While Hollywood was handing out Oscars to established stars on Sunday, this weekend also saw young talent from the North East recognised at the Royal Television Society Awards.
The University of Sunderland maintained its winning streak with graduates claiming two of six possible student awards at this year’s prestigious ceremony, hosted by Sky News presenter Jayne Secker.
Sunderland graduates Gary Aggett, Matthew Ellis, Jonny Pape and Helen Lumley won in the Best Student Entertainment category for their film ‘Community Radio’. The Best Student News category was claimed by Alice Winney for her reporting of the 2015 Corbridge floods.
Gary Aggett was inspired to write the comedy ‘Community Radio’ by his time working at the University community radio station, Spark. The station, based at the University’s riverside campus, gives all students at Sunderland the opportunity to get involved in all levels of radio production and broadcast.
Gary and his fellow BA Broadcast Media Production students created the sitcom pilot about a failing community radio station. The dingy station is under threat of closure and is desperate to get more listeners in order to stay afloat.
Jo McCullock, Senior Lecturer in Media at the University, said: “The group and Gary in particular were very clear about the project they wanted to make from the start – a comedy with elements of mockumentary.
“I think they have been successful in the Royal Television Society Awards because the project is very clearly for television – and it is funny!”
Gary, 22, originally from Bristol is now working as video researcher, he says: “I was pleased to hear I was nominated. I am hoping this will lead to other opportunities.”
You can view the team’s award-winning film here: https://youtube.com/watch?v=C13IHRoiAhE
Alice Winney’s award in the Best Student News category reflects the hard work and quality of her reporting whilst a student, and is something she has taken forward into her career since graduating last summer. She is now working for BBC Radio 2 for the Simon Mayo Friday Drivetime show, and as a freelance producer for BBC Radio Solent.
Alice, 22, from Lymington in Hampshire, won her award for her report on the Christmas 2015 flooding of the village of Corbridge. While studying at Sunderland Alice was also very heavily involved in Spark radio, hosting the breakfast show for two years, and winning Best Female in the 2015 Student Radio Awards.
“It was awful seeing people’s homes completely destroyed, and with it being so close to Christmas it was heart breaking to see,” says Alice. “I think I was nominated for the RTS award as I created all of the graphics and shot the entire package myself.
“The RTS award means a lot to me, as I would love a career as a reporter or producer for a news organisation.”
The University’s students and graduates have been recognised at the Royal Television Society awards in 11 of the last 13 years, with many more receiving nominations.
Graeme Thompson, Chair of the Awards and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sunderland, said: “The standard of student entries this year was extremely high. Students from the University of Sunderland were shortlisted across a number of categories and were winners in two of the six categories.
“Every year thousands of talented young media professionals graduate from our region’s universities and go to success throughout the world. The Royal Television Society awards are a wonderful springboard for those future reporters, producers and media professionals – some of whom will no doubt be picking up BAFTAs and even Oscars of their own in the next few years.”