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Investigative journalist Mobeen Azhar’s indie Forest has been crowned Emerging Indie of the Year at the 2023 Broadcast Awards.

Azhar, who rose to fame with his 2019 BBC3 series Hometown: A Killing, runs the company with co-founder Jez Lee, 7Wonder’s former head of factual.

The award recognises its impactful output and its environmental mission: it plants a tree for every person it works with – 143 to date.

Forest’s BBC3 series Scam Land: Money, Mayhem and Masaratis was shortlisted for Best Documentary Series. Its other docs include BBC2’sThe Battle For Britney, in which Azhar dug into the story behind Britney Spears’ controversial conservatorship, and BBC3’s Santa the Serial Killer, in which a serial killer case highlights the fautlnes between Toronto’s queer community, police and immigrant population.

Forest is also working with emerging talent such as Amber Haque, who fronted a second series of Hometown.

At last night's ceremony, the indie beat five rivals to the prize: sports indie Buzz 16, Bristol’s factual outfit Honey Bee, drama producers Long Story TV and Mam Tor Productions, and Devon-based unscripted indie The Format Factory.

Sister was named Best Independent Production Company and also took home Best Drama Series for BBC1’s This Is Going to Hurt. The other contenders were CPL Productions, Dancing Ledge Productions, See-Saw Films, South Shore and Whisper.

BBC2’s disability activism drama Then Barbara Met Alan, written by Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr, who featured in a Talent Manager Masterclass and also steer the Underlying Health Condition pressure group campaigning for better access in TV.

Other notable winners included:

Best Single Doc: The Real Mo Farah (Atomized Studios for BBC1)
Best Doc Series: Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story (72 Films for Netflix)
Best Specialist Factual: When Worlds Collide: The Manchester Bombing (Label 1 for ITV1)
Best Popular Factual: Olivia Attwood: Getting Filthy Rich (Optomen for ITV2)
Best Original Programme: Mood (Bonafide Films for BBC2)

For a full list of winners, see Broadcast’s website.

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