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Writers Academy 20

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Ceri Meyrick | 16:36 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

What Happens Next?

Last week we finished the classroom part of the course, and the writers now all go off to start their commissions on the shows next month. They'll be writing Casualty, EastEnders, Holby and Doctors for most of the next year. These are real commissions for which they're paid a real fee, of course. No more dry runs. For all the preparation a course can give you - and I think ours is pretty good - there's no way a writer can know what's it's like until they actually start to work with the shows. They're not given special treatment - if they don't make it, they don't work after the first year.

So, for all of you thinking of applying next year, we're hoping to advertise in April. But I just wanted to also say that it's really not the only way to write for Continuing Drama. I feel like I've said this many times, but writers still tell me they think it's the only way in. It absolutely isn't! All our Shadow Schemes are up and running next year for each show (see our Continuing Drama webpages on this site for more info). We're hoping that the EastEnders online spin off - E20 - written by 16-22 year olds will run again later in 2010. We will also be running regular courses and events with the Writersroom, who also work very closely with us winkling out suitable talent from their massive pile of submissions to pass our way. It's all part of what is now a proper concerted development plan for the training and protection of new writers in this department. We've been doing some sums here. Five years ago most new writers on their first commission for Continuing Shows failed. The current failure rate is down drastically to 20%. 92 new writers have developped (and sustain) regular careers with us since 2005. Not bad in the current climate.

One further thought before I finish blogging for a while - in danger of coming full circle and repeating myself now. I just wanted to cut and paste this from the Writersroom's interview with Jimmy McGovern - who came to talk to us at the Writers Academy last week, as he wonderfully does every year.

He was asked...

For many writers the thought of going to write on a continuing drama series makes them worry they are going to lose their individuality, their voice, who they are. What would you say to that?

"Get real. You should be so lucky. There are brilliant writers on Coronation Street, on EastEnders. I know sometimes it can look naff, but that's often down to other things. These are really good writers. If you get the chance to write something that goes out in front of eight million, nine million people, how dare you turn your nose up at that? You should give your right arm for it. I loved and hated the show I worked on. But mostly I loved it."


Happy Christmas


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