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Petition calls on ITV to screen Oliviers live and in full

Gemma Arteron at the Olivier Awards 2015. ITV's coverage has been criticised for cutting several performances. Photo: Pamela Raith
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Around 500 people have signed a petition calling on ITV and the Society of London Theatre to broadcast next year’s Olivier Awards in full.

The petition, hosted on website Change.org, states that the awards “are the biggest and most important ceremony in British theatre”.

It adds: “ITV, for the past few years, has screened a highlights show, which most of the theatre community have found disrespectful and unsatisfactory, with awards and performances being completely cut out altogether. Next year, we would like to see the awards screened live, as ITV feel they can do with the soap awards and the National Television Awards and the Brit Awards. If not live, please screen the awards in their entirety in place of a badly stitched together ‘highlights’ show.”

Included among the 474 signatories is performer Cedric Neal, who appeared at the awards with the company of Porgy and Bess, from the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park. The cast’s performance was cut from ITV’s coverage.

Neal said: “This was supposed to be one of the proudest moments of my life. It turned into one of the most embarrassing when I had to repeatedly try to answer questions from family and friends like, ‘Why weren’t you on the show?’ and ‘Did you really perform?’.”

He added: “At the least, some notices could have been given to companies that [their performances] were cut. It’s tacky.”

ITV’s highlights package of the awards, shown from 10.15pm until midnight on the night of the awards, was viewed by 700,000 people on average – a drop from the previous two years the awards have been shown by the broadcaster.

ITV declined to comment.

Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT and executive producer of the awards, said: “SOLT is in conversation with ITV about coverage of the Olivier Awards in coming years, and we very much value the relationship that we have developed over the last three years.”

ITV’s coverage was also criticised by viewers on Twitter after Angela Lansbury’s acceptance speech for the supporting actress award was not shown in its entirety.

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