BBC, ITN docs win RTS awards

The current affairs documentaries Sri Lanka's Killing Fields (pictured) and Panorama: Undercover Care have picked up top honors at the Royal Television Society's Television Journalism Awards, which recognize the best in British journalism.
February 23, 2012

Gritty docs investigating systemic abuse in a Bristol care home and alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka picked up prizes at the UK’s Royal Television Society’s RTS Television Journalism Awards 2010/2011 , in London last night (Wednesday).

The awards, which were hosted by ITV news anchor Mark Austin, celebrate creative excellence in British journalism and current affairs. BBC Current Affairs’ documentary Panorama: Undercover Care won best domestic current affairs program.

The documentary, in which a reporter goes undercover in a care home for people with learning disabilities and autism to secretly film abuse, shocked viewers when it aired on terrestrial channel BBC1 last June. In a statement, RTS lauded it as “a truly outstanding documentary that exemplified public interest journalism,” adding that it told “a shocking and moving story through a measured and compelling narrative.”

“This was a brave undercover investigation into the treatment of the most vulnerable in our society and it lead to significant changes in the way they are treated.”

In the international current affairs category, the winner was Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, a documentary produced by ITN for Channel 4 about the closing weeks of the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil Tigers. The film features disturbing footage shot by victims of the country’s civil war, including video of soldiers executing prisoners in cold blood.

“This meticulous investigative documentary was judged as a truly outstanding exemplar,” the RTS said in a statement. “The producers had the difficult task of collating and analyzing hours of raw footage often shot on mobile phones or on small domestic cameras. They took a forensic approach to this material, and were able to piece together a unique, disturbing and convincing account of what was supposed to be a war carried out well away from public view.”

Check out the full list of winners via the RTS website.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.