There has clearly been a flurry of comments about the CBBC competition - I'm afraid I haven't been able to reply until today. But rather than deal with numerous individual comments, i'll try to make some more general ones about the submissions -
We fully appreciate that it's frustrating to be kept waiting for a decision and to want an individual response and feedback. But we did turn it around very very quickly and we did give a deadline by which we would contact shortlisted writers. With more than 700 entires, we simply cannot offer feedback other than to those shortlisted. (This was all in the rules and regulations, of course.)
We did receive more entries than we expected. Which did mean the odds stacked more heavily against any given writer. But it was great that the opportunity caught the imagination so much.
The process we operated was this:
A team of readers read at least the first ten pages - if they weren't hooked or engaged enough by some element of the script by this point, then it was given a 'no'. If they were immediately impressed, it was given a 'yes' and longlisted. If they were unsure, then they read on until they felt confident about making a longlisting decision. If they were still unsure, it was given to another reader for a second opinion. If they were still unsure, it was put through anyway to give the benefit of the doubt. We also had regular reading team catch-ups every couple of hours about the scripts they were putting through, the ones they were unsure about etc.
All longlisted scripts were second-read by either myself or our in-house script reader. We then recommended on scripts for a third-read by Kate Rowland. Once this swathe of reading was done, we sat down with the piles of third-read and second-read scripts and talked about them. This is where we decided on our shortlist for the masterclass.
We did receive a fair proportion of scripts that showed promising writing and writers - but that just didn't really connect with the brief and the potential audience. In fact, we received a lot of scripts in general that didn't have central characters below the age of 12, that were unsuitable for a 6-12 audience, that weren't particularly imagined and told from the child's point of view. We also received a lot of scripts covering very similar precincts and ideas. For example, school - first day of school, bullying at school, geeks at school, weird conspiracy/sci-fi/alien/monster at school. We had a lot of portals into other dimensions, plenty of time travel, a fair few goblins/monsters/aliens.
The ones that got through to the next stages had an original perspective on precincts and ideas - a unique touch with the characters, idea, world, tone. There were a lot of very competent scripts - but we focused our energy on that small proportion that were doing something different, something we'd never seen before, something that surprised us, something that hooked us emotionally, something that made us laugh out loud.
So that's how it worked. A couple of other things:
Just because there isn't a coffee stain on your script, doesn't mean it hasn't been looked at - we in fact ask our readers not to abuse scripts while on the premises.
Our readers work extremely hard for us - even if writers don't get feedback, that doesn't mean we are treating your script with contempt in any way shape or form. If we say we're not going to email everyone or do a blog post in our rules and regulations then it's not really bad manners to not do them.
And yes, we do read the blog comment trails...!