2019 Visit the Festival

The 5th UK International Radio Drama Festival will take place
from 18 – 22 March 2019 in Canterbury, Kent.

Canterbury Cathedral

The listening venue this year will be Caffè Nero, 44 High Street, CT1 2SA.
The café is a 10 minute walk from both Canterbury West and East train stations – and even closer to the beautiful Cathedral.

Everyone welcome, admission free!

Caffè Nero on the High Street

2018 Audience Award

Our Co-Chair Brian announces the winners in the Audience Award

Thanks to everyone for voting and Congratulations to the winners!

Here are the citations – the collated views of the voters:

First Prize

Wederik de Backer (Belgium) – for Almanak

From the anecdotes of inhabitants of the Brugse Poort district in Ghent – a line of stories, some very earthy, some nightmarish, and some absurd, into which the listener is drawn, as if eavesdropping

“ Went to a live listening of this play, it was stunning ”

“ Almanak has an entertaining weirdness that makes it different from anything that I’ve heard. Kudos to Wederik De Backer ”

“ I just loved the idea behind the piece ! “

“ Almanak is also a great radio drama ! “

“ I vote for Almanak because of it’s natural ! “

“ *read this like Trump ‘All great, so great, yes, really great’ “

Second Prize

RTÉ (Ireland) – for Surviving Ireland

Devised, written and produced by Aidan O’Donovan & Colm Tobin, who also both perform in it, a very clever, witty mockumentary about a retreat to detox from the use of smartphones

“ Surviving Ireland is a great listen “

“ funny guy, funny book, great show “

“ Loved this. Stumbled across it when it was on and it had me hooked. Would happily listen all over again “

“ Brilliantly wrote words in proper order and very funny “

Third Prize

RTÉ (Ireland) – for From Eden

A traumatised young man and woman meet when each comes to hole up in an unused bathroom above a party: first joshing, then gradually revealing their highly personal, painful stories – outstanding writing by Stephen Jones

“ .. a beautifully poignant look at real human experience and interaction “

“ Brilliant writing Very moving. I laughed out loud and cried “

“ Superb play, performed beautifully by 2 wonderful Irish actors “

“ .. a play you could go to a number of times and still find something new “

“ .. a beautifully written play, funny, sad, thought provoking, thoroughly enjoyed it “

2018 Jury Awards

And the Winners are…

First prize Full length

Wederik de Backer (Belgium) – for Almanak

First prize goes to Almanak, created by Wederik De Backer from his detailed exploration of the archives and neighbourhood of a building used by generations of inhabitants of the Brugse Poort district in Ghent.

From the anecdotes of real people living in this specific place is weaved a line of stories – some very earthy, some nightmarish, and some absurd, but in a true-to-absurd-life way – into which the jurors found they were drawn, as if eavesdropping. The stories unfold simply as in real life, with evocative silences between people, and time for the listener to be absorbed into the acoustics of real spaces from which these stories emerge – the very same spaces in which this drama was actually recorded.

Also true to life is the wonderful, tragicomic unfathomability of the thoughts and actions of these people and their problems, which soundscapes echo either unobtrusively at apt moments within the lifelike pace, or with occasional heightened flashbacks, before returning to a poised stillness.

Issues and thoughts on life emerge, such as who belongs to the community (people who didn’t, now do; and the new newcomers don’t); bittersweet advice from old to young about getting on with living their life – even if young and old, amusingly, all struggle to remember the same well-known aphorism on the subject, and all fail to quite correctly quote it.

Second Prize

RTE (Ireland) – for From Eden

This drama of a traumatised young man and woman meeting when each comes to hole up in an unused bathroom above a party is writing of such great quality that it deserves to become a modern classic – for radio and in its stage version: offering exceptionally varied opportunities and challenges to even the most experienced actor; engrossing if not enthralling to any audience. The writer, Stephen Jones, himself plays the young man.

It gives the lie to the notion that anyone can write dialogue: this is beautifully nuanced, so various in the different levels of interaction. Within the confined space and short space of time, the two characters, quite naturally and believably, try out layers of humour to find a common wavelength, then, gradually reveal more – still amidst some joshing – about their highly personal, painful stories.

Some of the jury discerned a meaningful subtext in the songs, just audible from the party downstairs; but apart from that, and a few very brief sound effects very deftly placed, all we needed – and all rejoiced in – was this great script.

Third prize

RTE (Ireland) – for Surviving Ireland

Devised, written and produced by Aidan O’Donovan & Colm Tobin, who also both perform in it, this is a particularly clever, witty mockumentary, very relevant to the lives of everyone from eight months upwards – today, and ever since the mists of the last ten years. With a recording team experienced in making documentaries, who chose to record this in MS, the technique usually used in live broadcasts, this drama totally achieves the aim to sound just like the real thing, and with this aim, is also acted, as well as produced, to perfection.

