The winners of the Royal Television Society Northern Ireland (RTS NI) Programme Awards were announced on (12 November) at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Patrick Kielty.

Critically acclaimed actress Michelle Fairley was awarded the coveted Brian Waddell Award for her outstanding contribution to the broadcast industry.

Born in Coleraine, Michelle has enjoyed huge success for her many roles on stage and screen, although she is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Catelyn Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones which made her an international star.

Michelle Fairley says: “I am so incredibly thankful and honoured to be receiving this award for outstanding contribution. I feel very lucky to have been given some fantastic opportunities throughout my career and believe that my “outstanding contribution” really is just that; a contribution to fantastic productions and wonderful creative teams. We would be nothing in this industry without our collaborators and I have been truly blessed to work alongside some of the best. Long may it continue!”

Vikkie Taggart, Chair of RTS NI said: “It is a real pleasure to celebrate the incredible talent of Michelle Fairley who has won the hearts of audiences worldwide in a glittering career spanning more than 30 years with her many accomplished performances. Congratulations to all our winners and nominees this year, who represent the best of the exceptional talent in Northern Ireland.”

The Current Affairs Award went to BBC Northern Ireland for Spotlight – Fear and Loathing in Quinn Country and My Left Nut by Rollen Productions was awarded Best Drama with Stellify Media’s There’s No Place Like Tyrone picking up the best Entertainment programme.

The Voyage by Jam Media was the winner in the Children’s/Animation category and Soft Border Patrol from The Comedy Unit won the Scripted Comedy Award.

Arena: The Changin’ Times of Ike White by Erica Starling Productions was the winner in the Documentary category with the award for Best News coverage going to UTV Live at Six for its’ coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

The Original Music Score Award went to DoubleBand Films for Lost Lives by Mark Gordon, Neil Martin, Richard Hill and Charles Graham. BBC Northern Ireland was the winner in the Specialist Factual category for Peter Taylor: My Journey Through the Troubles with Alleycats’ Pulling with My Parents picking up the Features/Factual Entertainment Award.

Maeve McLoughlin, Chair of RTS NI Awards says: “This has been a challenging year to say the least, and we no doubt have further difficulties to overcome in the next few months. It was my wish along with the whole of the RTS NI Committee to ensure that these awards took place this year regardless of the challenges we faced. We felt that the industry as a whole has worked tirelessly to adapt to new regulations and also social measures to ensure the creative industries keep powering on, and we wanted to acknowledge that hard work and dedication.”

The RTS NI Programme Awards 2020 are delivered in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and Channel 4, along with headline sponsor Ka-Boom.

The Royal Television Society Northern Ireland Programme Awards 2020 winners are:

Children’s and / or Animation

WINNER: Jam Media: The Voyage for RTÉ.

Finalists: Tyrone Productions NI: My Life: My Pigeons and Me and Paper Owl Films: Pablo.


Current Affairs 

WINNER: BBC Northern Ireland: Spotlight – Fear and Loathing in Quinn Country.

Finalists: UTV: Up Close – The Poverty Spiral and UTV: Up Close – Tied to Terror.



WINNER: Erica Starling Productions: Arena: The Changin’ Times of Ike White for BBC Four.

Finalists: DoubleBand Films: Lost Lives and DoubleBand Films in association with Lone Star. Productions: Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens.


WINNER: Rollem Productions: My Left Nut for BBC Three.

Finalists: Out of Orbit: The Dig and BBC NI & The Lyric Theatre: BBC Arts NI presents: Splendid Isolation.


WINNER: Stellify Media: There’s No Place Like Tyrone for BBC Northern Ireland.

Finalists: Hindsight & Hat Trick Productions: Celebrity Mastermind Champion of Champions Special and Stellify Media: Pretty Single.


News Coverage

WINNER: UTV: UTV Live at Six 

Finalists: BBC Newsline: Coronavirus Living in a Pandemic and Tern TV: The People’s News.

Original Music Score

WINNER: DoubleBand Films: Mark Gordon, Neil Martin, Richard Hill, Charles Graham – Lost Lives.

Finalists: BBC NI: Sheridan Tongue – Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History and Rollem Productions: Andrew Simon McAllister – My Left Nut.

Scripted Comedy

WINNER: The Comedy Unit: Soft Border Patrol for BBC Northern Ireland

Finalists: Nice One Productions: The Paddy Raff Show and Moondog Productions: The Blame Game


Specialist Factual

WINNER: BBC Northern Ireland: Peter Taylor: My Journey Through the Troubles

Finalists: Waddell Media: Dana: The Original Derry Girl and Waddell Media: Work on the Wild Side


Features and / or Factual Entertainment 

WINNER: Alleycats: Pulling with My Parents for RTÉ2.

Finalists: Stellify Media: Goodbye House and Rare TV: Mountain Vets.


The Brian Waddell Award for Outstanding Contribution – sponsored by Carson McDowell

WINNER: Michelle Fairley

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