The Grierson Trust has announced the winners of the 2023 British Documentary Awards in association with All3Media with BBC programmes picking up six awards on the night.

The awards were handed out last night at a ceremony hosted by comedian Nish Kumar at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London.

The BBC picked up the most awards with six in total and Netflix won two with Channel 4, Disney+, and Sky Documentaries/HBO Documentary Films, and Apple TV+ winning one each. Awards were spread across seven broadcasters and streamers alongside theatrically released features and online platforms. Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland from KEO Films and Walk on Air Films won two awards for Best Documentary Series and Best History Documentary. The feature documentary All that Breathes from Rise Films, Kiterabbit Films, Tangled Bank Studios’ also won two awards for Best Single Documentary – International and Best Cinema Documentary.

In addition to the programme awards, this year’s BBC Grierson Trustees Award was presented to Anna Hall, and the Sky Documentaries Grierson Hero of the Year Award to Deaf & Disabled People in TV.

Lorraine Heggessey, Chair of The Grierson Trust says: “The winners of this year’s Grierson Awards stand out for the ambition of their storytelling, the craft of their filmmaking and a drive to create documentaries that have a real impact on viewers around the world – whether that’s through extraordinary revelations or bringing new insights to a subject. At a time when the pressures on documentary filmmakers are higher than ever, The Grierson Trust believes it’s important to celebrate their achievements, and to recognise the commitment to documentaries from such a wide range of commissioners and funders.”

Full list of 2023 Winners:

·       ENVY Best Single Documentary – Domestic


Alison Millar, Jackie Doyle, Chloe Lambourne, Siobhan Sinnerton, Mark McCauley, David Holmes

In association with Northern Ireland Screen and TG4 and HiddenLight – Channel 4

              The jurors said: Poignant, moving and utterly creative, this documentary had the jury hooked with its vivid, heartfelt portrait of a compelling character. Giving historical and political context to a tragic story, the film was layered, rich and had a genuine voice and point of view. The filmmakers balanced archive, user generated content and voice recordings to create an intimate atmosphere to draw viewers into this devasting yet hopeful story.

·       HBO Documentary Films Best Single Documentary – International


Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer, Sean B. Carroll, David Guy Elisco

Rise Films, Kiterabbit Films, Tangled Bank Studios – HBO/Sky Documentaries

              The jurors said: Cinematic, evocative and profound, this documentary blew the jurors away with its confident approach. The framing played with perspective in innovative and interesting ways, guiding the viewer to consider the intimate detail of everyday life for three brothers and the native birds they cared for. The filmmakers captured the life and light of a city facing real environmental challenges. The film demonstrates a lightness of touch but packs a powerful visual punch, leaving an indelible impression.

·       Televisual Best Current Affairs Documentary


Matthew Heineman, Caitlin McNally, Carolyn Bernstein, Baktash Ahadi, David Fialkow, Joedan Okun

National Geographic Documentary Films – Disney+

              The jury members unanimously lauded this film as a masterpiece. This documentary was described as a beautifully filmed, with the jury appreciating its meticulous attention to detail, thoughtful consideration, and impeccable casting choices.

·       Best Arts Documentary


Production Team

A Netflix Documentary in association with TEAM DOWNEY & LIBRARY FILMS Production – Netflix         

The jurors commended this entertaining and original film which was an artistic endeavour about the creative process with an authentic portrayal of a father and son at its heart. Eccentric, touching and emotional, the meta stylistic approach combined with the emotional familial narrative on aging stayed with the jury long after watching.

·       Best Music Documentary


Brett Morgen

Live Nation Productions and Public Road Productions – Theatrical release

              The jurors said simply, this is filmmaking to aspire to. They applauded this captivating documentary for its experiential approach. A film that felt like an art installation, jurors said that it created a new language for cinema and the documentary genre. With such an adventurous spirit, it was an audio-visual treat, made with pure love.

·       Broadcast Sport Best Sports Documentary


Leo Burley, Hannah Richards, Rick Barker, Marvyn Benoit, Shona Thompson, Zad Rogers

Atomized Studios, Red Bull Studios – BBC

             This documentary struck a chord with the jurors, who unanimously found it to be an inspiring and vital piece of storytelling, particularly given the current global migration challenges. This documentary stood tall as a brave, moving, and often heart-breaking story with true revelations throughout.

·       Best History Documentary


Production Team

KEO Films and Walk on Air Films for BBC, PBS and The Open University – BBC

              The exceptional access and gripping testimonies had jurors hooked from the start. This documentary had the transformative power to turn the hyper-political into the deeply personal. They praised the documentary for its humanity and warmth and commended the filmmakers for creating a powerful and important historical record.”

