In light of this, I thought it might be of interest to some of you to talk about my own experience of being an awards nominee.
I'll try to make this as non-show-off-y as possible. I mean it sincerely when I say that getting an award, or being nominated for an award, mean very little to me in the grand scheme of things. I mean... it's nice and all, but I suppose I don't feel defined by my work, so that when I'm rewarded for it by the promise of a little statue, my reaction is "That's nice," rather than "I've made it! I am complete and whole at last!"
I enjoy my job immensely, but I'd rather get an award for, I dunno, being a decent person. Please believe me when I say that's no false modesty. I'm more proud of the fact I've managed to sustain a career in an industry that's horrifically hard to get into, and even tougher to stay in - least of all to reach the top of (albeit with the caveat that kids' TV is a sort of microcosm of its own that is mostly ignored by the rest of the industry, and that I constantly worry about the work drying up, and going broke, and that).
Even then, I accept that the prolific work-rate which allowed me to collaborate with an enormous number of people, and produce a huge amount of writing - never missing a deadline - was, at least in the early days, driven by a need to distract myself, and by a pathological desire to get paid. The by-product of this is that I got a reputation in the industry of being fast and reliable, and managed to improve quite quickly. Put enough hours into anything and you git gud.
Plus, my natural instincts are more at the Found Footage/Digi-end of things, but this only gets you so far in TV. Suppressing those instincts, to write more commercially viable stuff that'll get me paid and lead to more work, is something I can do only up to a point - but it has, I suspect, resulted in a hybrid style that is just weird enough at times to be distinct.
See? When you overthink stuff like that it's hard to really feel that anything is an achievement.
Still, I realise that awards are one of those by-products of my job, which are slightly outside the norm. In
my experience, talking about it risks it looking like you're boasting, or can provoke jealousy in others - even close family and friends. That's partly down to the fetishisation of TV and film, how it's given greater weight - not least because of glamorous televised awards ceremonies - than, say, working in an office or driving a bus.
Truth is, if you want to get all anthropological about it, people who work in TV are the village storytellers, the bards - not the hunters and gatherers who are really supporting the tribe. Frankly, I'd be the first one tossed over the side of the balloon. And that's not just because I'd probably be the heaviest.
Nevertheless, having had the experience of going to posh telly awards, I thought it might be of interest to some of you to hear about it. While at the same time accepting that some people may mistake this as false modesty, or humble bragging. I thank my parents for keeping me grounded. When I told them about the first time I was nominated for a BAFTA, they replied "Oh" and changed the subject.
I've never won a BAFTA, despite being nominated three times. Well, despite having shows I've written nominated three times. That is... I was nominated for a Children's BAFTA, of course. As you may or may not be aware, there are several different BAFTA ceremonies, including those for video games, and - as mentioned above - for kids' TV.
I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that kids' telly is given its own event. On the one hand I worry that it kind of partitions kids TV away from the rest of the industry - signifying that it somehow isn't as important - while on the other, maybe it's so important that it has its own special ceremony.
It has changed a bit over the years, in that the first time I was nominated - for the CITV show My Parents Are Aliens - there was no category for best children's comedy. Consequently, My Parents Are Aliens was up for the drama award, and obviously didn't win. When I was nominated again, it was for 4 O'Clock Club, and that was put into the drama category again, despite being a comedy-drama. The third time, 4 O'Clock Club was put into the new comedy category, and lost out to Dick and Dom.
The way it works is that TV companies won't ask BAFTA to judge an entire run of shows. Instead, they'll submit a single episode that's representative of a series as a whole. Then BAFTA members vote on which of the hundreds of episodes they like best, and the resulting shortlist is watched and debated over by a small panel of experts (who then vote in secret). Being an "expert" (ha ha), I've twice been a BAFTA panel judge - once for the BAFTA game awards, and once for the kids' awards (in the pre-school animation category).
Being chosen to be on that panel was possibly more of an honour than being nominated. Not least because I got to chat with Ian Eames, the creator of the iconic animations first used during Pink Floyd's 1973 Dark Side of the Moon tour.
With the BAFTAs, show nominations tend to be attributed to the writer, director and producer. This does rather negate the input of the cast (though they have their own categories), the rest of the crew, and - say - the executive producer.
While I may not have won a BAFTA, 4 O'Clock Club did win a Royal Television Society Award a couple of years ago, and I was at the ceremony to receive it.
Though I've never been on a panel for the Royal Television Society Awards, I'm assuming it's a similar sort of process to BAFTA. The big difference, is that the RTS Awards include children's TV alongside all the other categories. When 4 O'Clock Club was nominated for the RTS, there were no names on the award aside from the title of the show. However, the executive producer - essentially 4OCC's showrunner - wasn't able to make it, and so I, as lead writer and co-creator, went along with the producer.
The RTS is a bit more of a swanky do than the Kid's BAFTAs; I even had to rent a tux for the evening (but made a point of not shaving or brushing my hair). Though the kid's BAFTAs has had some top tier guests (usually there to be presenters) - I've brushed shoulders with such luminaries as Baby Spice, David Jason, John Landis, and Jedward (as well as personal heroes like Bernard Cribbins and Bagpuss creator Peter Firmin) - the RTS has pretty much everyone from TV Land in attendance.
It was surreal; every time I turned my head there'd be some famous face. A Les Dennis, or Claudia Winkleman, or Tom Hollander. Melvyn Bragg - there for a lifetime achievement award - actually said good night to me.
