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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Perrier ends Edinburgh comedy tie
The League of Gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen won the award in 1997
Perrier is to stop sponsoring the comedy awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after 25 years.

The awards, which have been known as The Perriers for years, will now be called the if.comeddies.

The new sponsors, Scottish banking firm Intelligent Finance, give the awards their new prefix.

Cambridge Footlights were the first recipients of the prize in 1981. Other winners include Steve Coogan, Lee Evans and The League of Gentlemen.

"Twenty five years is a record time for a sponsorship and we felt that it is time for us to explore new opportunities," said Perrier's managing director Stefano Agostini.

The awards' organisers say the new name is meant to be "friendly" and easy for audiences to remember, like the Oscars.

"Our new name incorporates three things," explained producer Nica Burns, "Edinburgh, the name of our new sponsor [and] the word comedy".

She said she hoped the awards would come to be called the Eddies.

Burns also announced changes to the awards, including an increased prize fund and the creation of a new programme to develop comedy talent.

Stepping stone

Over the last quarter of a century, the comedy awards have expanded in parallel with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Dylan Moran
Dylan Moran beat Bill Bailey to win the 1996 award
"There used to be just 50 shows eligible for the award," said Burns, "now there are 250".

A panel of 10 judges - seven professionals and three members of the public - attend all of these shows before deciding on a winner.

For many, such as Dylan Moran and Al Murray, the award has been a stepping stone to bigger things in television, movies and the comedy circuit.

A best newcomer prize is also awarded to an act making its debut performance at the festival.

However, the awards have been criticised for ignoring female comics.

Only two women have ever won as solo performers - Jenny Eclair in 1995 and Laura Solon in 2005.

Former winners Rob Newman and Emma Thompson, who won with Cambridge Footlights, called for a boycott of the awards in 2001 in protest at the involvement of Perrier's owners, Nestle, in marketing powdered baby milk in developing countries.

As a result, an alternative competition called The Tap Water Awards was set up the following year.

Perrier runs dry after 25 years
14 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
Female comic wins Perrier award
28 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
Comedy awards get politically charged
05 Aug 02 |  Entertainment
Award hails 'unknown' comedy star
28 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Protests greet male Perrier shortlist
21 Aug 02 |  Entertainment
Tap Water Awards want fresh start
24 Aug 02 |  Entertainment

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