Gregory Burke’s Black Watch was the surprise winner at the eleventh annual South Bank Show Awards, which honours the UK’s creative talent across a wide range of the arts.

At a star-studded event held today at London’s Savoy Hotel, the National Theatre of Scotland production – which premiered at a Traverse Theatre offshoot at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe – fought off competition from two other new plays, both premiered in London: Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, now in the West End after its sell-out run at the Donmar Warehouse and ahead of its Broadway transfer, and JT Rogers’ The Overwhelming, presented by Out of Joint at the National prior to a UK tour.

Written by Gregory Burke (Gagarin Way, The Straits), based on interviews with soldiers who served in Iraq, Black Watch is an unauthorised biography of the legendary Scottish military troop of the title. It won a host of awards, including a Fringe First, at last year’s Edinburgh festival, and was the first big hit for the fledgling National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), which has now confirmed details of its spring tour.

The Black Watch tour will open 14 March 2007 at Pitlochry Festival Theatre before continuing, until 18 May, to Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dumfries and Inverness. The site-specific production is then due to transfer to London in the summer, co-produced with the Barbican as part of its BITE:07 festival. Full details of the London dates and location are due to be confirmed by mid-February.

The tour and transfer will reunite eight of Black Watch’s original cast members – David Colvin, Ali Craig, Emun Elliott, Ryan Fletcher, Peter Forbes, Paul Rattray and Nabil Stuart – once again directed by John Tiffany.

At the South Bank Show Awards, hosted by series editor and presenter Melvyn Bragg, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? winner and Sound of Music star Connie Fisher was pipped to the post for the Breakthrough Award by Archie Bronson Outfit, a three-piece group from Wiltshire. Run in conjunction with The Times newspaper and specifically recognising rising British talent, the Breakthrough is the only one of the South Bank’s 13 categories voted for by the public.

Both Fisher and Black Watch have also been nominated in Whatsonstage.com’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to vote now!). Black Watch is in the running for Best Regional Production, while Fisher, this year’s only two-time nominee, is competing for both Best Actress in a Musical and London Newcomer of the Year.

Amongst the celebrities who attended the South Bank Show Awards ceremony today were Russell Brand, Claudia Schiffer, Graham Norton, Stephen Frears, Connie Fisher, Michael Sheen, Ben Whishaw, Emma Bunton, Ricky Gervais, Ken Russell, Beverley Knight and Caroline Aherne. The ceremony will be aired, as part of the ITV1 arts programme, this Sunday, 28 January 2007.

- by Terri Paddock