The Film and TV Funding Award is awarded annually to an emerging filmmaker from anywhere in the world with the most promising pitch for a director-led documentary which fulfils the core criteria detailed below. With a main award worth £80,000 and a runner-up contribution of £15,000, The Whickers Film and TV Funding Award is one of the most significant documentary awards in the world.

Key dates:

  • 31 October 2018: Open for applications
  • 31 January 2019: Deadline for applications
  • April 2019: Shortlisted filmmakers are notified
  • June 2019: Shortlisted filmmakers pitch their projects at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Award-winners announced at the Doc/Fest ceremony.


Director-Led Story

  • 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.
  • Allows contributor’s story to emerge in their own words.
  • Demonstrates a flair for coaxing the human spirit into revealing itself.
  • The author demonstrates intimacy with but does not overshadow the subject.


  • Spirit of inquisitiveness that leaves 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 story-telling means – breaking new ground and/or using old ground to re-invent new style

Not Partisan

  • No campaigning, pre-set agendas or political theories.


  • Must be the filmmaker’s first 50+ minute documentary film where they own the director or co-director credit
  • Open to filmmakers from anywhere in the world. We encourage international filmmakers to apply
  • Projects must be at the late development or early production stage at the time of applying – this is not a finishing fund
  • Must provide proof of company viability. Award money will be paid into a registered company account in instalments; award money cannot be paid to an individual
  • Up to six minutes of original taster footage is required at the time of applying
  • Must be accessible for an English-speaking audience – whether in the English language, or subtitled in English
  • Applicants must have an executive producer on board at the time of applying.
  • Should they be shortlisted, applicants must be available to travel to the UK in mid-June 2019 to pitch their project at Sheffield Doc/Fest

Application Checklist

We recommend that, well in advance of the deadline, you go through the full application questions in order to prepare your answers according to the requested word limits, and gather the necessary links and information.  Please email info@whickerawards.com if you would like to request a Word template of the application form to help you to prepare your answers in advance. In the meantime, you can expect to answer questions on the following:

Section 1: Title; logline; up to 300 words on how your project meets the criteria

Section 2: Personal and contact details; your role in the project; details of a referee who can confirm that this is your first 50+ minute documentary film

Section 3: Password protected link to teaser footage; publicity and deadline agreements

Section 4: Your treatment; up to 2000 word synopsis of your project; an estimated budget (in GBP) of various elements in production and post-production of the film; any existing funding or plans for future funding; details of your production company (or project account/fiscal sponsor); details of your executive producer; confirmation that your project complies with our majority sponsor criteria (see section 4.8 in the Funding Award Terms and Conditions)

Section 5: Your background in documentary making (if any); 50 words on how you learnt your filmmaking skills; 50 words on what inspires you to make documentaries; 50 words on how the funding will benefit your project; 50 words on why an audience would really love your film; confirm that you or a member of your team will be able to attend a live pitching event in the UK in June 2019; your compliance with rules on transferring funds; 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 written in English. The accompanying taster footage should either be in the English language or subtitled in English. We hope that successful applicants to the Film & TV Funding Award will one day see their work broadcast on UK television, the original home of Whicker’s World.

Is there a deadline for applying to the Film and TV Funding Award?

Yes. The Film and TV Funding Award is awarded annually, and is open for applications from October 2018 until the deadline on 31 January 2019.

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?

Shortlisted applicants – five projects each year – will be contacted at the end of April 2019. These five finalists will be invited to pitch their projects to a judging panel at Sheffield Doc/Fest in the UK in June 2019 (reasonable travel & accommodation costs covered by The Whickers). The main award-winner and runner-up will be announced at the Sheffield Doc/Fest award ceremony a few days later.

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 a director-led documentary?

In its most literal interpretation, this would mean that the director narrates or presents the film. However, the meaning of this can be stretched and expanded; above all we are looking for a story that could only be told by the filmmaker 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 ‘director-led’.

How do I apply?

Visit our apply page. Please note that we can only accept applications via our comprehensive online form. Be sure that you are eligible to apply according to our criteria and terms and conditions beforehand.

How long will the application form for The Film and TV Funding Award take me?

Please be prepared to set aside some time for this, as the application process is comprehensive. We recommend reviewing the application form questions in order to prepare your answers and materials in advance. See further details in our application checklist.

Why do I need to provide a trailer/teaser footage with my application for the Film and TV Funding Award?

As well as your idea on the page, we are also judging your ability to realise it in sound and vision. The audiovisual material you provide will give us clues to your style, toe, professionalism, storytelling gifts and the characters you have researched. If you are shortlisted, your footage will be shown as part of a pitching event at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2019 in front of broadcasters and commissioners.

