

Presented and edited by Melvyn Bragg, The South Bank Sky Arts Awards continued its legacy as the only awards ceremony in the world to celebrate the complete range of the Arts, with categories for TV Drama, Classical Music, Theatre, Comedy, Dance, Film, Visual Art, Pop, Literature and Opera.

Singer and songwriter Dua Lipa took home the Pop award for Future Nostalgia, her sensationally popular album which received critical acclaim across the board. The universally renowned and multi-award winning I May Destroy You was victorious in the TV Drama category, meanwhile Hamnet, a fictional account of Shakespeare's family life by Maggie O’Farrell, scooped the Literature prize.

Winners on the day also included the hugely popular, hilarious series Ghosts for Comedy, the eloquently poised Scherzo by The Royal Ballet for Dance and the multi-faceted Rocks for Film. The Awards also celebrated emerging talent with The Times Breakthrough Award, which was presented this year to playwright Samuel Bailey, whose breakthrough play, Shook, was an immediate sensation after a sell-out run at Southwark Playhouse and a national tour.

This year there were two additional awards – The Sky Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts During The Pandemic, awarded to both an institution and an individual, to acknowledge outstanding work during the Covid-19 pandemic. Winner of The Sky Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts During The Pandemic: An Individual went to Sam Mendes for the Theatre Artists Fund; a project he helped to set up to fundraise and provide emergency short-term relief for thousands of theatre workers and freelancers across the UK affected by the crisis. Wigmore Hall took The Sky Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts During The Pandemic: An Institution, for leading the way in transmission of live performance by exceptional performers, providing a much needed morale boost for classical music lovers during the peak of the pandemic.

The ceremony saw captivating performances from singer Celeste, opera sensation Danielle de Niese, performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and a reading by Line of Duty star Kelly Macdonald. HRH The Prince of Wales also sent a special message celebrating 25 years of the Awards.

Melvyn Bragg said: “The Arts have kept up their reputation for excellence in difficult circumstances. Without question they are world class, as these Awards show.”

Phil Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts said: “We’re excited to be carefully inviting Britain’s best and brightest Arts practitioners back to the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in its 25th year. Despite the ravages of the pandemic great art continues to thrive against all odds and, more than ever, we want to celebrate all the joy the creative industries bring.”

Grayson Perry, Outstanding Achievement Award winner, said:I’ve grown up with The South Bank Show, Melvyn and Sky Arts. It feels more than any other ceremony, it’s collegiate, it’s our ceremony. The Arts, as a family. I think coming out of Covid it feels especially touching, I think that’s what’s made it so moving for me really, and I feel very proud. I also feel too young!”

THE SOUTH BANK SKY ARTS AWARDS WILL AIR ON THURSDAY 22 JULY AT 9PM ON SKY ARTS, FREEVIEW CHANNEL 11 AND NOW


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RED CARPET ARRIVALS

WINNERS PHOTOS

A full list of winners can be found below:

VISUAL ART

Presented by: Russell Tovey

Denzil Forrester: Itchin & Scratchin - Nottingham Contemporary & Spike Island, Bristol

COMEDY

Presented by: Bridget Christie

Ghosts, Series 2 - Monumental Television / BBC One

THEATRE

Presented by: Monica Dolan

Uncle Vanya (2020 Film) - Sonia Friedman Productions / Angelica Films for BBC Arts

FILM

Presented by:

Rocks

DANCE

Presented by: Matthew Bourne

Scherzo - The Royal Ballet

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Presented by: Julian Lloyd Webber

Petrenko's Mahler I & II - Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

LITERATURE

Presented by: Bernadine Evaristo

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

OPERA

Presented by: Nadine Benjamin

L’enfant et les sortilèges - VOPERA

POP

Presented by: Melvyn Bragg

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

TV DRAMA

Presented by: Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù

I May Destroy You – BBC One / HBO

THE TIMES BREAKTHROUGH AWARD

Presented by: Jimmy McGovern

Theatre – Samuel Bailey

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Presented by: Neil MacGregor

Grayson Perry

THE SKY ARTS AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN THE ARTS DURING THE PANDEMIC: AN INDIVIDUAL

Presented by: Phil Edgar-Jones

Sam Mendes

THE SKY ARTS AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN THE ARTS DURING THE PANDEMIC: AN INSTITUTION

Presented by: Phil Edgar-Jones

Wigmore Hall

For more information and photography from The South Bank Sky Arts Awards, please contact:

Premier PR

E: DCPTV@premiercomms.com

Artist’s statement

This year’s award was designed by artist Tom Dixon.

Dissatisfied with the non-functional aspects of awards trophies, Tom Dixon set out to introduce at least an inkling of useability for the trophy. Having eventually rejected a series of concepts - life size busts of the winner, funeral urns and digital photo frames, Dixon settled on a pair of champagne glasses and a bottle stopper, machined from solid aluminium.

Manufactured in a Bedfordshire precision engineering workshop, the award ends up being a close collaboration between product design and British Manufacturing using the latest digital metalwork machinery.

About Sky Arts

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.   

We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.    

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few.   

You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147.  If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.    

We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors - Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.  

About The South Bank Sky Arts Awards

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are the only Awards ceremony in the world to represent the entire spectrum of the British Arts. Previous winners across the various categories include Doctor Foster for TV Drama, Skyfall for Film, and Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies for Literature. Previous winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award include Harold Pinter, Judi Dench, J.K. Rowling, Eddie Izzard and last year Ian McKellen.

About Directors Cut Productions

Directors Cut Productions is an independent television production company based in Central London. Set up in 2010 by Melvyn Bragg and Cathy Haslam, who had worked together for 10 years at ITV, the company produces Arts and History Documentaries for UK television broadcasters. Directors Cut Productions produce all South Bank Show branded programmes for Sky Arts as well as producing The South Bank Sky Arts Awards.

www.directorscutproductions.co.uk

@dcptv_uk

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