Detective drama Vera leads the way as Royal Television Society celebrates north's top TV talent

Some of the top talent from the region's television and media industry has been recognised at the 2019 Royal Television Society Awards.

Vera star Brenda Blethyn with writer Ann Cleeves and her co-star Kenny Doughty.
Vera star Brenda Blethyn with writer Ann Cleeves and her co-star Kenny Doughty.

ITV's Vera won the most prized accolade, the Judges' Award, at a star-studded red-carpet ceremony last night at the Hilton Newcastle-Gateshead.

Other big winners included BBC2's The Mighty Redcar, ITV Signpost and CBBC children's drama The Dumping Ground.

Vera star Brenda Blethyn with writer Ann Cleeves and her co-star Kenny Doughty.

South Shields comedian and writer Jason Cook hosted the event, which was attended by more than 400 guests.

Famous faces on show included including actors Brenda Blethyn, Kenny Doughty and Bill Ward, along with TV presenters Pam Royle, Jeff Brown, Ian Payne and Simon McCoy.

The popular ITV detective series Vera, which is filmed in Northumberland and features Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope, with Doughty as her sidekick DS Aiden Healy, won the RTS Judges Award.

The pair were joined on stage by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, whose series of books inspired the ITV series, which is now celebrating 10 years of production in the region.

The Royal Television Society 2019 Awards night was held at the Hilton Newcastle-Gateshead.

The CBBC series The Dumping Ground was presented with the award for Best Drama. Set on Tyneside, it focuses on the lives and experiences of young people in care and their care workers. It broadcast its 100th episode in March 2018 and is consistently the channel’s most popular drama.

Kia Pegg, who plays Jody Jackson in The Dumping Ground, was awarded Best Drama Performance for her role in the show. Actor Bill Ward, who has played Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street and James Barton in Emmerdale, presented Kia with her trophy.

Sunderland, Northumbria and Newcastle universities also celebrated success in the student section of the awards, which recognise up and coming talent as well as established names.

Theofanis Pegkas from the University of Sunderland won the award for news, while North East Parkour, comprising Lewis Dodds, Isaac Johnson, Robert Kilburn and Frank Sverhga, won the award for best factual broadcast, and the editing award.

Theofanis Pegkas won the regional student award for news with a report on unemployment in Greece.

Thomas Johnson, John Lewis, Bence Mezo and Leigh Crawford from Sunderland Uni won the award for comedy and entertainment with their broadcast Rebel Rebel, while Thomas Johnson also won the production design award.

Graeme Thompson, chair of the regional Royal Television Society (RTS) awards committee, said: “As television production in the region continues to thrive, the Royal Television Society awards play an important part in celebrating the best and brightest professional excellence, but also encouraging and supporting future talent from across the region.”

The ceremony also included a performance of Shipyards by Sunderland singer Marty Longstaff - aka The Lake Poets – which was the theme for the successful Netflix documentary series Sunderland Til I Die.

From left, Lewis Dodds, Isaac Johnson, Robert Kilburn and Frank Sverha won two awards for NEPK - North East Parkour.
The Lake Poets, aka Sunderland singer Marty Longstaff, have a moving rendition of Shipyards, the theme song from hit Netflix series Sunderland Til I Die.