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The Imison Award

Joseph Wilde, winner of the 2014 Imison Award

Joseph Wilde, winner of the 2014 Imison Award

This award, established in 1994, perpetuates the memory of Richard Imison to acknowledge the encouragement, support and friendship he invariably gave to all writers, and particularly those working in the medium of radio.

The purpose of the Award is to encourage new talent and high standards in writing for radio, and it is awarded for the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio.


Bill Nighy, patron of the Award, says:

'Acting on the radio was my apprenticeship when I was young and if anything should threaten BBC Radio 4, I would have to consider leaving the country. Radio is an essential part of our cultural identity and radio plays are mysterious and cool.' 


The winner of the Imison Award 2014

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Imison Award 2014 is The Loving Ballad of Captain Bateman by Joseph Wilde with the composer Tim Van Eyken.

The award was judged by the Society of Author’s Broadcasting Committee: John Taylor (Chair), Ruth Brandon, Lucy Caldwell, Christopher William Hill, Alison Joseph, Annette Kobak, Michelle Lipton, Jane Thynne, Stephen Wakelam and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal. The award was presented at the BBC Audio Drama Awards on Sunday 26 January by the playwright and screenwriter of Spooks fame, Howard Brenton.

The Loving Ballad of Captain Bateman follows the arc of the ancient song but within a contemporary narrative. In Afghanistan the wounded British soldier, Captain Bateman, places Sofia and her father, in a dangerous dilemma. Sofia and Bateman overhear each other singing and first warm to one another through song. Their contemporary love story is illuminated by Tim van Eyken’s performance of the old ballad, and music he has composed for these characters. The music is integral rather than incidental, working with the text and soundscape to drive the narrative. As in the ballad, the story returns to Britain, where Afghans seek succour and shelter and wives, lovers and families wait and worry about the soldiers they care for. 

The judges said: This strikingly accomplished play weaves together two war stories - one ancient, one modern - with great flair and daring.  Both tell of a British soldier going to war in a far-off land, being near-mortally wounded, then rescued by his captor’s daughter, who dangerously compromises herself and her father in doing so. The old tale is embodied in a ballad (with haunting new score), the new in gripping and entirely convincing war scenes in Afghanistan.  Moral dilemmas – the girlfriend back home, an accidental shooting in Sanghin, the Pashtunwali code of honour – come to life in spare, witty dialogue.  A virtuoso use of sound, from malfunctioning Bowmans to tinnitus, brilliantly dramatizes conflicting wavelengths.  At the end, love seems to conquer war and geography... though the lovers’ ridiculing of each others’ fairytales has suggested we shouldn’t take fairytale endings too seriously.  

Joseph Wilde's first play Famous Last Words was performed at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for a NSDF Fringe Prize. In 2010 his play Zulu Wedding won the Script Space competition at Tobacco Factory Theatre Joseph is currently on the Young Writers Programme at the Royal Court Theatre.

Tim van Eyken won the BBC Young Folk Award in 1998 and joined Waterson: Carthy before making his solo album Stiffs Lovers Holymen Thieves. Tim was Song Man in War Horse and is currently playing Evans in the national tour of Birdsong. He, Joseph Wilde and Julian May are working on projects using traditional music and folk culture to create contemporary drama.

Shortlisted along with the winning script were:

  • Fresh Berries by Catherine Johnson
  • Hangdog by Cat Jones

Download the Imison Shortlist 2014 Press Release

The Imison Award 2015

Download the entry form


Any audio drama first broadcast or made available online within the UK by a UK based producer during the period 1 October 2013 - 31 October 2014 by a writer or writers new to audio drama. The work must be an original piece for audio, and it must be the first audio drama by the writer(s) that has been broadcast. It may also include the first episode from an original series or serial. When submitting 15 minute episodes from a series or serial we will require consecutive episodes (including the first episode) to make up at least 45 minutes. The judges reserve the right to call in the subsequent episodes if required. We welcome 30-minute plays provided that they were stand-alone and that characters and situations are original to the writer.

An adaptation of a piece originally produced or published for any other medium e.g. stage, television, film, novel, poem or a short story will not be eligible.

Writers with BBC dramatisation credits will not be defined as a 'new' author. Writing pairs must both be new to audio drama. Writers with dramatisation credits or teams of an experienced and new writers are welcome to enter the Tinniswood Award for best audio drama script.


Submissions will be accepted from any party (producer, broadcasting organisation, writer, agent, etc.) and should consist of:

  • a completed entry form;
  • three paper copies and a pdf of the writer's script as broadcast. We would appreciate a link to a freely available broadcast or three CD copies of the production. Further copies of may be requested if the work is short-listed.
  • a supporting statement, synopsis and author biography (each no more than 250 words) emailed to Jo McCrum (jmccrum@societyofauthors.org).

Entries will not be returned and should be sent to Jo McCrum, The Society of Authors, 84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB by 17 September 2014.


The prize of £1,500 is generously donated by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation.
See: www.peggyramsayfoundation.org


The winner will also receive a Pure digital radio.


Related links

The Imison 2012

Imison and Tinniswood past winners



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