Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the writersroom!

Friday 20 December 2013, 16:18

Kate Rowland Kate Rowland BBC Creative Director of New Writing

christmas-tree.jpg Merry Christmas from BBC writersroom


Thank you to everyone who submitted to the latest Script Room window. We received an amazing 2865 scripts online and we’re still logging a few posted submissions.  When you think about that in terms of the individual effort, blood, sweat, tears, imagination (and the odd bit of exposition) and the sheer determination that you’ve all put in, it’s pretty mind-blowing.

So I salute the work you've done and look forward to challenge of the big read. Script Room has been an ongoing conversation within the Writersroom team. Like you we question if we doing this the right way; will we find the best? What is the best? Why one script and not the other? To those who think this is a cynical, worthy exercise, let me reassure you it is not, but we do constantly discuss how to best invest BBC money, your money and mine, to make each submission process a really productive talent search.

So… drum roll, big announcement - here are our new plans for 2014:

Rather than the open Script Room of the past, where we considered every medium & genre of script in each round, this year we are going to try something new and be more strategic about the process, with specific windows for each genre.

This way you can plan ahead and work in a way that allows you to concentrate your talents on those areas that most interest you, while we focus our time and energy on giving you the most inspiring, informative content on the website to stimulate your thinking. We’ll also be able to work more closely with the relevant BBC departments for each submission window.

So here's how it goes:

Script room 1       March 2014                   Drama - TV & Film

Scriptroom 2        April/May 2014              Comedy - Radio/TV/Film

Scriptroom 3        June 2014                    Children's – TV (comedy & drama)

Scriptroom 4        Sept/Oct 2014               Stage and Radio Drama


Lots more will follow in the New Year but this is a heads up about the new system. Dates, details of what we will and will not read will all be online before we open the next window.

And finally we are saying goodbye to our wonderful Web producer Fiona who is going off to more musical parts. A big thank you to her and Season's Best Wishes to everyone.

Happy Christmas and get writing!



- Kate Rowland is the Creative Director of New Writing at the BBC, and Head of BBC writersroom.

Related links:

- Find out more about submitting your script to BBC writersroom.

- Get top tips on script writing in our Write a Script section.

- Explore opportunities and events for new writers.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Excellent news... will separate the wheat from the chaff.... and writers that are good at many different genres will get noticed and more opportunities... and those that excel at one genre only (Kids TV for example) have ample time to prepare their individual piece.

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    Comment number 22.

    Stevieboo. Optimism is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. I want to know what wheat looks like through management eyes - I'm no good at guessing

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    Comment number 23.

    Having just received three rejections from Film London for three short film scripts submitted, possibly the film and film funding companies could just tell (new) writers exactly what they are prepared to commission- A brief. I think that way less time and resources would be wasted entering submissions with no real chance of success.

    I think the last WR submission window awarded 0 entries any commissions. I think the next 4, 5 or 20 windows will have the same result.

    It would be good to know how many submissions the WR has received since its creation and how many have actually been commissioned.

    Presumably, if new writers stopped sending in scripts, the WR team would be unemployed, so at least the submission windows do serve some economic use.

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    Comment number 24.

    You have to remember that the people at WR aren't looking for scripts to make, they are looking for talented writers to develop.

    The very small percentage of writers in the previous Script Room window who made it through to the workshops stage now have a foot in the door. Of course, this is no guarantee of instant success, but it does mean the BBC now takes them more seriously. Depending on their skills/genres, some will be put forward to the Drama Dept where they can meet with the producers of Continuing Drama, while others will be introduced to CBBC, etc, etc.

    Paul Aston (the then "boss" of WR) said on many occasions that about 200 writers have gone on to write for radio and TV as a result of WR or one of the competitions. Commissions of scripts that writers submit, however, are very rare beasts. Like I said, it's the writer the BBC is interested in. Of course, saying that, Debbie Moon's Wolfblood started it's life as a pilot script submitted to a WR competition.

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    Comment number 25.

    Ann. I have found that offers to help emerging writers or 'championing new talent,' as the Writers' Room puts it, are shark-infested waters. The organisations funded to promote us spend most of it on promoting themselves, and as you say, it keeps them in work, while holding our own in contempt.

    If writing a novel isn't an option, writing and directing would seem to be the next step.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Commissions are mostly made as a team effort between a production company and a writer. What I mean is, the BBC might for example like to make a drama about WW1. A BBC producer then chooses a writer he/she knows would be ideal for the job. The writer is then commissioned to write the piece.

    Other times, a writer will have an idea for a show and pitch it to a production company. However, it is usually a writer who has already built a solid relationship with the prodco. If the pitch goes down well, the writer gets the commission.

    All in all, you need to think of the spec script you send into WR (or to any other production company) as your calling card. That is, an example of your writing skills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Mikey. I'm a simple man. I want to see what Writers' Room class as a script with potential. Why does a certain script stand out from the rest? I want to see ONE person at Writers Room stand by the comments they make to a writer and publish them here together with an extract of the script so that we can all see it.

