Indies win national radio ‘Oscars’

Bob Hill teaching Katie Burningham to dance. Photo: Falling Tree

Small indy production organisations in the Lewisham area and Hackney have beaten multi-billion pound global media groups to win two prestigious Sony Radio awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

Falling Tree Productions, operating out of Lewisham and Greenwich, won Gold Medal for Best Feature for the documentary ‘Heel, Toe, Step Together’ first broadcast on BBC Radio Four on 6th December last year.

The progamme was produced by Goldsmiths MA Radio alumna, Katie Burningham. It will be repeated on Sunday 15th May at 1.30pm.

Katie Burningham: award-winning radio producer. Photo: Falling Tree

Heel, Toe, Step Together tells the story of how Katie was taught dancing by 86 year old Bob Hill after a chance meeting in a market in East London. The BBC publicity for the programme said their “unlikely friendship blossomed through dance.” Mr Hill, who lives in Hackney, has been dancing since he was 16 and has always been a maestro in the ballroom.

Katie is a “self-confessed bad dancer” and the programme “brings together recordings of their dancing and explores why it is that Bob, and Katie, need to dance. Touching on themes of loss, loneliness, love and affection” it “reveals how, through music and movement, friendship can bridge generations.”

In this extract from the feature Mr. Hill talks about his childhood and Katie remembers the first times she danced:

The Guardian critic Elizabeth Maloney said “It’s the best radio programme I’ve heard this year.” She enthused:

This is superb radio with a big heart and the confidence to tell its story lyrically and gently. Technically, it’s terrific as a feature, but the main pleasure here is the charismatic, instantly engrossing way in which Burningham charts the merry dance of friendship and love.

Katie Burningham won a prestigious Charles Parker student feature award while completing her MA at Goldsmiths and joined Falling Tree after graduating with a distinction. The company is regarded as one of the world’s leading radio production companies and is run by associate lecturer in creative radio at Goldsmiths, Alan Hall.

The Sony judges at last night’s high profile ceremony in London’s West End said:

An incredible piece of radio, compelling, innovative and touching. This feature found the epic in the everyday, uncovering the richness of ordinary lives. Speech radio at it’s very finest.

Another East London Lines winner at the annual radio “Oscars” was the Hackney Podcast, the much admired creative online audio community platform founded by Francesca Panetta. It took silver medal for Best Internet programme for “Night in Hackney” which the judges said was:

An imaginative and creative podcast that reveals hitherto unknown details about the borough. A magical listen with a great soundscape that uses the fluid structures of a podcast to let strong themes and characters develop.

Hackney Podcast founder Francesca Panetta audio interviewing. Photo: Hackney Podcast

The Hackney Podcast was “set up in 2008 to record the borough’s different faces: one of Britain’s poorest places but culturally one of its richest; an area of London profoundly marked by its history but, as the Olympics loom, caught in a frenzied period of change.”

It has been garnering prestigious awards for its multi-layered creative sound productions in Britain and abroad.

Lewisham, Greenwich and Hackney are centres for a number of small but highly successful and productive independent production organisations making audio and multi-media programmes for public and commercial broadcasters throughout the world. They make a significant contribution to what is often described as the United Kingdom’s “cultural industries.”

Sony award winner Katie Burningham talks to East London Lines

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