The Grierson Trust has announced the shortlist for the 2020 British Documentary Awards in association with All3Media.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes its presence felt in multiple categories alongside some of the most talked about programmes of the year, including Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview and Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude.

The impact of the pandemic can be felt in the Best Series category with Hospital: Coronavirus Special and also in the Best Arts or Music category with Grayson Perry’s Art Club. Meanwhile, big screen, big hitter For Sama features in the Cinema category and small screen returners 24 Hours in Police Custody, Long Lost Family and Race Across the World appear within Best Series and Best Constructed Series shortlists.

Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust says: “This is a particularly challenging time for filmmakers, so I’m pleased to have this opportunity to celebrate some of the most outstanding factual programmes broadcast in the past 12 months. This year’s shortlist showcases the creativity and fearlessness of the world’s filmmakers as they take viewers to the heart of issues affecting all our lives. I’m also thrilled that 2020 shortlist represents the biggest range of channels, broadcasters and platforms to date, as commissioners recognise the crucial role the documentary plays in every schedule.”

The 104 shortlisted films and eight presenters will now go forward to final nominations and judging ahead of 48th annual awards ceremony on 10th November 2020.

The BBC dominates the Science and Natural History categories and tops the shortlist with 44 entries in the running overall. Netflix has over 50% of the Best Series shortlist with 12 films in total. Channel 4 have 11 in the mix. ITV has five films listed, Sky has three, Al Jazeera, Apple+, Nat Geo  and Amazon Prime all have two each. Completing the list with a film apiece are Channel 5, Discovery, S4C, BT, ESPN, YouTube and Fields of Vision while the remainder is made up of festival and university screenings alongside theatrical releases.

The full shortlist:

Envy Best Single Documentary Domestic

The Case of Sally Challen 

Minnow Films for BBC Two

Eirlys, Tim a Dementia (Eirlys, Tim and Dementia)   

Cwmni Da for S4C

The Family Secret             

Candour Productions for Channel 4

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth            

Grain Media in association with Glimmer Films & The Guardian for Sheffield Doc/Fest

The Street           

WagonTrail Productions for General theatrical release

Suicidal: In Our Own Words           

Proper Content for Channel 5

Tell Me Who I Am             

Lightbox for Netflix

War in the Blood              

Minnow Films for BBC Two

The Open University Best Single Documentary – International


Higher Ground Productions & Netflix for General theatrical release

Crip Camp           

A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation for Netflix

The Day California Burned             

Brook Lapping Productions & BBC Current Affairs London for BBC Two

Ethiopia-Eritrea: Rebirth at the Border       

BBC for BBC World Service YouTube channel

The Great Hack  

A Noujaim Films Production & an othrs Production for Netflix

A High School Rape Goes Viral: Roll Red Roll           

Sunset Park Pictures & Brass Mill Media for BBC Three

I Am Duran         

Ad Hoc Films for Amazon Prime, Sky & BT TV

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein             

Lightbox for BBC Two

Best Current Affairs Documentary

Al Jazeera Investigations: Diplomats for Sale

Al Jazeera Media Network for Al Jazeera

The Nightcrawlers            

Violet Films for National Geographic

Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview    

BBC Newsnight for BBC Two

Sex for Grades    

BBC World Service for BBC Africa

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Nigeria’s Female Suicide Bombers          

BBC Northern Ireland for BBC Three

Storyville: On the President’s Orders           

Mongoose Pictures for BBC Four

Undercover with the Clerics           

BBC News Arabic for BBC News Arabic

Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag   

Hardcash Productions for ITV

Storm Best Arts or Music Documentary

The $50 Million Art Swindle           

Fig Leaf Films & Top Hat Productions for BBC Two

The Black Godfather        

Boardwalk Pictures & Hudlin Entertainment for Netflix

Cindy Sherman #Untitled

BBC Studios for BBC Four

Grayson Perry’s Art Club – Episode 3           

Swan Films for Channel 4

Imagine… Edna O’Brien: Fearful and Fearless          

BBC Studios for BBC One

Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude   

Lion Television for BBC Two

Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall      

Bailey Kennedy Production for General theatrical release

Terms and Conditions: A UK Drill Story       

Century Films for You Tube Originals

Channel 5 Best Historical Documentary

Apollo 11            

Statement Pictures for General theatrical release

Crip Camp           

A Higher Ground & Rusted Spoke Production in association with Little Punk, JustFilms & Ford Foundation for Netflix

Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret – Episode 2    

Top Hat Productions for BBC Two

A House Through Time – Episode 1              

Twenty Twenty Productions for BBC Two

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain – Episode 1       

Blast! Films for Channel 4

The Last Dance – Episode 7             

ESPN Film & Netflix present a Mandalay Sports Media Production in association with NBA Entertainment for Netflix & ESPN

Lost Lives            

DoubleBand for BBC One Northern Ireland

Rise of the Nazis – Episode 1         

72 Films for BBC Two

Sargent-Disc Best Science Documentary

8 Days: To the Moon and Back     

BBC Studios – The Science Unit & The Open University for BBC Two

The Big Picture – The World According to AI: The Bias in the Machine              

Al Jazeera English for Al Jazeera

Einstein’s Quantum Riddle             

Windfall Films for BBC Four

Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal  

RAW for BBC Two

Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?      

RAW for BBC One

War in the Blood              

Minnow Films for BBC Two

What’s the Matter with Tony Slattery?

