The BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship (NBF) is a flagship initiative run by Radio Drama as a key part of the department's (((soundstart))) actor talent events. Its aim is to broaden the range of actors available to Radio Drama producers across the UK by encouraging applicants from non-traditional training backgrounds. To that end, it complements the Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award scheme that we've been running with the accredited UK-wide Drama Colleges for more than fifty years. Two NBF winners each receive fixed-term bursary contracts with the Radio Drama Company, and up to four runners-up receive single freelance engagements in Radio Drama productions.
The 2003 NBF event was launched with open auditions held across England and attended by over 600 actors, a large proportion of whom came from Black and other ethnic communities. All finalists' auditions were recorded and circulated, for casting purposes, among the Radio Drama production teams. Some finalists went on to play parts in Radio Drama's soaps WESTWAY (for World Service Drama which folded in 2005), THE ARCHERS (for Radio 4) and SILVER STREET (for the Asian Network). In 2004, we extended our workshops to Scotland and Wales, and fed the best actors from those sessions - together with outstanding candidates from the previous year's Final heats - into semi-Finals held in Manchester and London. From these twelve finalists were invited to the key London event in early May. In 2005, the NBF was run as a collaboration with a network of theatre companies across Britain who helped our search for talent new to radio. Over the years we have been delighted to work with a wide range of theatre groups and companies including Birmingham Repertory Theatre; Dundee Rep; New Vic Stoke; Tamasha; Kabosh, Northern Ireland; Graeae Theatre Company; Yellow Earth Theatre; Theatre Royal Stratford East; The Oval House, London; West Yorkshire Playhouse; Nottingham Playhouse; Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; Contact Theatre, Manchester; Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Menagerie Theatre Company, Cambridge; Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.
BBC NBF 2013 will be managed from our Radio Drama Unit in London under the chair of Marc Beeby. Semi-Finals will take place in the BBC's London studios at Broadcasting House Tuesday 19th February 2013, and the Finals will run in Broadcasting House, London on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th March 2013.
We are delighted that in 2013, our partnership with a selection of UK-wide theatres will this year include workshops at:
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
The Sherman Theatre Cardiff
Talawa Theatre Company, London
Tamasha Theatre Company, London
Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
Theatre Royal Stratford East