Channel 4’s cheerful and stereotypical sitcom about an all-female, all-Muslim punk band has won the comedy award at the UK’s Most Eclectic Arts Awards.
The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are unique in honoring the entire arts spectrum, including pop, opera, television and literature.
On Sunday, the 2022 winners were announced, with We Are Lady Parts taking the comedy prize from a shortlist that also included Rose Matafeo’s BBC One sitcom Starstruck and Sophie Willan’s Alma’s Not Normal on BBC Two.
Other winners at the awards ceremony held at the Savoy Hotel in London included Leeds-based Opera North, rapper Little Simz and novelist Monica Ali.
The awards are a Sky Arts reboot of the South Bank Show awards that were once part of ITV’s program until it controversially canceled Melvyn Bragg’s long-running arts series.
Bragg’s series is now also shown on Sky Arts, with Frank Skinner, Helen Mirren and Carlos Acosta his next subjects.
“While so much around us seems to be getting worse, the arts in this country continue to go from strength to strength,” Bragg said.
We Are Lady Parts is the creation of writer and director Nida Manzoor and tells the story of a punk band called Lady Parts – “concocting”, viewers are told, “a confusing mix of anthems of hash and power sour feminine”. One part boredom, two parts identity crisis.
The program aired as a pilot in 2018 before being ordered as a six-part series.
It has been wonderfully reviewed. “Truly this is the British-Asian comedy series you’ve been waiting your whole life for without a performance,” wrote Chitra Ramaswamy in the Guardian. “And yes, I am addressing myself here.”
The New Yorker praised it for drawing on so many aspects of the British Muslim experience “that it goes beyond pure representation and into a fully developed, rich, silly world where jokes land as clean as G chords” .
The show stars Anjana Vasan, Sarah Kameela Impey, Faith Omole, Juliette Motamed and Lucie Shorthouse as the band and their veiled, vaping and rude manager.
In November last year, Channel 4 announced that a second season had been ordered.
Channel 4 also topped the TV drama category with Russell T Davies’ drama about London’s gay community in the 1980s, It’s a Sin, winning ahead of Time and Adam’s Obstetrics and Gynecology comedy. Kay, This Is Going to Hurt, both of which aired on the BBC.
It comes after It’s a Sin garnered the most Bafta TV award nominations this year but came away empty-handed.
An Outstanding Achievement Award went to Tamara Rojo, for her much-regarded 10 years of transformation as Artistic Director of English National Ballet. She should soon occupy the same position at the San Francisco Ballet.
The pop award went to British rapper Little Simz for her fourth album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, hailed in The Observer for its “baring brilliance”.
James Graham’s play at the Young Vic, Best of Enemies, based on the 1968 televised debate between Gore Vidal and William F Buckley, won the drama award.
The other winners are Michael Armitage (visual arts) for his exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts; Monica Ali (literature) for her novel Love Marriage; The Dante Project (dance) choreographed by Wayne McGregor for the Royal Ballet; Opera North’s Rigoletto (opera); The Death of Rebecca Hall (movie); and Symphony No. 2 (classical music) by Huw Watkins performed by the Hallé.
Eddie Izzard presented a breakthrough award to Liz Kingsman for her One-Woman Show at the Soho Theatre.
The ceremony will be broadcast on Sky Arts, now in the clear, on Wednesday July 13 at 10 p.m.
Philip Edgar-Jones, the head of Sky Arts, said the channel was “committed to supporting the arts over the next few years, whatever life throws at us”.