It was also awful.
I was nominated in the same category as a good friend of mine, and then I discovered I was sat at the same table as the people responsible for the other nominated show. It was kind of a lose-lose. Lose or win it would be awkward - not least because after smalltalk over dinner we'd clicked, and had enjoyed a very lovely chat. They even invited me to come and stay at their house in Scotland. Also my friend, I knew, really wanted to win. Whereas, I was just hoping that the food was going to be nice, and there'd be enough of it that I wouldn't need a kebab on the way home.
Not everyone is like me; I've seen first-hand that awards really matter to most people who are nominated. I've witnessed nominees storm out when they didn't win, I've seen the crushing defeat on their faces, so profoundly disappointed that they can't even hide it. I'd rather lose than risk inflicting this upon someone else.
My other biggest anxiety in the run-up to any awards ceremony is to do with potentially having to make a speech. Actually, it's not the speech that bothers me, but just being in that spotlight. It probably circles back to the fear that making a speech could be read as grandstanding, or showing off. To win is for somebody else to lose, and why should anybody bother listening to some acceptance speech from me when - realistically - they're only really interested in whatever category they've been nominated for?
It's the ultimate "Shut-up and look at me! I'm better than you! LOL!"
I've never written a speech, always working on the basis that I'm going to lose, and I'd leave the talking to somebody else. At the RTS Awards, the producer insisted that I had to give the speech - which rendered me nauseous for about half an hour, until word came around that the only people who were expected to make a speech were winning actors. They didn't want to hear from the likes of us. I was simultaneously relieved and a bit offended.
Then there's the sort of enforced networking and smalltalk, neither of which I particularly relish. Pre and post-ceremonies, I try to seek out people I've already worked with and cling to them, but inevitably I'll end up being introduced to somebody new, or be seated next to a stranger.
The last time I went to the BAFTAs I spent ten minutes talking to CBeebies icon Mr Bloom without realising his identity, then asked him what his job was. He took it well. I've had people badger me for work - something I'm not in any place to offer - and then there's the awkwardness of talking to somebody really famous, who knows you know who they are, but you have to pretend you don't. It must be awful for them.
The last time I went to the BAFTAs I waited until the ceremony was over and went "to the toilet" - then legged it out of the exit, so that I didn't have to do any more smalltalk and networking. Frankly, how I've maintained a career is anybody's guess.
You always pretty much know when your moment comes. Not only are the awards listed in the programme in the order they'll be presented, but moments before your table will be swarmed with cameras. Your face is then projected onto the stage as the results are called - something which, of course, I absolutely love (sarcasm).
Unlike the BAFTAs, where there's a different guest presenter for each award, at the RTS all the awards are all read out by the host - in the case of the ceremony I went to, it was John Sergeant.
Though I was stone-cold sober, it all happened in a bit of a blur; Sergeant read out the names of each of the nominees, along with a few nice words, and showed a clip of each.
Then he announced the winner, continuing to talk about the show as my producer and I leapt out of our chairs, and headed for the stage, By this point I wasn't even aware of being in a room full of real TV stars, and didn't even give second thought to the fact that Les Dennis was looking at me. I'm assuming there was applause - there had been for everyone else - but I didn't hear it.
I vaguely remember walking up the ramp to the stage, I took the award off of some RTS bigwig, shook his hand, and then we were ushered away to do a short interview on camera for the RTS website.
We waited in a queue just behind Bear Grylls. I mumbled and stuttered my way through the interview - which may explain why it was never put online - then it was back to my seat, where I had to offer my commiserations to the other nominees on my table, reply to a congratulated text from my probably-gutted mate on the other side of the room, and send a message to our executive producer, who was equally gutted he hadn't been there.
On balance, I'd have probably rather won than lost. I mean, I'm not entirely devoid of pride, and I try to be the best I can at my job.
That said, I think much of my feeling comes from winning meaning I was able to avoid the social awkwardness of people commiserating with me as if I'd just seen my dog get fed into a woodchipper, and me not knowing whether to act like I was more disappointed than I actually was.
My main feeling was the same one I've had every time I've not won a BAFTA - relief that I didn't have to make a speech.
All this is of course entirely subjective. This is my experience of what it's like to be nominated, and to win or lose an award. I dunno where my attitude comes from, but it even extends to a distaste for things like GCSEs - that the worth of a child is measured, at an age when they're still in the process of becoming who they'll be, entirely by their ability to be good at maths or science or English.
I suppose I also feel uncomfortable with the idea that TV and film people are somehow held up as more important than everyone else. Maybe it comes from being on the receiving end of envy and jealousy, when I've always felt my job was just that - a job. I love writing, and I'm probably reasonably good at it, but it's by a quirk of chance and genetics.
I could just as easily found myself as a librarian - a career path I genuinely considered at one point - and loved that job every bit as much. But, of course, they don't roll out the red carpet for librarians, and that rather wedges in my craw.
Even if my RTS award is hidden behind a mirror in the front room (there's some symbolism for you, Dr Freud) I'm not knocking anyone who takes pride in receiving awards.
It's nice to get a bit of recognition, a pointer that you must be doing something right. I suppose, though, we all have different values, and what I truly value is that my job has meant that my kids had some cool experiences growing up, and there was always food on the table and a roof over their head.
Given a choice, though, between winning Best Kids' TV show in a given year and a free holiday in a radio competition, I'd take the latter every time.