Canada, U.K. dominate Montreux fest honors

MONTREUX, Switzerland — Anglo productions ruled again at the Golden Rose of Montreux, the only annual international TV fest for light entertainment programming. Fest wrapped Tuesday.

The Golden Rose top prize went to “Yo Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Six Gestures,” an arts special produced by Canada’s Rhombus Media that explores the life and career of composer J.S. Bach, featuring renowned cellist Ma and British skating duo Torvill and Dean. It also won the fest’s Unda prize for “humanitarian values.”

Fest grand jury chairman Axel Beyer, head of entertainment shows for German pubcaster ZDF, called the decision “a tense result,” noting the difficulty in wrangling an international jury into making a decision on one top program.

The Canuck indie production company nabbed the Silver Rose for “The Canadian Brass: A Christmas Experiment” in the music category.

Both shows were produced in conjunction with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.; the pubcaster also received an honorary Golden Rose during the fest.

The Brits collected seven blooms with back to back wins in the sitcom category with a Silver for BBC’s undercover cop docu spoof “Operation Good Guys” and a Bronze for Channel 4′s critical and popular fave “Father Ted.” Tiger Aspect’s sketch show “Harry Enfield & Chums,” another Beeb program, collected the Silver Rose in comedy.

The newly added arts & specials category, which boasted this year’s grand prize (“Yo Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Six Gestures”) awarded a Silver Rose to the U.K’s Queen Prods.’ “Queen — Bejart: Ballet for Life,” a ballet inspired by the music of late Montreux habitue and Queen leader Freddie Mercury.

In the same genre, Channel 5, a newcomer to the British airwaves in the last year, made a solid debut at the festival with a Bronze nod for a docu spec on another well known rocker with September Films’ “Fame and Fortune: Ozzy Osbourne.”

Trailing the Empire’s territories, the U.S. logged in with two nods for one show. “David Blaine: Street Magic,” a road special aired on ABC last year featuring Blaine’s in your face slights of the hand, won a Bronze Rose in the variety category and shared the Press Prize for innovation with “Operation Good Guys.”

Blaine made a personal appearance in the Swiss lakeside resort town and dazzled the fest’s 780 delegates with his smooth moves.

Attendees were also wildly enthusiastic about Japanese gameshow “Happy Family Plan,” in which a chosen family is given the chance to win prizes provided dad pulls off a particular feat. It scored the top accolade for the genre.

The second gameshow prize went to another ITV franchise, LWT’s “Ice Warriors,” a sort of “Gladiators” gamer on ice.

Other notable non Anglo winners were Israel’s Matar Prods.’ sketch show “The Chamber Quintet” in comedy, Ireland’s Tyrone/RTE musical “Gael Force” and Gestmusic/EndeMol’s offbeat variety show “Cronicas Marcianas.”

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