Helen Mirren Wins Award, But Judges Claim Contest Was Rigged

Image: Helen Mirren Wins Award, But Judges Claim Contest Was Rigged

Monday, 16 Dec 2013 04:12 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Actress Helen Mirren received an Evening Standard Best Actress award, but the way the award was decided has been brought into question after three judges resigned in protest, alleging the ceremony was rigged, the Guardian reported.

Out of five independent judges, Susannah Clapp of The Observer, Georgina Brown of the Sunday Mail, and Charles Spencer of The Telegraph quit because of their concern about how Mirren received the award when there was a tie after the first round of secret ballots, the Guardian said.

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Apparently, after a secret ballot came up with a tie for two winners of Best Actress, a judge who works for the Evening Standard, Henry Hitchings, talked with editor Sarah Sands and changed his vote, making Mirren the winner, the Daily Mail said.

The Times reported that a second judge, who also works for the award sponsor, changed a vote in Mirren’s favor, as well.

"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. It was an absolutely legitimate choice."

Clapp, who told the Guardian that she didn’t want to criticize Mirren’s win, said she was “surprised” at several of the winners, adding, “in the case of the Best Actress award, I simply didn’t understand how the result was reached.”

Spencer wrote on a blog for his newspaper, the Telegraph, that he became concerned about the judging last year when rules changed.

He said his “jaw dropped” when Mirren won the prize, and ended his column saying, “In the end awards are no more than the icing on the theatrical cake, but this year it left a bitter taste in the mouth.”

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