    I don't think it will happen. Why? I ask myself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Kate, did my "mystery shopper" suggestion that Paul said you lot would consider make any progress?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Hello beerfagjoy.
    I suppose, yes, it can be frustrating not seeing the material which has made it through the pile, but on the other hand, I have seen script calls and contests where the shortlisted work HAS been made public; an exercise which more often than not causes even more frustration and resent.
    You get people screaming: "What? That rubbish got through? Mine's much better. Look at all thse grammatical errors! There's no plot. The Characters are bores. Look at all that exposition. Judges, what are you thinking?" etc, etc, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    29. Mikey Jackson, whether or not either method causes frustration is not important. A good writer will rise above frustration. If you see what's got through and you think it's a load of rubbish, you have two choices:

    1) Get some idea of what they're after, write something that caters to their tastes, and hope for the best; or

    2) Decide this particular avenue is a waste of time for you, and concentrate your efforts on a different outlet instead.

    I'd much rather put up with that annoyance that be kept in the dark and send endless scripts that don't have a hope in hell of making through unspecified criteria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Mikey. I'm not so green as I am cabbage-looking. I'm an adult with a brain but I suppose my trouble is that I employ it good use. The Writers Room employees - how many of them read the last batch of scripts? Twenty? Thirty? The rest of us should be seeing extracts of scripts that you consider have potential.

    I presume you're a BBC employee 'cos I see avoidance tactics to the fore. I'd rather be ignored than fobbed off.

    Give us what we want, dammit. We put a lot of time and effort into our writing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I agree with Stevieboo and imagine if we were successful, we would have to meet deadlines and this is a way of proving our worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    I made the top 5% in the last window and I then made the shortlist of that top 5%. The feedback I received was lengthy and thoroughly positive, I can honestly say there was not a single word of critcism from the readers. I was thrilled to get that far and I was thrilled to receive such positive feedback, but I must admit, when I wasn't chosen as one of the writers to meet with the BBC, the email I received said absolutely nothing about why I didn't make the very final cut which only left me floundering. I would have loved to know why I didn't get any further instead of just getting a thanks but no thanks email. A quick, single line of explanation would have been nice just to clarify.
    But I still believe the Writersroom is a good opportunity to get noticed as other writers have proven, Debbie Moon and Dominic Mitchell spring to mind and I shall continue to send in my scripts and hope I at least make it through to the very last stage at some point in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Traab. You sound like a writer - I hope you're keeping your hand in with other things.

    I haven't got the temperament to put up with the 'you might have potential but back in the gutter you go' mentality which is prevalent here. It's hard-nosed but so am I.

    MIKEY: Sight of scripts, please. It's your problem if you're dissed 'cos people don't think they're any good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Hello Chris Neville-Smith. I always rise above frustration. I was merely pointing out the frustration I see from others when shortlisted material is shown to the writers who didn't make it.

    beerfagjoy, I am not a BBC employee, I'm a fellow writer. No avoidance tactics here, just saying how it is. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    One thing to remember about WR, it's not the only avenue where writers can send their wares.
    People who say this is the only place which will read unsolicited scripts are somewhat misinformed. There are other places out there... if you look hard enough.
    In fact, writers should be using all avenues if they want to get ahead in this biz.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Mikey. You're on your own, mate. Don't bother clapping me on the shoulder when my campaign to see the results of the competition is successful.

    Put it another way: what kind of outfit holds a literary competition and then refuses to reveal the short-listed entrants?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    It's not a competition, is it? I know stuff like 'Rapid Response' are competitions and, if you win, your script get put on the Writersroom website, but I got the idea that Script Room was a screening process for wannabee writers.

    I've sent a script in myself and if I get through to the next round, the last thing I'd want is for the script to be made public, especially in the early stages of development. I'd want it to be read by people who might actually get the thing made, not members of the public with axes to grind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    ex-cartoonist. I meant, in the sense of 'compete.' And you better believe we're competing.

    Tell you what, if I get a script short-listed, you can have a look at an extract because I want as wide an audience as possible. I'm not picky, here's as good a place as anywhere else to post it and I'm not precious about what I write, I can always come up with something else.

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    Comment number 40.

    I don't see it as competing. I see it as match-making. Producers want to make certain kinds of stories and they're looking for writers who have similar outlooks and passions.

    My experience is that the ability to write is pretty far down the totem pole compared to 'getting' what the producer wants. Writing can always be rewritten and improved, but being on the wavelength of the client is either there or not. I've been commissioned to write text that then had to be translated into Dutch. Logically, my client should have hired a Dutch writer (plenty of them in Holland!), but because I knew him personally and 'got' what he was looking for, he preferred to hire me and have the work translated than to go taking a chance on a writer he didn't know.


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