Radio Times Screen Test Awards

Radio Times announces winners of the inaugural Screen Test Awards

Wednesday 8 November, 2023

Radio Times has revealed the winners of The Screen Test Awards, celebrating the television and radio programmes that have made a positive impact on people’s well-being over the last twelve months.

The Screen Test Awards were announced in a special ceremony on Tuesday evening (7 November) at Two Temple Place, London, hosted by author, journalist and podcaster, Elizabeth Day, and Claudia Hammond, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s All In the Mind and Visiting Professor of Psychology at Sussex University, in front of an invited audience from the broadcasting industry; including Taskmaster’s Greg Davies and Alex Horne, Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne, Strictly Come Dancing head judge, Shirley Ballis and All Creature’s Great and Small stars Callum Woodhouse and Nicholas Ralph.

The inaugural awards were based on the findings of The Screen Test, a ground-breaking research project conducted by Radio Times, in association with the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton exploring the power of television and radio in people’s lives. Conducted from May-July 2023 as part of Radio Times’ centenary celebration, with more than 21,000 respondents, the first results of The Screen Test have revealed that despite the age-old adage that TV is bad for you, watching television can help us feel good.

The Radio Times Screen Test Award Winners 2023 (judges’ comments below):

The Happy TV Award: Taskmaster

Praised by the judges for “combining good humoured competition with an amiable spirit of daftness that never fails to put a smile on your face.”

The Empathy Award for Drama: Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley

The judges’ commented: “Cawood attracted levels of empathy that go far beyond the normal response to a television drama, you feel that you are with her all the way through.”

The Watercooler Award: Succession

“This series actively created watercooler moments week after week, with its whip-smart script and relentless scrutiny of the perils of privilege, brought to life by outstanding performances that meant that in 2023 no other show was more talked about.”

The Reith Award – Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland

“We’ve never learnt so much from one series. You can’t stop watching it because of the way it tells ordinary peoples’ stories, which are compelling. It informs by inviting viewers to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, which takes us beyond the politics and the headlines.”

The Stress Buster Award – All Creatures Great and Small

“The escapism and values at the heart of this show take us to another time and place. It is the perfect distraction from our troubles today. The human interactions capture our imagination but it is the connection with animals that capture our hearts. Watch this for an hour and it will blow away all the stresses of modern life.”

Trust Award for Audio – Desert Island Discs

“The format may be familiar but every now and the audience hears a moment that is so revealing it stops them – and sometimes the nation – in their tracks, often reaffirming our trust in humanity and the world.”

Best Box Set – A Spy Among Friends

“Despite being about a chapter in history that we thought we knew, the script and outstanding performances turned this story into a very human drama with friendship and betrayal at its heart.”

Judges Award – Strictly Come Dancing

“Since the autumn of 2004 one show has been warming the nation’s hearts as the nights grow colder and the darkness creeps in. Through banking crashes and austerity, divisions over Brexit, the fear of a pandemic and privations of lockdowns, the cost of living crisis… this show has kept on dancing, lifting our spirits with its celebration of good-natured competition, human endeavour and the joy of joining in. Nothing takes us to another place and puts a smile on our face quicker than the gleam of the sequins and the first notes of the band.”

The categories for The Screen Test – The Happy TV Award, The Empathy Award for Drama, The Watercooler Award, The Reith Award, The Stress Buster Award, Trust Award for Audio, Best Box Set – were informed by the findings of the research which revealed: television increased happiness levels and reduced anxiety; binge-watchers are more empathetic; that the watercooler moment still existed in the streaming age; Reithian values still hold true in the digital age, the primary motivations for watching TV is to be entertained and informed; and trust in people, overall well-being and life satisfaction are associated with greater radio listening (see the full breakdown of the findings below).

The shortlists for each category were decided by Radio Times readers, with an expert judging panel, including Elizabeth Day, Claudia Hammond and Radio Times joint editors, Tom Loxley and Shem Law, deciding the overall winners, plus the Judges’ Awards, recognising the television programme that has made an outstanding contribution to the nation’s well-being over more than the last 12 months.

“From our readers and users we know plenty about what people think about TV and radio – good, bad or indifferent – but very little about how it makes them feel, and so The Screen Test was born. We discovered that things like trust, entertainment and information really matter to viewers and listeners, as do emotions such as empathy and happiness. The winners of the inaugural Screen Test Awards are the programmes which have made a real emotional impact with audiences, either through amazing storytelling, performances which truly engage and programmes that simply make us happy. Our winners are the programmes that really deliver what audiences want.”

Tom Loxley, Editor, Radio Times