David Bowie gets posthumous gong at South Bank Sky Arts Awards

David Bowie has been honoured with a posthumous award for his final album Blackstar.

His 25th studio album won the Pop Music category at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards.

Iggy Pop accepted the gong on his late friend’s behalf, with a touching video message recorded from his US home.

David Bowie on stage in 2003 (Andy Butterton/PA)
David Bowie on stage in 2003 (Andy Butterton/PA)

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber received the Outstanding Achievement award at the London ceremony.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, tipped to take over from Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who, won the comedy category for Fleabag.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child scooped the theatre gong, which was presented by Bond director Sam Mendes.

Happy Valley, starring Sarah Lancashire, beat off competition from The Crown to win best TV drama.

Andrew Lloyd Webber (Peter Byrne/PA)
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (Peter Byrne/PA)

Actress Glenn Close, who worked with Lord Lloyd Webber on Sunset Boulevard, saluted the “cosmically witty” composer.

“He has written tunes which will stay in people’s hearts forever, generation after generation,” she said.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh called his former collaborator “the biggest catalyst in the musical world in my lifetime”, and paid tribute to his ability to make “a great piece of theatre” out of the “most unlikely subject”.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Ian West/PA)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Ian West/PA)

“Modern musical theatre” would not be the same if his friend “hadn’t been the force of nature that he is”, he said.

The award came as Lord Lloyd Webber suggested to The Observer that he was saddened to see British musicals overshadowed by US shows.

“America is pretty much back to where it was now. Nearly all the 14 new musicals that opened on Broadway last year were American,” he said. “We had a great moment here in the 1980s, but whatever I started back then has not really got to where I hoped it would.”

Pop paid tribute to Bowie, saying that the late star changed “the game in rock and roll and in popular music”, but was also a fan of The South Bank Show.

Iggy Pop (David Jensen/PA)
Iggy Pop (David Jensen/PA)

Describing how the pair “shared digs… in London at a beautiful old Victorian house that was looked after by a lady named Mrs Potter,” he said his friend  “didn’t want to miss” The South Bank Show on TV.

“Later, producer Tony Visconti brought over a big load of the… shows which we would watch to interrupt the hilarity of the Monty Python stuff,” he said.

David Bowie in 2002 (Myung Jung Kim/PA)
David Bowie in 2002 (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

The Visual Art award went to Artangel for a project in which artists responded to the architecture of Reading Prison.

The English National Ballet’s production of Giselle and Rose Tremain’s book The Gustav Sonata also picked up awards.

The ceremony took place at London’s Savoy Hotel, with performances from classical violinist Tasmin Little and opera tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Melvyn Bragg (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
Lord Melvyn Bragg (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Host Lord Melvyn Bragg said that “despite the horror of recent events, these awards show what great shape the arts are in. They prove the power and vibrancy of our country and place the UK at the centre of the arts world.

“The arts have defied gravity in this country for decades, and now they are more powerful and welcome than ever.”

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards ceremony is broadcast on Sky Arts on Wednesday at 8pm.


Classical Music: Philharmonia Orchestra, Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals

Comedy: Fleabag (BBC3)

Dance: English National Ballet, Akram Khan’s Giselle

Film: I, Daniel Blake

Literature: The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain

Opera: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), Opera North

Pop Music: David Bowie, Blackstar

Theatre: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Palace Theatre

TV Drama: Happy Valley (BBC1)

Visual Art: Artangel, Inside: Artists And Writers In Reading Prison

Times Breakthrough: Classical Music – Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Outstanding Achievement: Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber

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