Applications for the Documentary Audio Recognition Award (DARA) are now closed and will reopen in late March 2019. 

In addition to our funding awards we award an annual prize of £3,000 to a completed radio documentary, and a runner-up award of £1,000. The programme must have been broadcast or publicly available between 1 May 2018 and 31 April 2019 and over 15 minutes in length.

Alan Whicker worked in radio before TV and was snapped up by Radio 2 in the late 1990s, adding what Jim Moir, the Controller from 1996 to 2003, described as “great lustre to my network”. Initially Alan’s radio programmes revolved around re-visiting his most memorable encounters from Whicker’s World: from the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ to Margaret Rutherford’s transsexual adoptee who ‘gave birth’ to a mixed-race daughter in South Carolina. He went on to create a radio history of television called It’ll Never Last.

Previous Winners

See all the previous winners of this award.

Documentary Audio Recognition Award Finalists 2018


Authored story

  • A story-teller with demonstrably strong interviewing skills
  • Demonstrates passion for the subject whilst retaining fair-mindedness
  • Demonstrates a real sense of independence
  • Personal but not partisan
  • Wry humour welcome
  • Strictly no ‘Whicker impersonations’


  • Unique access to engaging characters in unusual or inaccessible locations
  • Contributors have agency, their story emerges in their own words
  • A demonstrable flair for coaxing the human spirit into revealing itself
  • The author demonstrates intimacy with but does not overshadow the subject


  • Spirit of inquisitiveness that leave viewers wanting more
  • Tells us about something new and unexpected about the world
  • Excites wonder
  • Understands how wit can illuminate the toughest or most nuanced real life drama

Original use of technology

  • Playful with storytelling means – breaking new ground and/or using old ground to re-invent new style

Not partisan

  • No campaigning, pre-set agendas or political theories

Application Checklist

  • Your name, contact details, address
  • Title of your programme, name of producer/director, 1000 character (roughly 250 words) synopsis of your programme, cue/introductory material, commissioning or funding body, country of production.
  • Length of programme (must be 15 minutes or more to qualify for this award), when and where your programme was first broadcast or published online
  • Downloadable URL for your programme
  • 60 words on how your programme meets the criteria
  • Your compliance with rules on transferring prize money, your agreement with our terms and conditions.


Do I need to pay to enter?

No, all of our awards are free to enter.

Do I need to be a UK citizen to apply?

No, we accept applications worldwide.

Does my proposal have to be in English?

Yes, we will only consider proposals and programmes that have been broadcast in English.

Is there a deadline for applying to the Documentary Audio Recognition Award?

Yes. The Documentary Audio Recognition Award is awarded annually, and is open for applications until 1 May 2018. Programmes must have been broadcast or publically available between 1 February 2017 and 31 April 2018.
NB The 2018 deadline has been extended to the final deadline of midnight CET on Tuesday 8 May 2018. 

Can I submit more than one proposal per cycle?

No. We will accept one proposal, per applicant, per award, per year.

When will I find out if I have been successful?

The five shortlisted applicants will be announced in early August 2018. The main award-winner and runner-up will be announced at the Open City Documentary Festival award ceremony on 8 September 2018 in London.

Can I request feedback if my project is not accepted?

Our resources for giving feedback are very limited. If your application is unsuccessful and you are prepared to wait, we can arrange for a 7 minute feedback slot by phone.

Is there an age limit for applying?

No, all of our awards are open to applicants of all ages (18+).

Whicker’s World was all about travel, so are these awards for travel programmes?

No. Whicker’s World was always more about the people rather than the places – and this legacy exists to support documentary-makers who can introduce us to wondrous ‘new worlds’, whether or not they are across the globe or across the room.

What do you mean when you say you are looking for “authored” work?

In its most literal interpretation, this would mean that the programme is narrated. However, the meaning of ‘authored’ can be stretched and expanded in this context. Above all we are looking for a story that could only be told by the applicant who is proposing the project. They will have ownership of the story, outstanding access, and a demonstrable passion for the subject at hand.

The phrase that Alan Whicker used in this regard was a ‘signed’ documentary. It meant that he stood by whatever was said or done in the programme, as such Whicker’s World programmes showed the world from Alan’s point of view as he interacted with it. This was true even when it appeared that those he met were doing all the talking and when he hardly appeared on screen. In the same spirit we are looking for your take on another world that remains truthful, professional and acknowledges other points of view. We are also looking for wit and flair in the way you script, edit, select and juxtapose your contributors and perhaps reinvent, or stretch, the grammar of the form to new heights. In other words, we are looking for a story well told. In this way a documentary with no presenter or narrator may still be considered ‘authored’.

How do I apply?

Click on ‘Apply now’ below. Please note that we can only accept applications via our comprehensive online form. Ensure that you are eligible to apply according to our criteria and terms and conditions before starting your application.

How long will the application form take me?

We cannot put a timeframe on this, but you should set aside ample time to complete the form. We recommend that you read through the application form in advance in order to fully prepare your answers and materials ahead of time. Visit out application checklist for more information.

Have a question that hasn’t been answered above? Contact us at info@whickerawards.com


Hardeep Singh Kohli

Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart

Johanna Zorn

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Hardeep is a much respected and award winning broadcaster, comedian, writer and chef. Hardeep also sits on the Board of the National Theatre of Scotland. He can be heard on BBC Radio 4, including shows such as SketchtopiaHardeep’s Sunday Lunch and Pick Of The Week on BBC Radio 4. Hardeep currently writes a weekly column for The New European. He has also written and presented a number of documentaries for Channel 4 and wrote, directed and starred in Meet the Magoos and has contributed to many major publications including The Observer, The Spectator, The Times and The Independent as well as being nominated for ‘Travel Writer of the Year’ at the AITO Awards for his piece in BA High Life. Hardeep is also an experienced comedian who tours the country and sells out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart is the Founding Director of Open City Docs and a Professor of Social Anthropology at UCL, teaching at all levels and leading an MA course on Documentary and Ethnographic Filmmaking. Open City Docs aims to create a space in London to nurture and champion the art of creative documentary and non-fiction filmmakers, and is the 2018 home of The Whickers audio awards. 

Johanna Zorn

As executive director and co-founder of the Third Coast International Audio Festival, Johanna Zorn has been committed to the development of contemporary audio culture for more than three decades. She spent 30 years at WBEZ, producing and directing a wide variety of programs. It was during her tenure as executive producer of the award-winning public affairs series Chicago Matters that Zorn began working with audio documentarians and set her sights on creating a Sundance for Radio. In 2009, she led efforts to transform Third Coast into an independent media arts organization.