According to press reports today, three judges on the Evening Standard Awards have resigned after Dame Helen Mirren won the prize for Best Actress for her performance in The Audience, although the majority of the panel did not vote for her.
Two members of the panel who work for the Evening Standard, who are the sponsor of the awards, revised their votes after seeing the results of the secret ballot, to be sure that Dame Helen won the prize.
Charles Spencer, of the Telegraph, Georgina Brown, of the Mail on Sunday, and Susannah Clapp, of the Observer have all stepped down from their roles, although Libby Purves, formerly of the Times, and Matt Wolf, of the International Herald Tribune, are remaining on the newly renamed “advisory panel”.
Sarah Sands, editor of the Evening Standard, has said that she and Henry Hitchings, the newspaper’s theatre critic, looked at the secretly cast votes of other members of the panel, and then colluded to revise their votes to allow Dame Helen to surpass the other nominees.
Following the secret ballot, where each judge gave three points to their favourite, two to their second, and one to their third, there was a equal tie for first place between two nominees, neither of which was Dame Helen Mirren. Sands and Hitchings revised their votes to allow Dame Helen to win.
“In discussion about what was a dead heat, Henry and I decided that we would go for an option that would make Helen Mirren the winner,” Sands told the Times. “By doing a first and second vote we could balance the two factions with a third option, which is what happened.”
This very unfortunate situation leaves a very bad taste in the mouth about what may have been considered one of the leading theatre awards in this country.
It also begs the question, how will Dame Helen Mirren be feeling about it and what of the other two actresses who were joint first, so far not named.
Monday 16th December 2013