Brits smell the Roses at Montreux fest

MONTREUX, Switzerland — After a poor showing by Blighty at Montreux in 1996, the Brits were back with a vengeance this year, taking six of 14 prizes at Europe’s premier entertainment festival, the Golden Rose of Montreux.

Overall winner at the competition, now in its 37th year, was Britain’s Granada TV, which won the Rose d’Or with its sitcom “Cold Feet,” a “thirtysomething”-style romantic comedy.

The silver and bronze awards in the newly created sitcom category went to the only North American winners, HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show” and Canadian Broadcasting Co.’s satire “The Newsroom.”

Four of the British winners were produced by independents, with only one inhouse BBC production, the satirical variety show “Friday Night Armistice,” winning a prize. However, the U.K. pubcaster was awarded a special Golden Rose to mark its 70th anniversary.

“I think we got everything right this year,” said Pierre Grandjean, the Rose d’Or’s secretary general. “When I took on the job five years ago, I dreamed of creating a festival like this one has been.”

There were signs at the Swiss lakeside resort that continental Europe may be catching up with the U.S. and Britain. Spain’s “National Parody” from Gestmusic took the bronze in the variety category, and Germany’s Regina Ziegler won the press prize with “The Waiting Room.”

“There was a time when the Americans and the Brits were streets ahead of the rest of the world in entertainment TV. That isn’t the case anymore,” one juror said.

A record 900 delegates attended the event. The winners:

Sitcom: Gold: “Cold Feet” (Britain, Granada); Silver: “The Larry Sanders Show” (U.S., HBO); Bronze: “The Newsroom” (Canada, CBC).

Comedy: Silver/Special prize of the City of Montreux: “Cold Feet”; Bronze: “The Joyboys Story” (Finland, MTV3).

Music: Silver: “The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon” (Britain, Pozzitive); Bronze: “Jael” (Switzerland, TSR).

Game show: Silver: “Wanted” (Britain, Hewland International); Bronze: “Talking Telephone Numbers” (Britain, Celador).

Variety: Silver: “National Parody” (Gestmusic, Spain); Bronze: “Friday Night Armistice” (Britain, BBC).

Press prize: “The Waiting Room” (Germany, Regina Ziegler).

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