Drama writers scheme is suspended

Cast of Casualty The academy trained writers to work on dramas like Casualty

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The scheme which trains new generations of writers to work on dramas like EastEnders and Casualty is to be suspended this year.

The decision to close the BBC Drama Writers Academy in 2013 follows John Yorke's recent departure from the BBC.

The controller of drama production and new talent founded the full-time training course to find new scriptwriters for the BBC's primetime continuing dramas in 2005, devised and ran the courses and was one of the tutors.

The BBC has said the scheme will not run again in its current form, but should return in a different guise in 2014.

The academy provided a structured programme for writers with at least one professional commission in tv, theatre, radio or film.

Masterclasses

They learnt from top writers including Tony Jordan, Russell T Davies, Richard Curtis, Jimmy McGovern and Barbara Machin, as well as from leading directors such as Dearbhla Walsh, who gave masterclasses in their craft.

The students were trained in all aspects of drama production and enjoyed placements on primetime continuing dramas.

Most of its graduates have gone on to work as full-time writers, some of them at the BBC.

While the future of the academy is deliberated, the BBC is making other plans.

A statement on the BBC Writersroom website said that it was 'essential to continue to bring new writers' onto continuing dramas and that it was devising a 'more formal' way to test writers out on individual shows.

The 'Shadow Scheme' would include some training - workshops, lectures and exercises on storytelling and show format - for the writers, before they joined either EastEnders, Doctors, Casualty or Holby City, developed a script and, potentially, earned a commission.

'We are aiming to run one Shadow Scheme for each show over the course of the year but there may be opportunity to run more,' the Writersroom said.

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