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 that you are invited to nominate programmes for. They are:


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.

In our first round, we would like you to nominate these productions. Nominations will run until end of July, while voting and judging starts in August. The ceremony will take place in Liverpool on 27 September.

Programmes must be British and be made or screened between April 2020 and June 2021.

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

Comfort TV Award

children watching televisionThe 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 inform ourselves, and some gave us comfort by providing us with the familiar or with a sense that we were all in this together. Which programme was this for you?

We invite the public to nominate the programme that they most turned to during the Covid-19 pandemic to help them cope. Please use the QR code below or enter the number 187-664-855 at start.

Comfort Television Nomination Start Image

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.

We invite production companies to nominate the productions they felt were particularly successful in negotiating health and safety for their productions. Productions need to be British and made between April 2020 and June 2021. To start the nomination, either use the QR code below or enter the number 183-374-845 at

Covid Safe TV Production Nomination Start Image

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.

We invite the public to nominate television drama that was particularly successful at telling its stories in ways that were Covid safe. Productions need to have been shot between April 2020 and June 2021 and need to be British. To start the nomination, use the QR code below or enter the number 147-484-167 into

Covid Writing Nomination Start Image

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.

We ask students, colleges, universities and schools to nominate their Covid-restrictions produced television programmes. Productions need to have been shot between April 2020 and June 2021 and need to be made by students enrolled during that time at a British school, college or university. To start the nomination, use the QR code below or enter the number 127-694-898 into


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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