Broadcaster Joan Bakewell (NC 1951) scoops Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award

Joan Bakewell

Journalist Joan Bakewell will receive this year’s Sandford St Martin Trustees’ Award at Lambeth Palace in recognition her outstanding commitment to religious and ethical broadcasting over six decades.

Baroness Joan Bakewell DBE, Newnham alumna and Honorary Fellow, will be presented with her award on June 8 by Professor Mary Beard (NC 1973), a friend of Bakewell.

The Newnham Fellow said: “Joan deserves this award because of her long contribution to serious, compassionate, ethical broadcasting – facing difficult issues in an approachable but never simplifying way.”

Baroness Bakewell (NC 1951) has been a household name since the 1960s, when she made her television debut and was the only female presenter on the pioneering BBC Two programme, Late Night Line-Up. From 1988 to 2000, Bakewell presented BBC One’s Heart of the Matter, where she frequently explored the most complex issues of belief and ethics.

Sandford St Martin trustee Roger Bolton was her editor on the programme for three years, and says that she always conducted her interviews with “cool precision, intelligent understanding and great sympathy for those caught up in difficult dilemmas”.

Alongside numerous other achievements, Bakewell also presented the BBC Radio 3 series Belief, BBC Radio 4’s Inside the Ethics Committee and became President of Birkbeck College in April 2013.

Bolton says that as a Labour Peer, Bakewell also “uses her position in the House of Lords to ensure that its debates about ethics cut to the heart of the matter”.

Baroness Bakewell said: “I am enormously pleased to be given this award, which has a tremendous reputation. I think it matters all the more in today’s climate because we need space where serious ideas can be reflected and discussed.”

The Sandford St Martin Trust has been organising its annual awards for the best broadcast programmes about religion, ethics and spirituality since 1978.

The Trust’s broadcasting awards are open to a wide range of genres – news, current affairs, factual, arts, music, drama and comedy as well as “traditional” religious broadcasting – and are open to programmes about any faith.

Previous winners have included Professor Simon Schama, Melvyn Bragg, Ian Hislop, David Suchet, Rageh Omaar, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks among many others.

Photograph credit: Simon Rawles