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‘Brilliant’ Eddie Mair and PM win news programme of the year at Radio Academy Awards

By Dominic Ponsford

Radio 4’s PM was named news and current affairs programme of the year at the Radio Academy Awards last night.

The judges singled out presenter Eddie Mair for special praise. Mair has been been tipped as a possible successor to Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman who is due to stand down in June.

Other winners included Tom Swarbick of LBC News who was named national radio journalist of the year and and Winifred Robinson of Radio 4 who won interview of the year after she spoke to Ralph Bulger on the 20th anniversary of his two-year-old son's murder.

The Radio Academy judges said PM was:

A programme at the top of its form which never rests on its laurels and rarely settles for the obvious. The interviews are sometimes unexpected, often utterly compelling and when necessary, robust and persistent; all are handled brilliantly by Eddie Mair.  Along with these there is some fine radio reporting and an impressive sense of journalistic curiosity combined with genuine wit. All in all, a fully rounded product aimed at a very sophisticated and demanding audience."

Robinson is a journalist with a similar background to the Bulger famnly, who still live on the same council estate in Kirkby. She interviewed them shortly after James’s murder and also attended the trial.

Ralph Bulger spoke to her of the despair caused by a parole board’s decision to release killers Thompson and Venables after they turned 18 in 2001.

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The radio academy judges described her work as: "A searingly emotive entry which demanded the listener's attention.  The interviewer built a real connection with the interviewee which generated real, fresh insight."

The best coverage of a live event prize went to the BBC World Service for its “dignified and moving” reporting of the death of Nelson Mandela.

Best community programming went to LBC for Slavery on our Streets, "A very powerful documentary from LBC highlighting an issue that could be happening in all our communities."

Speech radio presenter of the year went to Victoria Derbyshire of BBC Radio 5 Live. 

National radio journalist of the year went to Tom Swarbick of LBC News (which is now available nationally on digital radio). The judges said:

Tom Swarbrick is a real star and this high quality, skilful and enjoyable entry was a breath of fresh air. There were a wide range of stories from hard news and exclusive interviews to relatable, fun features.

He’s intelligent, curious, fluent, determined and relentless. All his stories were well observed, showed great use of language, imaginative production techniques and clever interviewing."

Local radio journalist of the year went to the nine-strong BBC Radio Norfolk news team for work which the judges said made radio the “go to place for information” and “story telling that was always in touch with its community”.

Full list of Radio Academy awards, including the non-news categories, is available here.

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