Critical Awards in Television 2021

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The Critical Awards in Television are an award of a different kind: rather than celebrating best programme, best performance, best script it looks at what matters and is perceived as valuable in academic, public and industry debates to form its categories.

The years 2020 and 2021 were dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, the CATS 2021 offer four Covid-related categories, they are:


Voting is now open! Cast your vote now! Voting closes on 20 September.

Voting is open

children watching television

The Comfort TV Award will go to the television that helped us cope during the pandemic. During lockdown we watched more television than we have been for a long time. Television became central in how we informed ourselves about the world. But most of all, television helped us cope. Some programmes inspired us to learn, some to educate ourselves, and some gave us comfort by providing us with the familiar or with a sense that we were all in this together.

You have nominated your comfort television – now it’s time to vote which one gave you most comfort of our shortlist of 6. The shortlist includes Colours, Gardeners’ World, Grayson’s Art Club, The Great British Bake Off and Staged. For more information about each programme, please go to the shortlist tab.

Please use the QR code below or enter the number 195-874-377 at start.

September 2021


The Shortlist

Colours is a children’s programme that is meant to teach children about the different colours of the rainbow, but does so gently and meditatively. Another example of the BBC’s excellent children’s programming, it is an inhouse production that was most certainly not only enjoyed by children – but by them too.

Gardeners’ World is a BBC Studios Production that has been on air since 1968. During lockdown, it managed to keep going, first by getting family involved in filming, then by installing remote cameras and inviting viewers to send in their videos of their gardens. As a result, a real sense of community emerged around Gardeners’ World, that gave us all a sense of world-wide being in this together, as well as calming our nerves with images of beautiful nature.

Grayson’s Art Club got us all involved in arts, and moreover, managed to get everyone involved in the programme together for a final joint exhibition that clearly moved Grayson Perry as much as many of the participants. It’s a Swan Films Production for Channel 4.

The Great British Bake Off has been celebrated in the press for its comforting messages before, but these became even more important as we entered national lockdown. A Love Production for Channel 4, the series got everyone to self-isolate for 10 days before production began, and then not only gave us cakes to feast our eyes on, but something to make us laugh out loud.

Staged acknowledged what lockdown was like – by showing us how it might affect two of our favourite actors, namely David Tennant and Michael Sheen. I am sure most of us recognised some of Sheen’s increasingly wild locks in the hair of our own families, or indeed the increasing sense of madness that it was hard to snap out of.



children watching televisionWhat do we love about television? What do we value about television? According to most traditional awards, it’s the writing, the acting, the costume design. All of these are important to make great television. But what we value about television is often other things: that it gives us comfort in troubling times such as the Covid pandemic. That it is made even within difficult circumstances, including during social distancing. Who wasn’t grateful to all the contestants who were willing to self-isolate so they could be on this show or that? And who wasn’t glad that the same faces continued to come into our homes, even if those faces suddenly came from their back gardens or home offices.

The Critical Awards in Television want to celebrate television in the way that we value it: this year, by drawing attention to the service it has rendered to us by giving us comfort during Covid, by celebrating those productions that came up with clever ways of dealing with Covid restrictions so that they could continue to be made, by celebrating writers who found alternative ways of telling stories and by celebrating future television makers (who are currently students) who have come up with clever ways of making television in these difficult times.

Our nominations are now closed, but we now invite the public to vote for the most comforting of Comfort Television as it has been nominated by you.

The CATS are a collaboration between the Television Studies Research Group of the Department of Creative Arts at Edge Hill University, Critical Studies in Television, the Production Guild, the Institute for Social Responsibility and Love Wavertree.

The award ceremony will take place on the 27th September 2021 in Wavertree Town Hall, Liverpool


Awards Ceremony

The Critical Awards in Television celebrate television in ways that are not often considered by other awards. This year, it’s all about the fact that television kept going during a pandemic that forced us all to stay at home.

The Award Ceremony will this year take place on 27th September 2021, from 6.00 – 8.30pm at Wavertree Town Hall, Liverpool. We are restricted to 60 spaces to keep the awards Covid-safe. Attendance at the ceremony is free and will include a drinks reception. Dress code is smart.

We can offer 2 spaces per party. Please register as soon as possible to guarantee your space. Registration will stay open until 20 September, unless spaces are taken. If, for any reasons, you cannot attend after all, please let us know asap, so that we can open it up to others.

Tickets can be found  here:

If you have any questions, please contact Elke Weissmann (

Covid Health and Safety Award

Covid Safe TV ProductionThe Covid Pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the production of television. Social distancing is difficult to achieve on set, and yet, many productions have managed to produce television nevertheless, often by careful planning and rethinking production strategies. This is the award that celebrates this achievement.



Writing and Production Designing for Covid Award

Covid WritingWhen Covid struck, the assumption was that all television productions would have to be stopped. But writers soon came up with clever ways of telling their stories in Covid-safe ways, or production designers translated the scripts in such ways as to make it Covid-safe and added something in the process. You might have marvelled at sparse sets, the use of the great outdoors or the shift to more character-based and dialogue-heavy scripts. All of these would have been part of this. This is our chance to celebrate the writers and production designers who have done a particular good job at doing this.



Covid Student Production Award

Student AwardIt wasn’t just the industry that had to negotiate Covid restrictions; but our aspiring television makers too have been busy working out how to still produce work when normal ways of working are not possible. Some of them have cleverly made use of the restrictions in order to create intelligent, moving and just wonderful programmes. This is what we want to celebrate, and importantly, we are not alone in that.

This award will be judged by officers of the Production Guild, the industry body set up to represent production personnel, including production coordinators, production managers and producers. For them, it’s all about negotiating restrictions and limitations of budget, legislation, health and safety and the creative processes of television production. This has never been more important than during Covid. A student production who uses the limitations creatively to produce an interesting programme is therefore a particular good reason to celebrate.




For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Department of Creative Arts ( or Elke Weissmann (

To find out more about the Television Studies Research Group, please visit their web pages.

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