Awards honour creators of Plain English

Plain English in the UK is alive, well and in circulation thanks to a radio presenter, a national newspaper and a late night politics show.

The trio was crowned last week by organisers of the Plain English campaign, for making an exemplary effort to present themselves using clear and concise English.

For the second year running The Guardian won ‘best national newspaper’ for “continuing to set the standard for national newspaper journalism” by using clear and accessible language.

“The quality of free supplements and gifts [also] remains excellent and the paper has one of the best news and features websites around,” the campaign said in its citation.

Plain-speaking Jeremy Vine was spotlighted for winning ‘best national radio programme’ for his BBC Radio 2 slot at lunchtimes that provides “poignant debate on every topic” for millions.

For his similar no-nonsense style Andrew Neil’s late night BBC show This Week was hailed as ‘best national television programme,’ for keeping over a million Brits up-to-date with politics in Westminster and beyond.

The Plain English Campaign said of the hit-show: "While reality television shows continue to flood the networks, This Week offers viewers a chance to watch lively political discussion at its best.

"Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott are incisive, informative and very often irreverent, yet the debating is enjoyable, accessible and easy to follow.

“There is an effective mix of political and celebrity guests, and the 'alternative' video reports of the week's news are very amusing.”

This Week, which debuted in 2003, is no stranger to awards given its recent success at the Hansard Society/Channel 4 Political Awards, where it scooped ‘best programme.’

But the award from the campaign is particularly pleasing for the show’s on-screen and off-screen stars, all of whom were briefed by the BBC to make a programme that covers politics in an accessible way.

Said programme editor Jamie Donald: "I'm delighted that a programme on late at night and covering such an unfashionable subject has been honoured in this way.

“It's a tribute to the talent of the production team and to the appeal of the presenting trio of Andrew, Michael and Diane that the programme now has two awards under its belt this year and an audience which is still growing year on year on BBC One.”

Other winners of the campaign include Harriet Harman, MP, minister of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, who helped MPs understand a new concept alongside the Draft Coroners Reform Bill.

The campaign reflected: “She provided an explanation alongside each page of the bill to make the legislation more understandable for everyone including the MPs who were considering it.”

The campaign also gives out a two mischievous awards that aim to poke fun at those who have failed, sometimes comically, to express themselves in plain or understandable English.

For 2006, the infamous Foot in Mouth Award went to British supermodel Naomi Campbell , for the following comment she reportedly made in June:

“I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.”

The Foot in Mouth award is given for a baffling quote made by a public figure.

Past winners of the award include Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Gere, Alicia Silverstone and Tracey Emin.

Seven Golden Bulls have also been awarded this year, including one to the writer, broadcaster and academic, Germaine Greer.

In addition, Fife Council won a Golden Bull for a confusing letter about bin collection dates.

Wheale, Thomas, Hodgins, a recruitment agency, have landed a second Golden Bull for a breathless job advertisement, having previously won one in 2001.

Meanwhile, six organisations won Plain English awards for clear writing, including The Essential Business Guide, which is the first comprehensive business publication to win the award.

World Cancer Research Fund won a Plain English award for the second time. Six government departments have won an Inside Write award for clear internal communication, including HM Revenue & Customs and UK Visas for its guide to ‘managing e-mail.’


19th December 2006

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