The Writer's Prize: Why write for radio?

Wednesday 31 October 2012, 16:13

Paul Ashton Paul Ashton

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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.


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    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

    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

    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 ...

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    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

    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.


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