The Writer's Prize: Why write for radio?

Wednesday 31 October 2012, 16:13

Paul Ashton Paul Ashton

Tagged with:

Writer's Prize The Writer's Prize for radio.

You’ve probably noticed by now that The Writer’s Prize has opened its doors to original drama and comedy scripts. Which made us think: are there writers out there who don’t know what a brilliant opportunity radio is?

So here’s a round-up of some of the very good reasons why any writer should want to write for radio:

  • BBC radio is by far the biggest single commissioner of original drama and comedy in the world – full stop
  • The vast majority of opportunities for drama writers on radio are highly individual single, authored pieces (even if you somehow managed to get your movie script made, you’d still struggle to get into the cinema the number of people who would hear it on radio)
  • Many hugely popular and brilliantly original TV comedy shows started their life on the radio – Little Britain, Knowing Me Knowing You, Goodness Gracious Me, Miranda, The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh, Dead Ringers, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Hancock’s Half Hour, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Day Today
  • A vast array of brilliant writers have worked in radio – from Tyrone Guthrie and Dylan Thomas, to Douglas Adams, Spike Milligan and Marty Feldman, to Tom Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, Anthony Minghella and Lee Hall, to Mike Bartlett, Roy Williams and Katie Hims
  • You can get amazingly successful and celebrated actors to be in your radio play – and they don’t even need to shave/do make up/commit to weeks of filming
  • Radio is the cinema of the airwaves – it’s all about the visual world conjured up in the listener’s head, and the ambition and scope the writer brings to it
  • You can take your story, characters and listeners anywhere in the known (or unknown) universe without the budgetary constrictions you’d get with a film or TV shoot
  • In radio, writers work very closely with producers and are intimately involved with the development and production
  • In radio, writers can have an extremely intimate relationship with the listener – and therefore can tell stories in ways that just wouldn’t work in any other medium


    The Writer's Prize is a brand new opportunity for radio drama and comedy writers to write for BBC Radio.  We are looking for original, multi-character narrative scripts.The prize is the opportunity for a Radio 3 or Radio 4 Drama commission, or a pilot commission for a Radio 4 Comedy.  Find out more.

    Join us on Wednesday 7th November from 11.30pm - 12.30pm for a special Twitter Q&A on The Writer's Prize. Tweet your questions to @bbcwritersroom using the hashtag #WritersPrize.

 

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    I have heard quite a few dramas' in which no effort is made what so ever on the accents written, why is this? Surely, if the actors are incapable of such, we should use new actors from our diverse society; I find it most off putting.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    If such emphasise is placed on the first ten pages of any script, why is it that those of the script library are often later episodes? As a writer seeking example, a series that already up and running gives me little beyond entertainment.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Pretzki - I've heard lots with actors doing their own, authentic regional accents/dialects. But one problem in production can be that the budget for radio isn't vast and recording is pretty quick, so sometimes you need actors to double-up roles/parts. The BBC radio drama rep company do an amazing job of voicing and peopling a huge number of dramas week in week out - but there's bound to be times when it doesn't quite work as you'd hoped ...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Pretzki - do you mean long-running radio show scripts? A large of proportuiin of the TV series scripts (except continuing and very long running shows) are opening episodes, with long-runners we put up recent eps by current writers. But there's plenty of singles and opening eps on the site to feed any hunger for opening 10 pages, just have a good dig around the library ...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Are you saying more people listen to programs on the radio than people go to see a film? If so then that is a great statistic.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    Dean - no, but smaller niche domestically-orientated films can have very limited runs in cinemas and be seen by far fewer people than would listen to a radio drama. Obviously big films with the weight of big studios and big publicity machines are designed to reach mass audiences - but many british films, and many spec film scripts written by british writers (and sent to us) are not really mass-audience-minded. So all I'm really saying is that is if you want to tell original authored stories and get them in front of an avid audience, then radio is a great place

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    Can I enter one script in the comedy and one in the drama? Or do I have to write a dramatic comedy?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    Leo - only one entry per writer permitted - drama and comedy slots are very different so decide which one you most want to write for ...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    Thank you Paul.

