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Jimmy Nesbitt dramas occupy top spot at Prix festival

Two conflict dramas starring Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt have won awards at the prestigious Prix Europa in Berlin.

Occupation, the BBC Iraq war drama which was filmed in Belfast last year, won the Prix Europa for the best episode of a drama series or serial.

It starred Nesbitt alongside Warren Brown and Stephen Graham.

And Five Minutes Of Heaven, which was also filmed in Belfast and starred Nesbitt opposite Liam Neeson, picked up a special commendation in the same category.

Praising Occupation, the Prix Europa jury said: “Excellent performances, beautifully written, powerful direction — violent but also highly sensitive — this is TV drama at its very best.”

The three-part serial, written by Peter Bowker and directed by Nick Murphy, traced the lives of three British soldiers and spanned the five years that followed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nesbitt played Sergeant Mike Swift, a married British Army medic who falls in love with an Iraqi doctor.

Five Minutes Of Heaven told the story of the 1975 murder of 19-year-old Catholic man Jim Griffin by 17-year-old Alistair Little. It then depicts a fictional meeting between Little and his victim’s brother Joe some 33 years later. Nesbitt played Joe Griffin in the BBC drama which was written by Guy Hibbert and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Both dramas were funded by Northern Ireland Screen.

Patrick Spence, head of Drama at BBC Northern Ireland said: “The Prix Europa is a very big deal indeed. Both teams should feel fantastically proud of what they have achieved.”

Prix Europa is the biggest annual European competition for television, radio and emerging media productions.

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