The actors not only skilfully and totally avoid each and every of the many temptations to play it up, but also create interesting, colourful, yet subtle observations on human nature – whilst still keeping the more obvious ’actor’s energy’ at bay, still making it feel like a documentary – an hilarious, brilliant achievement. The comedy in the devised script is never too obvious; and tight editing comes just at the right moments, when the comedy sails most closely to the wind, again keeping the whole idea delightfully believable.

SWR (Germany) for Eine Woche Voller Samstage

A live radio play adapted by Ulla Illerhaus from the classic German children’s book by Paul Maar, who also plays the narrator in this recording. An amazingly successful coming together of artistic talent and technical expertise. The actors create brilliantly colourful characters: the strange sprite who represents the joy, fun and freedom of a perfect, seemingly never-ending Saturday has an exceptional vocal range.

The live band, solo and ensemble, were as talented as each of the actors, individually and together: different instruments take their turn to contribute to a wide range of sounds, solo or in different combinations, providing comic or atmospheric underscoring. Spirited, gutsy musical interludes keep the pace going into the next scene.

This live play requires a demanding succession of sound effects which the Foley artist generously supplies with perfect timing. A beautifully clear recording with spectacularly successful balance and mix between sound fx – musical and Foley – narrator, actors, underlying soundscape from the band. The fact that all this was immaculately achieved in this swift, energetic live show impressed those in the jury most experienced in this field.

Short form

Sverrir Gudjonsson (Iceland) – for Ophelia’s Harp

Press release: 2018 UK International Radio Drama Festival Announce the WINNERS Press Release

2018 Programme

Check the 2018 Schedule

And here is the detailed programme for Forms of Things Unknown 

All listening sessions are free to attend – and we welcome anyone to come for a short or long time. No need to book, just turn up at one of the venues – and we normally offer a cup of tea and a cake too. English language scripts are available for all plays. We find that people get the hang of listening in one language and following in English quite quickly – its very much like subtitles.

You are also very welcome to join the discussion – normally in a local pub for about an hour – at the end of the day; this is an opportunity for the jury to reflect on the day’s offerings. If you can attend all the listening sessions, you might like to think about putting yourself forward for the jury too. They make the final decisions on the main awards. We select the jury on the first day.

Pettman House – our primary base

pettman house

Beach Creative  – accessible listening venue  

2017 Award Winners

Feature length category


The Belgian Atelier du Creation Radiophonique’s play Beaux Jeunes Monstres / Young Beautiful Monsters, directed by Florent Barat & Sebastien Schmitz, was a conclusive winner in the feature length category. The play offers a view of the world from the perspective of mental impairment and does so in unsentimental language and without gruelling emotion, but with the utmost sensitivity and humour. So convincing is, it that  from the single hour’s listening, we understand the remarkable world concealed behind each inarticulate sound, proffered with great authenticity by the actors.


Second place was awarded to Atlas of Remote Islands – a Swiss radio adaptation of a stage performance (dir.Thom Luz). The work was created in the non-radio-acoustic space of an immense staircase. The exactness of  recording and accompanying production values; acting, sound design and  live music are  delivered with a precision which conveys the intensity of a very powerful script, based on the book by the same name.


Under Wasser / Drowning (s), “a play for young people” was awarded third place. It was directed by Anouschka Trocker and produced by Saarlandischer Rundfunk – Germany. The story of an teenager who – thanks to his pc and internet skills – becomes almost an idol to many of his peers but almost causes  catastrophy in the real world, speaks convincingly to young (and older) listeners – and creates imaginative plots and environments.

Short form category


A work of minimalist precision, “I Believe” (Jeg Tror), directed by Christian Eiming  was the   overwhelmingly choice as winner in the short drama caegory.  Its mirror-like,  growing micro-story leads the listener through a metamorphosis of perception, as experienced by two close people (a patient and relative) in hospital. The simple narrative, highly imaginative sound design and, above all, the intensity of the plot makes this radio drama a leader  in the short form category.


Bread (Duona)  by Lithuanian independent director Saulius Kovalskas, was awarded second place in the short-form category.  An archetypal story with  a dark atmosphere, and quality production are the strengths of this intense micro-horro; the poetics of which are reminiscent of Robert Frost.


Third Place in this Year’s Short form category went to The Party (Večírek) directed by Petr Vodička. It is a comic elaboration of a Macbeth type plot,  enhanced by superb direction and excellent acting. 

Audience Award

  • Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg (Germany) Der Ballon
  • New Zealand Radio Wings
  • New Zealand Radio Peddling to the Meddling