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Culture Awards 2009: Performing Artist of the Year

SOUTH Shields’ stand-up lady Sarah Millican continued her rise to acclaim and its associated handful of-star-ratings in 2009.

Winner - Sarah Millican

SOUTH Shields’ stand-up lady Sarah Millican continued her rise to acclaim and its associated handful of-star-ratings in 2009.

Having won the prestigious if.comedy (used to be Perrier) Best Newcomer award during the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe for Sarah Millican’s Not Nice, there is a school of thought which dictates her follow up show, Typical Woman was all-important.

Luckily for her then that it previewed to much laughter at Live Theatre before being well-received north of the border too.

In addition, 2009 also saw her broadcasting career take off too.

She wrote a series, Support Group, for Radio Four, in which she starred as Sarah, a life counsellor-come-agony-aunt and also appeared across our TV screens on a variety of occasions including the primetime Live at the Apollo on BBC1 and Mock The Week on BBC2.

Currently entertaining audiences down under at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Sarah said: "I am thrilled to be nominated for a Journal Culture Award.

"The Journal is the only paper we got every day at home so as a teenager, it was your horoscopes that I based my love life around. I don’t want you to feel bad but I didn’t get a boyfriend til I was 21.

"I understand that isn’t just your fault and it’s true that I don’t know the other nominees but I think for this reason alone, it would be nice if I won.

"Fingers crossed that those years staying in because Mr Right was around the corner have actually paid off."

Finalist - David Nellist

N@EWCASTLE-born, and bred, actor David Nellist played a duo of roles in the Gala Theatre’s spring production Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather.

As team manager Sydney Barron, David’s 10-minute monologue for the cup final had audiences on their feet (in a good way). Meanwhile, as Wyn Barron, Sydney’s grea-grandson, his on-the-ball comic timing offered a perfectly-pitched narration to the story.

This was David’s third appearance at the Gala, having taken key roles in The Far Corner and The Likely Lads. Theatre audiences will also have seen him in Toast, Smack Family Robinson and You Really Couldn’t Make It Up at Live Theatre.

He is currently starring as George the boxing coach in Billy Elliot in the West End.

David says: "I am really chuffed to be shortlisted and especially so in my own region. This (2009) was a fantastic year for me as I got to work ‘back home’ for much of it."

Finalist - The Unthanks

A NEW name, a new album, a two-month tour and a new(ish) line-up.

You could say 2009 was a big year for the Northumberland-based folk group formerly known as Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, who return to this category as former winners (in 2006). Following a 2008 nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, the band had enjoyed spreading their sound via successful tours in Europe, the US and Australia, where they decided on much of their well-received 2009 release, Here’s the Tender Coming.

Within the new-look band, The Unthanks, sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, who’ve always been involved, were joined by fellow core member Niopha Keegan, Adrian McNally on piano and Chris Price who brought many instruments to the party.

The result was an assured album which reinforced their reputation for having a sound which could be nobody else. Concerts at The Sage Gateshead and Arc Stockton in October and November confirmed the band as a jewel in the North East’s music crown.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
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Mark Douglas
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Sports Writer