·       The Open University Best Science Documentary


Amanda Lyon, Joe Myerscough, Emma Jones, Shiva Talwar, Nick Ransom, Eloise Millard

BBC Studios Documentary Unit, The Open University – BBC

              This beautiful and innovative documentary was described by the jury as totally enriching. Its insightful presenter and touching human stories alongside its exploration of the science of autism felt as though the documentary was exploring areas where others had not yet gone. The jury felt this film, illuminating and interesting throughout, had real potential to change lives.”

·       Best Natural History or Environmental Documentary


Dan Edge, Jane McMullen, Emma Supple, Sarah Waldron, Raney Aronson-Rath, Ella Newton

Mongoose Pictures, BBC, PBS Frontline and ARTE – BBC

              The jurors commended this film for its, bravery in journalism, amazing access, and meticulous research. The documentary’s approach and delivery on such a pertinent topic left the jury feeling inspired, with the compelling narrative keeping them engaged throughout. Fresh, bold storytelling and superb interviews meant this documentary and its subject remained foremost in audiences’ minds.

·       Prime Video Best Entertaining Documentary


Production Team

A Netflix Documentary Series, Boardwalk Pictures, Untapped, North of Now – Netflix

              The jurors commended this series for being inventive and clever, with a particularly strong creative vision. This documentary captivated the jury with its enigmatic and innovative storytelling, which kept the story moving in new and exciting ways. Ultimately, the jury found this series to be a standout – keeping them engaged, compelled, and most importantly wildly entertained.


·       Channel 4 Best Constructed Documentary Series


Production Team

An Apple TV production in association with Public Record produced by Vox Media – Apple TV+

              This stylish series blew the jurors away with its fun, utterly compelling approach to storytelling. Giving a respectful insight into a fascinatingly weird middle-American world, the series showcased strong characters who hooked the jury from the start. Superb filming, lighting, graphics and use of music served to elevate the short, sharp yet emotive episodes.

·       Netflix Best Documentary Series


Production Team

KEO Films and Walk on Air Films for BBC, PBS and The Open University – BBC

              Personal, powerful and raw. This series presented an outstanding unravelling of a known story from a new perspective, which meant audiences were bound to learn something new. Jurors appreciated the honest, fair and expansive storytelling which resulted in a remarkable series with reach and impact. The interviews and archive balanced the ordinary everyday with wide-reaching political events and were expertly woven throughout the series. This timely series resonated with audiences and the jurors described it as a monument to documentary producing.


·       Red Bull Studios Best Cinema Documentary


Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer, Sean B. Carroll, David Guy Elisco

Rise Films, Kiterabbit Films, Tangled Bank Studios – Theatrical release

This documentary completely immersed the jury in a small, very particular world with poetic moments throughout. The cinematography, artistic vision, innovative tracking shots and sound design were picked out as especially commendable, resulting in the viewer being totally transported into the world of the documentary. The filmmakers integrated themselves with the subjects expertly, making the narrative play out like a drama with the camera’s presence barely felt. Themes of nature, politics and the environment were subtly woven through the piece, adding to the integrity of this memorable documentary.

·       All3Media Best Student Documentary


Mia Harvey, Yu-Pu Pon, Luke Barnfather, Diana Duah, Sophie Esslemont, Mara Ciobra

NFTS – University/College Screening

              This informative and strong documentary was described by the jury as a masterclass in access. A perfect blend of beauty and rawness that weaved in its own sense of artistry and style. In particular, the jury appreciated the film’s emphatic confidence in its politics and message, and connected with its distinct sense of urgency and purpose.

·       Fullwell 73 Best Documentary Short


Khoroldorj Choijoovanchig, Chantal Perrin, Tessa Louise Salomé, , Kate Kennelly, Luc Sorrel, Gael Rakotondrab

Petite Maison Production –

              The Jury felt transported by this film, highlighting its sensitive portrayal of both the strength and fragility of the central character. With some extraordinary imagery of a rarefied and remote world, the remarkable access and film’s visual flair left a lasting and powerful impression.


·       Disney+ Best Documentary Presenter


Curious Films – BBC

The jury felt that this presenter went above and beyond to add immense value and bring new insights to every aspect of this documentary. This presenter expertly navigated difficult interviews, weaving together a powerful and highly personal story. Smart, clever, and brave, this presenter was commended for their ability to shed new light on a complex subject and make it accessible. 

  • Sky Documentaries Grierson Hero of the Year Award


Bryony Arnold, Caroline O’Neill and Charlie Pheby

  • BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award


Jon Creamer

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