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Each year the Olivier Award winners are decided after intense and passionate debate from a mixture of distinguished industry professionals, theatre luminaries and members of the public, all who share a passion for the dramatic wealth of talent that London theatre offers.

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) oversees four panels - Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates.  Professional panellists are chosen for their knowledge of the world of theatre, opera and dance, and are members of various professions including journalists, casting directors, arts administrators and publishers. They are chosen by the Chief Executive of SOLT following advice from the SOLT Awards Office and external advisors.

Each year, SOLT launches a media campaign to invite members of the public to be Olivier Awards panellists. Prospective panellists are asked to submit a show review and then undergo interviews with the Chief Executive of SOLT and the awards office.

At the end of the judging period, the Affiliates, Dance and Opera panellists select the shows they consider most worthy of an Olivier Award and vote on a winner. For the Theatre Panel the procedure happens in two stages.  First, the panel creates a long list which is submitted to all SOLT members.  The members then vote for their favourites after which their votes are collated with the panellists’ to produce a shortlist.  The second stage sees the shortlists voted on by both panellists and SOLT members to produce the winners in each category.

While there is much debate and gossip among fans, theatre aficionados and the theatrical glitterati, the winners in each category are a closely guarded secret, known only to the president of SOLT, the Awards Office and the engraver of the statuettes themselves until they are announced at the Olivier Awards ceremony.

Applications to become a public panellist are now closed.