Script Room: the final selection

Monday 1 October 2012, 18:03

Paul Ashton Paul Ashton

... It all started earlier this year with a new website, and an opportunity to breathe fresh air into a script system that had opened its doors to 50,000 scripts over more than 10 years. What we'd noticed is that the way we run our one-off talent searches seems to make everyone (us, the writers, BBC departments) happier, more excited, more successful than an interminably rolling 'unsolicited' system. (For evidence of this, see the CBBC show Wolfblood by Debbie Moon, which came directly out of our last CBBC open opportunity and is currently wowing younger audiences.) We don't see scripts as unsolicited - we see them as wanted, called for, welcomed. Only a tiny proportion progress all the way through any opportunity - but that doesn't mean we're not genuinely fired up about uncovering that tiny proportion as it comes through the door.

Script-Room-Session-2.jpg Script Room writers have a group chat with Hilary Salmon, Executive Producer, BBC Drama

On Tuesday, we welcomed through the doors of BBC Broadcasting House a group of 25 writers whose work had progressed through Script Room (first sift, second sift, full read, to final shortlist) and fought off competition from the other 1800 scripts submitted. They had written anything and everything from hi-concept TV Drama, to comedy-action-adventure movie, to downright strange sitcom, to intense stage play, to poignant radio drama, to boisterous children's show. The writers and the writersroom team spent time getting to know one another, dissected a current drama and sitcom we'd all watched, speed-dating (of sorts) with a range of BBC execs, producers and development people, and talking through what they want to do and how we might be able to help.

  Script-Room-Session-1.jpg Script Room writers have a group chat with David Hunter, BBC Drama Producer

Some of the writers will be recommended straight to BBC people/departments, some will come back for other tailored development sessions, some we'll read more scripts, some we'll help develop future scripts. The ball is also firmly back in their court as to how they move forward - our job will be to help and encourage them where we can.

Script-Room-Session-.jpg The Brothers Lynch - Script Room writing duo, having an interview about their experiences

In the meantime, the next Script Room doors are open and scripts are already steadily trickling through... (Or is that another flood of scripts I can see coming towards us?)

Ps. If you have a radio drama or a radio comedy, make sure you send it to the Writer's Prize rather Script Room this time round ... !


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    Comment number 5.

    'It will be different at the other end of the process in that the Writer's Prize will be judged by Radio Commissioners.'

    Well yes and no. They are the end-of-game judges all the time. Those names are so familiar to us all.

    Maybe fresh eyes could scan for fresh talent - just for an experiment? A Writer's Prize judged by Writers. Yes I know Bread and Roses went awry but that was a rather particular case. Let's have a team of stellar writers to judge the final stages and see is their selections differ in any way. For the next TV drama prize, ask Bowker, Mellor, Wainwright which scripts they'd like to be made - and not which they think commissioners would choose. It would be like having a guest editor on a mag or even on Today: zingy.

    Don't we all love a bit of zing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Paul, I would guess that I am one of the oldest people submitting in the latest window. Is my age likely to reduce the chances of my script progressing? Or will I get an equal opportunity regardless?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The Writers Room f.a.q. says 30 minute episode, the T's and C's says "more than 30 pages/minutes", does this mean 29 pages which appears to read to 30 minutes for me will be rejected? Many thanks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Thomas - something like you describe is fine if it's very loosely based/inspired. We only acknowledge submissions following the deadline - anything ineligible and we'll likely contact you sooner

    Chaffinch - actually there will be two writers co-judging the Writer's Prize - tba. Russell T Davis and Abi Morgan are co-judging the Wales Award as I type ...

    Jim - we don't consider or regard age in any way so long as writers are over a basic minimum age

    Cosmic Ten - we take a sensible approach to these things - but if it looks and feels underlength then it just won't progress ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Hi Paul

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    I will be soon submitting my script to the writers room. As it is a first episode i.e. a pilot I was wondering if you had any advice on what to include/not include in the brief outline of further episodes and the series/serial as a whole.

    Many thanks.


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