The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has decided to cancel its 2021 awards, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The guild’s chair Lisa Holdsworth said the industries its members work within face an “existential threat,” and the guild needed to focus on protecting their rights.
The red-carpet, gala event was due to take place at London’s Royal College of Physicians in January in a special ceremony to mark their 60th anniversary.
Holdsworth said: “Our awards happen because of two things: the generous support of our loyal sponsors, and the same collective strength our union is founded on. WGGB members, all working writers, volunteer their time and energy to sit on juries, shortlist entries, and pull endless strings behind the scenes to make the event the glittering success it is every year.”
“This year, those same members are working tirelessly to protect writers’ rights in industries which are facing an unprecedented, existential threat. We need to concentrate on this vital work, so that we can look forward to coming back with a bang, and much to celebrate, in 2022.”
Since their inception, at the Dorchester Hotel on April 26, 1961, in an evening billed “The Night of the Golden Pens,” the Writers’ Guild Awards have celebrated the cream of British writing across film, TV, theater, radio, books, comedy and, in latter years, videogames.
They have also put a spotlight on the work of the guild. In 1991, for example, author Salman Rushdie made a rare appearance at the height of the fatwa against him. Accompanied by bodyguards, Rushdie astonished guests as he collected the award for his children’s book “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” with an impassioned speech about freedom of expression.
Renowned writers who have taken home awards in the past six decades include Danny Boyle, Roddy Doyle, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, Russell T. Davies, Kay Mellor and Heidi Thomas. Presenters and guests in recent years have included Meera Syal, Caitlin Moran, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Armando Iannucci, Mackenzie Crook and Rob Delaney.