BBC Sounds Audio Lab alumni wins big at ARIAs

Tommy Dixon’s Colouring in Britain takes home award for Best New Podcast

A number of podcasts were among the winners of last night’s UK Audio & Radio Industry Awards (ARIAs), including Colouring in Britain from BBC Sounds’ Audio Lab.

The ceremony took place at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night, hosted for the second year in a row by BBC Radio 2’s Rylan Clark-Neal and Hit Radio’s Fleur East. 

Tommy Dixon, a creator from the Audio Lab’s Class of 2022, took home the award for Best New Podcast which he accepted alongside his mentor and BBC commissioning executive, Khaliq Meer. The podcast series was created by Dixon under the podcast development programme, and amplifies the stories of people of colour that have helped shape what the UK looks like today. 

“I'm super-duper stoked to win this award,” said Dixon. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I'm really, really happy that so many people listen to the podcast and have heard the stories of Benjamin Zephaniah, Princess Campbell, Claudia Jones and Paul Stephenson.

“I think just being able to have a program like Audio Lab facilitate creating that podcast and have it recognised by the industry is absolutely fantastic, so it means the world.”

BBC Sounds announced that its Audio Lab programme was returning for its second year in January, and will soon be announcing the new set of individuals to join its Class of 2023, who will transform their original ideas into podcasts for BBC Sounds. 

Other new podcasters that won included the co-hosts of National Prison Radio’s Life After Prison podcast, Zak Addae-Kodua and Jules Rowan. The podcast is targeted towards supporting listeners that are currently or formerly incarcerated and their families, with the unique perspective of both presenters being ex-prisoners themselves.

“I can't believe we've won best new presenters,” said Addae-Kodua. “It doesn't just mean that we've won a great award, it shows that people like me and Jules who have had a chequered past and have strived to make changes and improve ourselves, we get recognition when we do good things, not when we do bad things.

“Hopefully this can spur on the next wave of presenters from National Prison Radio and inspire those that are still inside to want to be better and become something different to what they're used to. So this one's not just for us and the Prison Radio Association, it's for everyone behind those walls and doors.”

Children’s radio and podcast network Fun Kids was also up for a number of awards at the ARIAS and took home the Creative Innovation Award for setting a world record by being the first radio programme to be sent into deep space. 

Additionally, a number of podcasts won against radio programmes in some of the categories, such as Best Sports Show which went to BBC Sounds and Folding Pocket Productions’ Moment of Truth podcast and Best Factual Single Programme which went to BBC Radio 4's File on 4: Isobel's Story

BBC’s You, Me, and the Big C podcast was also honoured last night with the Impact Award and the award was collected on stage by the show’s producers, Mike Holt and Alex Entwistle, who dedicated it to their late co-host Dame Deborah James who passed away in June last year. In January 2023, co-hosts Lauren Mahon and Steve Bland announced that they will be taking a step back from the show to focus on their mental health, but returned in March. 

“We'd like to dedicate this to our friend and inspirational colleague Deborah James. Deborah would be so thrilled,” said Holt and Entwistle. “From us, check your balls. From the girls, check your boobs. And from Debs, check your poo!"