I am currently applying for other sources of funding for my project, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. However, in order for The Whickers to maintain its non-commercial rights as the majority fund holder, you may only apply if other funding awards are less than £80,000 in total and don’t diminish the rights required for the foundation. See more in our terms and conditions.

Why do I need to have a production company to apply?

We cannot pay award money into a personal bank account. Applicants must either have their own limited production company – or an executive producer with a registered production company willing to create a separate account for project funds. This is to safeguard the award-winners and The Whickers, ensuring that the project can be properly audited so there is never any doubt that the funding has been spent as intended.

If successful, do I receive the £80,000 funding in one instalment?

No. Once you have agreed the deliverables with The Whickers you will receive £30,000. The next payment of £20,000 will be delivered once the principal filming has been completed. The third payment of £20,000 will be delivered when there is a rough cut. The last £10,000 arrives after the fine cut. You can find more information about this in the Film & TV Funding Award Terms & Conditions.

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

Film and TV Funding Award Winners 2018


Harriet Armston-Clarke

Harriet Armston-Clarke

Klara Grunning

Patrick Hurley

Patrick Hurley

Emma Loach

Emma Loach

Jane Mote

Jane Mote

Seyi Rhodes

Seyi Rhodes

Film and TV Funding Award Finalists 2018

Previous Winners

See all the previous winners of this award.

Other Funding Resources

The Whickers remains committed to enabling filmmakers and allowing great documentary ideas to flourish.

Jane Mote

Consultant Editor

Top ranking international TV executive Jane Mote is the Consultant Editor for The Whickers. On joining the organisation, Jane said: “Whicker’s World opened my eyes to the most amazing stories, people and places. Alan’s unique style and sharp wit was inspirational and I am so excited to be part of creating a Foundation to nurture the future trailblazers for international documentary film-making.”

The delight works both ways as Jane Mote is a leading multi-media professional with a keen interest in growing wider audiences for great stories from across the globe. Formerly the UK managing director of Al Gore’s documentary channel Current TV, Jane now combines consultancy work for commercial TV – Turner, BBC Worldwide, Discovery and others – with nurturing new talent in East and West Africa. She previously launched the BBC’s first tri-media newsroom BBC London and more recently created London Live for the London Evening Standard.

Harriet Armston-Clarke

Harriet Armston-Clarke is Division Head at TVF International, the world’s leading independent distributor of documentary and factual programming. TVF International’s catalogue encompasses everything from factual entertainment and lifestyle series to exceptional award-winning documentaries, representing some of the most innovative and creative content makers from across the globe.

Patrick Hurley

Patrick runs Sheffield Doc/Fest’s international Marketplace connecting filmmakers with industry Decision Makers to get new documentaries made and seen. He also oversees the Festival’s All Year talent development programmes. Formerly Distribution Manager at Dogwoof from 2012-16, Patrick has worked closely with filmmakers, producers and partners on a diverse slate of over 100 documentary releases including The Act of Killing, Blackfish, Cartel Land, Concerning Violence, The Confession, Dior and I, Dreamcatcher, Leviathan, The Look of Silence, Planet of Snail, Speed Sisters, Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ‘45 and Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. Prior to working on documentaries, Patrick studied Economics and subsequently taught Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

Emma Loach

Emma Loach joined the BBC’s documentary commissioning team in January 2017 and commissions for BBC One, Two, Three and Four.

Before joining the BBC, Loach was an executive producer, working for Dragonfly and Rare Day. Her credits for the BBC include the series Ambulance and A World Without Downs Syndrome?, and for C4 include the series The Trial, Children’s Hospital, and Big Ballet and A Killing In My Family, Ian Brady: Endgames of a Psychopath and The Murder Workers.

Seyi Rhodes

Seyi Rhodes is a British television presenter and investigative journalist. He has worked for the BBC, Channel 4 Television, Five Television and Current TV. From 2008, he has been the in-vision presenter and reporter for Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary series, produced by Quicksilver Media.

Klara Grunning

Klara Grunning is an Emmy Award-winning production and distribution consultant and executive producer for film, TV and cross media worldwide. She is currently Documentary Commissioner at the Swedish Film Institute, and before that worked five years as the commissioning editor for documentary feature and short films at the Royal Danish Film Institute, where she supported award-winning films such as ‘Concerning Violence’ and ‘The Swedish Theory of Love’. Previously she worked as a Commissioner and Supervising Producer at ITVS in San Francisco. She is Chairperson of The Why Foundation and serves on the executive committee for the European Documentary Network (EDN).