Three of the awards are given in the names of former Evening Standard notables:
- Arts editor Sydney Edwards (who conceived the awards, and died suddenly in July 1979) for the Best Director category.
- Editor Charles Wintour (who as deputy-editor in 1955, launched the awards after a nod from the then proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook') for Most Promising Playwright.
- Long-serving theatre critic Milton Shulman (for several years a key member of the judging panel) for the Outstanding Newcomer award.
In 2009 The Special Award was given in the name of Evgeny Lebedev, executive director of the Evening Standard.
In 1980, noting the first use of the Special Award category, Shulman observed that "In 1968 the judges felt that Alan Bennett's work Forty Years On did not fit either the category of a Play or a Musical. But since they liked it so much they gave him the coveted Dobson statuette as a Special Award. In a quarter of a century, only in 1968 had no-one been designated as 'Promising' although it could conceivably be argued that Alan Bennett's Special Award was a reasonable substitute for this category."
The Special Awards process came to a climax in 2004 when, in the 50th anniversary year, the category was used to signal peaks of accomplishment by the National Theatre (an institution), Harold Pinter (a playwright) and Dame Judi Dench (a performer).
The Patricia Rothermere Award, presented biennially from 1999 to 2005 recognised those who had given outstanding support to young actors. There was also a three-year scholarship award for a drama student. Lady Rothermere is the wife of Lord Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust, former owners of the Evening Standard.
Commencing in 2007, the award for Best Musical was renamed The Ned Sherrin Award, in memory of the entertainer and raconteur, for many years the witty compere of the Evening Standard Awards ceremony.
The Best Actress award is now named in tribute to Natasha Richardson, who died after a skiing accident in Quebec in March 2009.
Read more about this topic: Evening Standard Awards
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