The UK’s CAMEO Awards: 2020 Shortlisted Book Adaptations

In News by Porter Anderson

In their most timely iteration yet, London’s CAMEO Awards cheer collaborations in Brexitian Britain’s creative industries, honoring book adaptations to film, television, stage, and audio.

Image – iStockphoto: Le Musique

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Jacks Thomas: ‘Books as a Source Material’
Marking the start of the public-facing London Book and Screen Week, this year’s CAMEO Award winners will be named on March 9–the eve of the opening of London Book Fair–at London’s White City House.

While likely not a central element of the programming this year, the fact of Brexit’s official status stands quietly during the transition behind the spirit of the CAMEO Awards. As the British economy and governmental elements go through many adjustments, the creative industries will be vying for attention, funding, trade agreements, and status. Any demonstration of the associated strength of publishing with film, television, and audio can only help to reflect strength and unity in an uncertain moment.

In their London original format coming next month, the CAMEOs again cover their full gamut, with honors for adaptations of literature for film, stage, and television, as well as audio. The acronym refers to Creativity Across Media: Entertainment and Originality.

And the program, now in its fourth year, already has added a component that reflects the export power of the UK’s publishing industry. Publishing Perspectives readers will remember that Jacks Thomas–who directs both London Book Fair and Book and Screen Week–hosted a special audiobook edition of the CAMEOs in New York during BookExpo, giving American attendees a chance to hear from the actor and audiobook narrator Jim Dale.

In that case, the CAMEOs were on tour to honor American producers of audiobooks–based on properties established by UK publishers. That’s exactly how to leverage London Book Fair’s many programs to benefit an industry facing many questions, particularly about its critical presence in world markets.

In March, the awards ceremony on LBF Monday will feature this year’s London Book and Screen Week ambassador, crime-drama author Lynda La Plante. A perfect choice for the collaborative-industries ethos of the CAMEOs, La Plante is best known for the Prime Suspect television series. More of the television work La Plante is known for includes WidowsAbove Suspicion and The Governor.

And judges in the CAMEOs base their decisions on criteria including, but not limited to: box office sales; review coverage; critical acclaim; social media profile; and industry prize nominations.

2020 CAMEO Awards Shortlists

Book to Film

Little Women

  • Book original by Louisa May Alcott
  • Directed by: Greta Gerwig
  • Screenplay: Greta Gerwig

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

  • Book original by Cressida Cowell (Hodder Children’s Books)
  • Directed by: Dean DeBlois
  • Screenplay: Dean DeBlois


  • Book original by Matthew Holness
  • Directed by: Matthew Holness
  • Screenplay: Matthew Holness

Book to Television

Elizabeth is Missing

  • Book original by Emma Healey (Penguin)
  • Adapted by Andrea Gibb

Good Omens

  • Book original by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Corgi)
  • Adapted by Neil Gaiman

His Dark Materials

  • Book original by Philip Pullman (Scholastic)
  • Adapted by Jack Thorne

Book to Stage

Life of Pi

  • Book original by Yann Martel (Canongate)
  • Adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti for Wyndham’s Theatre

Small Island

  • Book original by Andrea Levy (Tinder Press)
  • Adapted by Helen Edmundson for National Theatre

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

  • Book original by C. S. Lewis (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Adapted by Sally Cookson

Book to Audio

My Sister The Serial Killer 

  • Book original by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic)
  • Adapted by Avid Audio

Norse Mythology

  • Book original by Neil Gaiman
  • (Bloomsbury)
  • Adapted by HarperAudio


  • Book original by Candice Carty-Williams
  • (Trapeze) Adapted by Orion
‘The Ingenuity of the Storytellers’

Jacks Thomas

In a prepared statement, Thomas is quoted saying that these shortlists spotlight “what an enormously exciting time it is for collaboration within the creative industries.

“Across films, TV programs, theater productions and audiobooks, the scope and variety of our shortlistees demonstrates the true richness within books as a source material for other mediums, as well as the ingenuity of the storytellers adapting them.”

This year’s jurors are chaired by Helen Macaleer and include:

  • Philippa Donovan (Smart Quill)
  • Philippa Milnes Smith (Soho Agency)
  • Katrien Roos (Harbottle and Lewis)
  • John Lomas (Bullivant/Kickback Media)
  • Hayley Steed (Madeleine Milburn Agency)
  • Colin Williams (Sixteen South)
  • Videl Bar Kar (Bookwire)
  • Jessica Maslen (Blair Partnership)
  • Tamsin Collison
  • Julia Posen
  • Charlotte Longstaff (Ambassador Group)
  • Rina Gill (RGM Productions)

And in a positioning statement for today’s announcement, the CAMEOs’ producers say:

“In a world in which stories are being consumed in so many forms, the CAMEOs showcase the significant contribution that books make within the wider creative industries, recognizing adaptations that have made the most impact in the last calendar year.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on adaptations is here, on London Book Fair is here, and on BookExpo is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.