Sundog Pictures for BBC Two

When Bridges Collapse: The Genoa Disaster            

Windfall Films for BBC Two

Discovery Best Natural History Documentary

The Elephant Queen         

Apple, Mister Smith & Deeble & Stone for Apple TV+

The Last Igloo     

Swan Films for BBC Four

The Octopus in my House

Passion Planet for BBC Two

Seven Worlds, One Planet: Antarctica         

BBC Studios Natural History Unit for BBC One

The Story of Plastic           

The Story of Stuff Project in association with React to Film for Discovery

Takaya: Lone Wolf            

Talesmith, Cineflix & Wild Wolf Media for BBC Four

Tigers: Hunting the Traffickers      

Grain Media for BBC Two

Wild Cuba: A Caribbean Journey   

Crossing the Line Productions for BBC Two

Best Entertaining Documentary

The Dog House – Episode 3             

Five Mile Films for Channel 4

Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh – Episode 1    

Talkback for ITV

Kathy Burke’s All Woman – Episode 2         

Flicker Productions for Channel 4

Love is Blind – Episode 3  

Kinetic Content for Netflix

The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan: Zimbabwe     

Rumpus Media for BBC Two

The Pet Talent Agency: Barking Mad          

Nineteen11 for Channel 4

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness – Episode 2         

Goode Films Production in association with Library Films & Article 19 Films for Netflix

Tyson Fury: The Gypsy King – Episode 2      

Optomen Television for ITV

Netflix Best Documentary Series

24 Hours in Police Custody            

The Garden Productions for Channel 4

The Devil Next Door         

One Man Show & Submarine Deluxe Production in association with Yes Studios for Netflix

Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer     

RAW for Netflix

Hometown: A Killing        

Forest & 7 Wonder for BBC Three

Hospital: Coronavirus Special        

Label 1 for BBC Two

The Innocence Files          

A Story Syndicate Production & Jigsaw Production in association with Endeavor Content & One Story Up for Netflix

Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain            

Blast! Films for Channel 4

The Pharmacist  

The Cinemart for Netflix

Channel 4 Best Constructed Documentary Series

The British Tribe Next Door            

Voltage TV for Channel 4

The Heist: Million Pound Bank Job              

Shine TV for Sky 1

Long Lost Family

Wall to Wall Media for ITV

Portrait Artist of The Year              

Storyvault Films for Sky Arts

Race Across the World              

Studio Lambert for BBC Two

The Rap Game   

Naked for BBC Three

The Restaurant that Makes Mistakes         

CPL Productions & Motion Content Group for Channel 4

Who Are You Calling Fat?              

Love Productions for BBC Two

BFI Doc Society Fund Best Cinema Documentary

American Factory             

Higher Ground Productions & Participant Media for Netflix for General theatrical release

For Sama            

ITN Productions for General theatrical release


Production Team for General theatrical release

Midnight Family

Production Team for General theatrical release

Midnight Traveller            

Production Team for General theatrical release

Mike Wallace is Here       

Production Team for General theatrical release

Mystify: Michael Hutchence          

Ghost Pictures & Passion Pictures for General theatrical release

Talking About Trees         

Agat Films for General theatrical release

The Rumi Foundation Best Documentary Short

Country Girl        

Production Team for Open City Docs Film Festival, Hot Docs, Aesthetica

Days of Black and Yellow

Production Team for Field of Vision

If You Knew        

Prettybird & Try Hard Films for Sheffield Doc/Fest

Lost & Found      

National Geographic Documentary Films Presents in association with The Nobel Prize, a Rideback & Grain Media Production for National Geographic


Beehive Films for BFI Player, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ & Curzon Home

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore     

Forest of Black for Edinburgh International Film Festival

Tony Fraginals   

Autokino & Third Films for London Short Film Festival

Witness: The Mortician of Manila

Disobedient Films & Al Jazeera Witness for Sheffield Doc/Fest

All3Media Best Student Documentary

Are You Staring?

Holly Xue; Goldsmiths College


Sara Montoya Sepulveda, Mel Barnes, Rachel Roberts, Ethan Jeffrey, Breen Turner & Marco Valerio Caminiti; National Film & Television School

Beyond Illusion and Doubt            

Gwenllian Thurstan; UCL

Bringing Home the Blubber           

Molly Adams; London College of Communication

The Daydreamers             

Thomas Renckens, Said Englund, Ed Coltman, Natalia Tsupryk, Yin Lee & Vigdis Maack; National Film & Television School

Inside a Marriage             

Ben Cheetham & Margred Pryce; National Film and Television School

Miss Curvy          

Ghada Eldemellawy & Gareth Pugh; National Film and Television School


Louisa Rechenbach, Louisa Rechenbach, Zachariah Brown, Nicky Chue & Caleb Watson; London College of Communication

Warner Bros TV Production Best Documentary Presenter

DAVID OLUSOGA for The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files         

Uplands Television for BBC Two

EMILY MAITLIS for Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview     

BBC Newsnight for BBC Two

JESY NELSON for Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out              

October Films for BBC One

JOANNA LUMLEY for Joanna Lumley’s Cuban Adventure: Havana to Haiti      

Burning Bright Productions for ITV

KATHY BURKE for Kathy Burke’s All Woman             

Flicker Productions for Channel 4

MIRIAM MARGOLYES for Miriam’s Big Fat Adventure          

Wild Pictures for BBC Two

MOBEEN AZHAR for Hometown: A Killing  

Forest & 7 Wonder for BBC Three

STACEY DOOLEY for Stacey Dooley: On the Psych Ward        

True Vision for BBC Three

Jon Creamer

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.