'Rip-roaring' biography of Princess Margaret scoops South Bank Sky Arts Award

'Rip-roaring' biography of Princess Margaret scoops South Bank Sky Arts Award

Satirist Craig Brown's biography of Princess Margaret, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, published by Fourth Estate, has been honoured at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2018.

Brown scooped the prize in the literature category for his book, Ma’am Darling, which combines interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues and essays. Praised as "rip-roaring and witty", Brown's aim had been to produce "a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography, and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society".

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards was hosted by Melvyn Bragg and celebrates a wide range of the arts, with categories for TV Drama, Classical Music, Theatre, Comedy, Dance, Film, Visual Art, Pop, Literature and Opera. 

Brown joined a list of other winning artists at the event on Sunday (1st July), including Benedict Cumberbatch, the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, and Grime artist Stormzy, who took home the Pop award for his debut album "Gang Signs & Prayer". Other winners included Inside No. 9 for Comedy, maliphantworks for Dance and "The Jungle" for Theatre. The awards also celebrated emerging talent, with The Times Breakthrough Award this year presented to saxophonist Nubya Garcia.

Bragg took the opportunity to lament the government's attitude towards arts in schools; at the start of this year it was revealed nine out of 10 secondary schools in England are making cuts to their provision of creative subjects, because of increased emphasis on core academic subjects, according to a BBC survey.

"This is as strong as any list we have ever had," said Bragg. "The arts in the UK, a £92 billion industry, are second only to the US. Regrettably, government policy in cutting arts teaching out of so many schools fails to take this on board. This year’s awards celebrate what can happen when arts are encouraged from school-age onwards."

Phil Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts, added: "The Arts in the UK is as vibrant and exciting as it’s ever been - at Sky Arts we are privileged to be able to bring the very best practitioners across all genres to the screen, whether they are the established geniuses in the field or just starting out. The South Bank Sky Arts Awards celebrates the very cream of the crop and we are proud to celebrate it with our brilliant band of viewers."