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Golden Roses adorn stars of the small screen

Golden roses will be in abundance at the annual television festival Keystone

The creators of the legendary British comedy group Monty Python and fundraiser Bob Geldof are to be honoured at this year’s Golden Rose television awards.

They will join a host of other Swiss and international personalities at the 45th festival, which started on Tuesday in Lucerne.

The six-day event was opened by Swiss Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger and adventurer Bertrand Piccard.

The festival, often dubbed the “Oscars” for television, recognises programmes which have made a big impression abroad. It is sponsored by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo’s parent company.

The Monty Python team will be inducted into the festival’s Hall of Fame, which is located on Lucerne’s 3,000-metre-high Mt Titlis. The Hall was opened last year in an ice cave, deep in the glacier, as a permanent tribute to past Golden Rose winners.

“We’ve got Terry Jones coming along and he’ll be going up to Mt Titlis to collect the honour on behalf of the other fellow Monty Python team members,” said Angela Stephenson, head of talent and international PR at the Golden Rose.

This is not the first time that the comedy group has been awarded “roses” at the festival. It was presented with its first Golden Rose in 1971 and an honorary Golden Rose in 1995.

British commercial channel ITV, which is celebrating 50 years of broadcasting, will also be given a place in the Hall of Fame.

Peter Ustinov remembered

Bob Geldof, a former singer and tireless fundraiser for Africa, is to receive this year’s charity award. He was the creator of the Band Aid single and the Live Aid pop concert that raised millions of dollars for humanitarian causes.

“He’s been given the award to commemorate the fact that it is the 20th anniversary of Live Aid on July 13, 2005,” Stephenson told swissinfo.

The award is being presented in memory of the late Peter Ustinov. The actor, raconteur and long-time Swiss resident was due to receive the honour last year, but died just two months before the festival.

Also gracing the red carpet will be singer and Unicef goodwill ambassador Harry Belafonte, who will present the award to Geldof, and actors Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings) and Zoe Wanamaker (Harry Potter).

United States soapstars Lorenzo Lamas and Lesley-Anne Down from the hugely popular The Bold and the Beautiful – known in Switzerland as Top Models – will also be making an appearance, said Stephenson. They are both up for awards in the soap category.

There is also a healthy sprinkling of Swiss personalities. Apart from Leuenberger and Piccard, Swiss television presenter, Kurt Aeschbacher, will be hosting the Golden Rose Ball and former cabinet minister and current United Nations ambassador for sport and development, Adolf Ogi, will take part in the festival’s entertainment panel and new humanitarian award.


Stephenson said that the Golden Rose was also hoping to build on the strengths of last year’s festival, which was held for the first time in Lucerne after 43 years in Montreux.

There are 15 per cent more entries in 2005, with productions from 140 media companies from a record 33 countries.

As usual the selection is dominated by German and English-speaking television programmes. Of the 125 programmes selected for the final, 47 per cent come from Britain, the US and Canada and 13 per cent from Germany and Austria.

By contrast the host country has managed only two productions this year in the Arts and Specials and Music categories. Stephenson says Switzerland’s small TV market puts a limit on the number of programmes which can be entered, but she insists that the festival is proud of its Swiss roots.

“I know the festival greatly values the fact that it is based in Switzerland and it enhances the festival’s value on the international stage because Switzerland is perfectly placed politically and geographically to attract people to take part,” Stephenson told swissinfo.


She added that Swiss influence was apparent in one of the Golden Rose’s main additions for this year, the “Social Awareness Award”, which will be presented to programming that highlights the issues around HIV/Aids.

Its launch will be attended by Ogi, as well as the UN Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Shashi Tharoor.

“The fact that [the award] takes place on Swiss soil is not an accident given that Switzerland has a very long history of involvement in those kinds of initiatives throughout the world,” said Stephenson.

“There’s no doubt that there is support for social awareness and humanitarian activities within the Swiss nation and I think that’s something that they can be very proud of.”

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson

The Golden Rose was first held in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1961, with the BBC being awarded the first-ever prize for the Black and White Minstrel Show.

The festival moved to Lucerne last year and introduced new prizes including best soap actor and actress, best performance by a male and female comedian and best game show host.

Past winners include The Muppet Show, Liza Minelli, Barbra Streisand, The Simpsons and Mr Bean.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR