The Script Room is a new, improved way of accepting scripts, assessing scripts, and developing the very best writers that come to writersroom.
The kinds of scripts we accept in the Script Room hasn't fundamentally changed; the kinds of writers we accept them from also hasn't changed; but when we accept them and how we process them has now been improved.
Why have you made these improvements?
The role of writersroom is to provide an open door at the BBC to new talent - but also to support programme-making departments of the BBC by focusing our attention and resources on the small proportion of writers that truly excite us. The outgoing unsolicited system was big and costly, and it was not always easy to capitalise on the talent we found - whereas the one-off talent searches and competitions we run have a direct and tangible sense of results. The new Script Room system will run along similar lines to talent searches and competitions, and will be more efficient and more focused on identifying a group of talented writers each time.
What has changed?
Rather than accept scripts year-round in a rolling system, we will make three distinct calls each year - in the New Year, the Spring and the Autumn. Each call will have a deadline, and the scripts received will be logged, assessed intensively by our script readers and writersroom team, and a shortlist drawn up. We will then run events for this shortlist of writers, offering masterclasses, workshops and an opportunity for us to meet them.
We will only decide which writers will subsequently receive scripts reports and feedback once the shortlist has been agreed. The majority of reports/feedback will go to promising writers whose work has progressed in the system, but who ultimately did not reach the final shortlist, with the aim of helping their development as writers.
Every submission must include a downloadable Cover Sheet which includes information from the writer and a tick-box check-list that will verify that the script is eligible to be submitted.
We will only acknowledge receipt of scripts once all submissions have been logged following the deadline, and acknowledgements will be sent by email rather than by post - unless you do not have an email address, which may be indicated on the Cover Sheet.
All contact with writers will be by email rather than by post - unless you do not have an email address, which may be indicated on the Cover Sheet.
All scripts from writers who are not being developed further will be recycled (unless they include an SASE for its return).
You must not resubmit a script you have previously sent to us - whether that was as unsolicited or to a competition or talent search. We will flag up forthcoming competitions and talent searches as far as possible in advance in order that writers can decide when to submit any given script they might have.
Can I send in more than one script?
We only accept one script at a time from writers.
Can I send in a sample or extract?
We don't accept part of a script; finishing your work is a crucial skill, and we want to see your idea from start to finish.
I don't have an original script - can I send something else?
We only deal with completed, original drama and comedy scripts at BBC writersroom, and do not accept ideas, short stories, short films, novels, sketches, adaptations or poetry. We also do not accept proposals, pitches, or treatments by themselves - we need to see fully-scripted drama and narrative comedy in order to assess writer talent.
Can I submit a DVD, VHS, CD, audio tape or any other video or audio recording of my work?
No, we only consider scripts.
Can I submit an idea for a programme?
We only consider full scripts for drama and comedy, and cannot accept ideas or pitches for programmes by themselves. Ideas are never in short supply – what we are looking for are writers who can deliver a completed script. For information on submitting ideas to the BBC, please visit the commissioning website.
I've redrafted my script since I sent it - can I resubmit a replacement draft?
No. Once a script has been submitted it cannot be replaced with another draft.
I've rewritten my script, can I send it back to you?
We do not accept resubmissions of work that has already been assessed, even following a rewrite – so make sure it is as good as you can make it before sending it in, even if that means waiting until a later Script Room window. We also don't enter into correspondence with writers unless they are being developed further. In the case of a series or serial, if one episode is rejected we will not consider another episode – your next script must be an entirely new piece of work.
Do you accept scripts from overseas?
No, though we will accept scripts from non-British writers who are resident in the UK or Eire.
Can I email my script to writersroom?
No, we don't accept scripts sent in via email or fax unless we explicitly specify it. Unless otherwise stated, please send a hard copy of your script through the post.
Can I send an adaptation?
No. We need to see an original script as a calling card of a writer's talent and potential. We do not accept straight adaptations of existing work.
Will you adapt my novel into a screenplay?
No, we only accept completed original scripts as our primary remit is to find and champion scriptwriting talent.
I have written a series/serial - can I send it all to writersroom?
We only need to see the script of the first completed pilot episode, together with a brief outline of future episodes you have planned – don't send in the whole series.
I've sent my script to another BBC producer, can I send it to you too?
It is unwise to submit scripts to more than one BBC department or producer at any one time, since it can mean duplicating work across departments, and can lead to unnecessary complications later.
Can I send in an episode written for Doctors, EastEnders, or other shows?
We don't accept 'spec' episodes for existing shows – we are looking for talented writers on the basis of original work that shows a clear ability to create unique worlds, characters and stories. Only send in an original script as a calling card of your ability.
Can I submit sketches or sketch shows?
No, we do not accept sketches or sketch shows. BBC sketch shows on television currently don't accept unsolicited material, though there are occasional opportunities for sketch writing on some radio shows (which is where many of today's top comedy writers started out). More information is available by going to the Opportunities page and by reading the Radio Entertainment guidelines.
Can I send in a short?
We accept scripts that are at least 30 minutes long, which is a fair length of time to assess a writer's work – it's extremely hard to judge a writer's abilities with a view to BBC broadcast slots if their work is shorter than this.
Will you read my short story?
No, we cannot accept prose submissions at writersroom - we only consider fully scripted comedy and drama.
My script isn't formatted correctly, can I still send it in?
We don't penalise writers for scripts that aren't perfectly formatted, but presenting your work appropriately suggests a professional approach and an understanding of the medium and format for which you are writing. You can read formatted TV and radio scripts previously produced by the BBC. We do not accept handwritten work. Please only type or print on one side of the paper. Microsoft provide a screenplay template for Word. There are also various dedicated scriptwriting programmes available including Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, and CeltX, which is available for free.
Can I submit my stage play?
We consider all submissions primarily as evidence of writer talent, and only secondarily as projects in their own right. Our readers are experienced in reading for theatre as well as radio, television, and film, and we are happy to receive stage plays as an example of your work. We won't consider adapting a stage play at your own request – if you would like it to be considered for broadcast, you should submit an appropriately adapted script.
What do I have to include with my script?
You must include a Script Room Cover Sheet. As a general rule, information about the characters and story should come across in the script itself – if you feel the need to include additional information, then perhaps you ought to look again at how well your script is working. If you are submitting an episode from a series/serial, then you should include a brief outline of further episodes. It is not essential, but you can also send in a brief writing CV to give an idea of any experience you might have.
I'm sending the only copy of my script - will you return it?
Don't send us the only copy that you have – make sure that you keep the original/a copy for yourself.
In line with the BBC's Environment Policy, we will recycle all scripts we receive unless an SASE is enclosed for it's return - if you are doing so, make sure the envelope is big enough to enclose your script.
How long should my script last? Does one page equal one minute?
As long as your script is equivalent to at least 30 minutes in length, we will consider it. The minute-to-a-page measure of classic screenplay format is a useful rule-of-thumb, but isn't a cast iron formula as it ultimately depends on the style of the piece. Generally speaking a half-hour sitcom would come in between 30 and 35 pages, an hour-long drama between 50-70 pages, and a feature film between 70-120 pages. However, classic sitcom formatting is a little different from classic screenplay formatting, and you need to judge the playing length for yourself. Radio scripts vary so much in pacing and format that there's no accurate way to tell short of reading the piece aloud. The best way to judge the length of your script is to time yourself reading it, allowing extra space for action. A group reading or performance is even more useful since each reader, like an actor, may deliver their lines of dialogue at different paces.
Does it help if I have an agent?
This has no bearing on your submission. We encourage work from writers who don't have an agent as well as from those who do, and we assess each script on its own merits.
Why have I not received any feedback on my script?
We assess at least the first ten pages of all eligible scripts. Only a limited proportion of scripts which progress beyond the first sift/assessment stage will receive feedback. We receive thousands of scripts every year, and we do not have the resources to fully read and feed back on anything more than a small proportion of them.
How can I safeguard/copyright my script?
The copyright of all scripts sent to the BBC rests with the writer - nothing formal need be done to copyright work before you send it in to us. Writers are often anxious that their work may be stolen or plagiarised. Similarities in writers' ideas, material, and scripts occur surprisingly often – in a recent sitcom competition, four scripts from different writers used the same idea, situation and title. BBC writersroom isn't looking for ideas for production in the first instance – we are primarily looking for scripts that show a real talent and potential in the writer. For further information on legally protecting your work, you may wish to contact the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.
How the Script Room works
Before you send your script
Send us your script
Find out what we look for
Guidelines and example scripts
Mackenzie Crook on his writing and performing career and creating BBC Four's Detectorists.
November 19, 2014
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