Script Room: the final selection

Monday 1 October 2012, 18:03

Paul Ashton Paul Ashton

... It all started earlier this year with a new website, and an opportunity to breathe fresh air into a script system that had opened its doors to 50,000 scripts over more than 10 years. What we'd noticed is that the way we run our one-off talent searches seems to make everyone (us, the writers, BBC departments) happier, more excited, more successful than an interminably rolling 'unsolicited' system. (For evidence of this, see the CBBC show Wolfblood by Debbie Moon, which came directly out of our last CBBC open opportunity and is currently wowing younger audiences.) We don't see scripts as unsolicited - we see them as wanted, called for, welcomed. Only a tiny proportion progress all the way through any opportunity - but that doesn't mean we're not genuinely fired up about uncovering that tiny proportion as it comes through the door.

Script-Room-Session-2.jpg Script Room writers have a group chat with Hilary Salmon, Executive Producer, BBC Drama

On Tuesday, we welcomed through the doors of BBC Broadcasting House a group of 25 writers whose work had progressed through Script Room (first sift, second sift, full read, to final shortlist) and fought off competition from the other 1800 scripts submitted. They had written anything and everything from hi-concept TV Drama, to comedy-action-adventure movie, to downright strange sitcom, to intense stage play, to poignant radio drama, to boisterous children's show. The writers and the writersroom team spent time getting to know one another, dissected a current drama and sitcom we'd all watched, speed-dating (of sorts) with a range of BBC execs, producers and development people, and talking through what they want to do and how we might be able to help.

  Script-Room-Session-1.jpg Script Room writers have a group chat with David Hunter, BBC Drama Producer

Some of the writers will be recommended straight to BBC people/departments, some will come back for other tailored development sessions, some we'll read more scripts, some we'll help develop future scripts. The ball is also firmly back in their court as to how they move forward - our job will be to help and encourage them where we can.

Script-Room-Session-.jpg The Brothers Lynch - Script Room writing duo, having an interview about their experiences

In the meantime, the next Script Room doors are open and scripts are already steadily trickling through... (Or is that another flood of scripts I can see coming towards us?)

Ps. If you have a radio drama or a radio comedy, make sure you send it to the Writer's Prize rather Script Room this time round ... !


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    Comment number 1.

    Would a radio script entered for the Writer's Prize go through the same process as one submitted to the Script Room? It's very handy to know how far a submission has progressed through the evaluation process, I'd be disappointed to lose that feedback.

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    Comment number 2.

    In June time in one of your comments about those 1800 sent scripts you said this

    "As I said in the blog, we'll be coming back later with some data on what the readers generally felt were the recurring problem areas for scripts that didn't make it through."

    Perhaps I missed it, could you advise where I can read the readers "problem areas"?

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    Comment number 3.

    Anthony Atkin - the sifting process at the start will be similar in that all scripts will get a 10page look, and from there might progress to a further sift. It will be different at the other end of the process in that the Writer's Prize will be judged by Radio Commissioners.

    mhepton - i'm going to do another blog this week on the problem areas, so keep an eye out for it ...

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    Comment number 4.

    Hi guys,

    Just a quick question, I recently submitted a script to the Writers room, it's a rough adaptation of a Greek myth, I was aware of the rules in regards to adaptations, but as this was not a 'straight adaptation' I thought this might be fine, however I still haven't received a notification of my script being receivied, and I'm starting to worry it may have been discarded as an adaptation,

    All the best,

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    Comment number 5.

    'It will be different at the other end of the process in that the Writer's Prize will be judged by Radio Commissioners.'

    Well yes and no. They are the end-of-game judges all the time. Those names are so familiar to us all.

    Maybe fresh eyes could scan for fresh talent - just for an experiment? A Writer's Prize judged by Writers. Yes I know Bread and Roses went awry but that was a rather particular case. Let's have a team of stellar writers to judge the final stages and see is their selections differ in any way. For the next TV drama prize, ask Bowker, Mellor, Wainwright which scripts they'd like to be made - and not which they think commissioners would choose. It would be like having a guest editor on a mag or even on Today: zingy.

    Don't we all love a bit of zing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Paul, I would guess that I am one of the oldest people submitting in the latest window. Is my age likely to reduce the chances of my script progressing? Or will I get an equal opportunity regardless?

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    Comment number 7.

    The Writers Room f.a.q. says 30 minute episode, the T's and C's says "more than 30 pages/minutes", does this mean 29 pages which appears to read to 30 minutes for me will be rejected? Many thanks!

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    Comment number 8.

    Thomas - something like you describe is fine if it's very loosely based/inspired. We only acknowledge submissions following the deadline - anything ineligible and we'll likely contact you sooner

    Chaffinch - actually there will be two writers co-judging the Writer's Prize - tba. Russell T Davis and Abi Morgan are co-judging the Wales Award as I type ...

    Jim - we don't consider or regard age in any way so long as writers are over a basic minimum age

    Cosmic Ten - we take a sensible approach to these things - but if it looks and feels underlength then it just won't progress ...

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    Comment number 9.

    Hi Paul

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    I will be soon submitting my script to the writers room. As it is a first episode i.e. a pilot I was wondering if you had any advice on what to include/not include in the brief outline of further episodes and the series/serial as a whole.

    Many thanks.

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    Comment number 10.

    Hi, I realise once you have had a knock-back with a script to writersroom, you can't re-submit after editing. That said, (and I'm almost embarrassed to type this, because I'm pretty sure the answer is no), is it possible to enter a script that was knocked-back in the spring round into the Writer's Prize?

    Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere. Apologies for the shamelessness inherent in my question.


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    Comment number 11.

    Mr Midnight - keep it simple, try to get across the heart of the show, the genre, the feel, the world, the form/format, the hook of it for an audience, and what it is that drives it forward as a show - the series engine. keep further episode outlines/ideas simple, we mainly need to know where the show is going, where it will end up, and how it will get there dramatically.

    laurawaurakins - formally, i think, you can submit it - but you need to ask yourself (and it) what were the reasons it didn't make it through before - and remember, the initial sifting assessment stages will be much the same for the Writer's Prize as for Script Room. don't just send the same script in ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I have three episodes, is it essential to send episode 1 or can I pick a different?

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    Comment number 13.

    Craigie - if it's a drama series or serial then it needs to be the pilot episode - if it's a classic sitcom then it need not be the 'first' episode (Fawlty Towers episodes could have transmitted in any order ...)

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    Comment number 14.

    Hi Paul, I have two different radio scripts I'm working on. I take it I can still send one in to the scriptroom?!

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    Comment number 15.

    bendler - well, my honest advice would be that unless you have plenty of time (and head space) to commit to both in the coming weeks, i would suggest concentrating on just one of them with a view to submitting to the Writer's Prize, rather than trying to finish both for the two different opportunities. Script Room will continue to reopen in other windows - The Writer's Prize won't ...

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    Comment number 16.

    I'm wanting to convert a novel I've already published into a script. Is this acceptable?

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    Comment number 17.

    Susan - you may adapt your own work so long as it's all your own original work in the end. (Though you may wish to check that this is ok from the point of view of your publisher?)

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    Comment number 18.

    Hi Paul. Yes, 100% own and original work and publisher fine with it. I'll forge on then..

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    Comment number 19.

    I submitted a script in the recent Writersroom round. It was delivered (and signed for) on 10/10/12, but I have not received confirmation of receipt from you. Should I be worried ?


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