    Looks like I should avoid the comedy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Perhaps I missed this information...in a radio play (as per your format example) is there a standard typeface and font size a writer uses (as per screenplays)...and if so how does this work in terms of timing eg for a 60 min radio play

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    Hi Paul


    DOn't take it personally, unless you were one of the brilliant and dynamic experts that devised this Wrtier's Prize (WP). The WP doesn't mention short story, when you say 'drama' you mean a play script format? I hope this is clear. I also struggle greatly with this idea or criterion that the WP people put out: 'multi character' 'no monologues.' this is an utter disgrace for a radio station that has championed Beckett, and recently read the whole of Ulysses. What about monologues that can do so much more with the language than a group of conventional characters? I find it OFFENSIVE and EXCLUSIIVE AND DOWNRIGHT UNFAIR!!! to blow your bloody trumpets about how prestigious this prizes will be when you pigeon hole, and put it in a box, right from the start. So what I as 'a writer' demand to know is WHY the hell NOT?~?????

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    moderators, champions of new writing!!!! offensive words!!! wow!! if Alexander Pope was a live to see it, Oscar Wilde! Shakespeare. Joyce!!! this is backward and offensive to the writer... not to mention the muses...
    this is anti creative, and stifling and controlling and dominating and again unfair.... where's the fun>? and openness?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Mhepton - our radio scrpt examples give youi an idea of standard formatting. It"s harder to jiudge the length woth radio scripts, it's less precise than screenplays and is much more dependant on pace, tone and how the words ae delivered. You need to read it aloud, allowoing space for action/muisc, and time the length.

    John killean - the commissoners judging the Writer's Prize wanted to see multi-character dramas. They are not somehow discrediting or rejecting monoogue - they just want to see a specific thing in this opportunity, this time round. There have been opportunities for monologues in the past - perhaps you missed these? The other thing that may have been a factor, is that monologues are exceptionally, notoriously difficult to write well and make dramatic. We've read aa lot of unsolicited monologues from writers and unfortunately it's very easy to write undramatic prose in which a character simply explains or narrates something that has happened.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    John Killeen - why not just write the best bloody dialogue they've ever read and get your monologue commissioned off the back of it - it's probably what Wilde would've done.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Hi there, thanks for your response, much appreciate. I have one other question. when you say 'multicharacter,' does this mean that, I ma wasting my time sending a piece that has only thee characters or two? I have missed your live question and answer session, unfortunately and am still unsure about what this prize really aims to achieve. Why do you not qualify the 'multicharacter?' what do you mean by this? Does it have to be ten characters the whole way through? because that's what it sounds like - or five? or six? or more than three or four? I'm really sorry to be a drag but it confuses the hell out of me.
    thanks.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    Hello Paul,

    I really want to submit my play for this opportunity. I listen to a lot of Radio 4 drama but I'm sure that my piece will be more suitable for The Wire. However, I can't seem to find any archive scripts for this strand. Can you point me in the right direction? I don't have a Twitter account so won't be joining the Q&A.

    (My submission will be an adaptation of a theatre play (my own, unproduced) and some of the material is not afternoon friendly.) Thanks Paul.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    I have recently sent in a script for the BBC Autumn deadline (31st Oct). Can I enter the same script for the writers prize? I am sure the Web site (before 31st Oct), said something about entering for both.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Robert - in fact, we've been asking people to NOT submit to both, and indicated this on the Script Room cover sheet - it's not at all helpful to have the same scrpt being considered separately for two nearly concurrent opportunities. If it's a radio script, then it makes best sense to just submit to the Writer's Prize - we can withdraw it from Script Room if this is the case - would you like us to do this?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Hi Paul - at the launch, we were told that we could enter one drama script and one comedy script. This is what I have been aiming at. I just noticed one of your comments says that only one submission is allowed. Would you be able to let me know...

 

Page 1 of 2

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Writersroom Success Stories

Monday 29 October 2012, 14:50

Next
Updating Dickens for Daytime

Friday 2 November 2012, 12:01

About this Blog

Behind-the-scenes insights from writers and producers on BBC TV and radio programmes.  

Get top tips on script writing and follow the journeys of writers who have come through BBC writersroom schemes and opportunities.

 

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?