Legacy of the ‘King of Documentaries’ offers three Awards worth over £100,000 to support authored storytelling in the UK

The Whicker’s World Foundation launched its annual awards on Monday 18th September, with the exciting news that the UK’s biggest Documentary Funding Award, of over £100,000, will now be open to entrants of all ages, who have the potential to walk in the steps of legendary storyteller Alan Whicker.

In previous years, a separate, smaller ‘Sage’ Award was presented to a new documentary filmmaker over the age of 50 with the main funding award limited to the under 35s.The decision to open up the Film & TV Funding Award to a broader base recognises that documentary making talent can emerge at any age.

Jane Ray, the Consultant Artistic Director for the Foundation said of the move: “We are removing the 35-year age limit for the major 80k funding award so any first-time director of whatever age apply for ’the big one’. We’re also allocating more money towards our audio funding award which does not have an age limit either. The amalgamation of the awards feels more democratic and inclusive. I also believe that more mature film makers can add real depth to documentary genre by telling stories through ‘older and wiser’ eyes.”

The Whicker’s World Foundation which was set up in 2015, is Alan Whicker’s legacy, providing funding for documentaries that will continue to stimulate and inspire audiences. The Foundation seeks to use Alan’s documentary heritage to further his vision and to help those with talent to take the first step up a ladder which is increasingly difficult to climb.

From this year, the Foundation will present three awards worth over £100,000 in prize funding:

  • 〈 The Film TV Funding Award worth £80,000, and awarded to a new director with the most promising pitch for an authored documentary; a second award of £15,000 will be granted to contribute to a film fund for a runner-up.
  • 〈 Radio & Audio Funding Award (RAFA) provides £7,000 for a radio and audio documentary piece, with a runner-up receiving a second award of £3,000
  • 〈 In addition to the funding awards the Foundation presents a further prize, the Documentary Audio Recognition Award (DARA) to the value of £3,000 for the winner and £1,000 for a runner-up, to recognise completed work.

The panel of judges is chaired by Valerie Kleeman, Alan Whicker’s partner in life and work for more than 40 years, who says: “The Whicker’s World Foundation Awards were launched two years ago, to encourage and stimulate authored documentary in direct response to the changing times and challenges faced by the industry. Television is becoming increasingly formatted and it is becoming harder, not only to get commissions, but also to capture viewers long enough to tell amazing untold stories.”

Since their launch, the Awards have helped create some ground-breaking pieces of work, including 2016 Funding Award winner, We Were Kings by Alex Bescoby, which tells the story of the lost royals of Burma, was premiered at Open City Docs Festival in September and sold well in Europe and Australia.

Leading international TV executive and the second founding member of the Foundation, Jane Mote, adds: “Whicker’s World opened my eyes to the most amazing stories, people and places when I was growing up and throughout my career. Alan’s unique style and sharp wit was inspirational. It has been incredibly exciting to play a role in selecting and nurturing some of the individuals that we believe have the same potential and will become the future trailblazers in international documentary film-making”.

The Whicker’s World Foundation is looking for projects that are playful with how the story is told, either breaking new ground, or taking a familiar path to come up with a new style.


Applications for all The Whicker’s World Foundation Awards opened on Monday18th September and will close on 31st January 2018.

Full details of the criteria for each award and application forms can be found here.