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Introducing the Northern Voices Writers

BBC Writersroom

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We are delighted to announce the writers for our Northern Voices development group for 2018/19.

Northern Voices is a scheme for exciting diverse writing talent based in the North of England. The group is made up of ten writers, who are halfway through a 12 month development programme, looking to expand their writing skills and break into writing for broadcast.

These are writers we have been identified through BBC Writersroom schemes and open submission opportunities, talent scouting and by recommendations through our partnerships with new writing groups and theatres in the North of England.

Over the course of a year we work with and support these ten writers, who participate in workshops and training on writing for radio, television, film and digital platforms. Monthly sessions are led by industry professionals from across the broadcast landscape and involve a mix of masterclasses, practical writing and pitching workshops, networking opportunities and the chance to discuss and share work. They also work on a spec' script and receive script-editing support.

Some members of the group have already had short drama scripts developed and produced to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Verb as part of a joint initiative with BBC Writersroom.

We’re excited to work with these writers and help them gain further BBC broadcast commissions.

Meet the Northern Voices 2018/19 below:

BBC Writersroom Northern Voices 2018/19. Aina Khan, Georgia Affonso, Guleraana Mir, Mandip Singh Desi, Zodwa Nyoni, Steven Routledge, Tony Schumacher, Allison Davies, Sharma Walfall, Matthew Ingram

Aina J Khan

Aina J Khan is a journalist who has written for Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, VICE, The Independent, and Middle East Eye. She has worked in broadcast with ITV News and on numerous documentaries examining topical social issues with ITN Productions, Channel 4, BBC Three. Over the last three years, she has worked with Southbank Centre, the UK’s largest arts centre, on the Women of the World (WOW) Bradford festival, which celebrates women and young girls and takes a frank look at the obstacles they face. Earlier this year, she wrote her first play on a British-Pakistani teenager’s love for Michael Jackson’s music which made its debut at the Bradford Literature Festival.

Georgia Affonso

Georgia Affonso is a script writer and theatre maker who specialises in comedy and storytelling. Georgia was the first Associate Young Writer for Northern Broadsides and wrote 'From the Ashes' a project linking BTEC students from Calderdale College to Northern Broadsides' production of Hard Times.

In 2017 Georgia wrote ‘Hornsea’ for Here and Now, a commission for Lit UP as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 in collaboration with playwright John Godber and two young playwrights which toured libraries and arts centres in the East Riding.

In 2016, Georgia was selected for The Writing Squad, a programme supporting young writers based in the North of England.

Georgia is co-manager of No Door Theatre, a female-focused theatre company that performs ‘pay-what-you-feel’ productions and scratch theatre nights in fringe venues. No Door Theatre produced Georgia’s first play ‘forgive-me-not’ at Zifferblat Edge St, in December 2016.

She frequently collaborates with composer Sophie Sully. Recently they have produced 'Three poems by an Angry Bird' for Collective31, 'Salt Fiend' a spoken-word piece for No Dice Collective, ‘Stick-Stock-Stone Dead’ for Manchester University Music Society’s Estival and ‘Dora’ produced by Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera.

Georgia graduated from the Music and Drama undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester in 2016.

Guleraana Mir

Guleraana is a writer, theatre practitioner and one half of The Thelmas, a female-led theatre company devoted to empowering women to redress the equality imbalance in the arts. She is passionate about creating diverse stories that are rooted in our modern society and using her voice to explore what makes us human.

Her debut play Coconut premiered at Ovalhouse, London in April followed by a national tour. It earned her an OFFIE nomination for most promising playwright. She regularly writes for community and youth groups and has recently worked with organisations such as AGE UK Westminster, Unicorn Theatre, Rightful Place Theatre and Peer Productions.

Mandip Singh Desi

Mandip Singh Dhesi is a freelance screenwriter from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. He holds a B.A in Art History and Religious Studies and an M.A in International Development and Education from the University of Leeds.

He spent a year teaching English in China after completing his TEFL qualification and also spent time in India where he completed a certificate in Film-making from the Institute of Moving Images (IMI) after which he wrote, produced and directed three short films.

Mandip has travelled the world twice and lived on three continents. He is a lover of the arts, thrives on new challenges and has a taste for adventure.

He has been screenwriting for just over twelve months and was this year longlisted by the BBC Writersroom for the Kudos North Writers’ Award and made the Second round at both the Nicholl and Austin Screenwriting Competitions. Mandip has also reached the shortlist for the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award for BBC Radio Drama run in partnership with BBC Writersroom.

Zodwa Nyoni

Zodwa is a playwright and poet. She was the 2014 Writer-in-Residence at the Leeds Playhouse via the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme. She has previously been Apprentice Poet-in-Residence at Ilkely Literature Festival (2013) and BBC Radio Leeds (2006).

Plays include: ODE TO LEEDS (West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2017), WEATHERED ESTATES (Hull 2017 City of Culture / Roaring Girls ,2017) and BOI BOI IS DEAD (Co-production between West Yorkshire Playhouse, Tiata Fahodzi & Watford Palace Theatre, 2015). She was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2015. Radio credits include: SONNETS IN THE CITY: LOVE AGAIN (BBC Radio 3, 2016). Her work is published by Bloomsbury.

Zodwa is currently working on her Radio 3 Drama, ‘A Khosian Woman’ which will be recorded on location at Summerhall during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Steven Routledge

I am a fifty year old writer for life, having written anything and everything since I was old enough to hold a pen. I am married with two teenage daughters and live in Newcastle upon Tyne. My day job is a senior Pharmacy manager in the largest mental health NHS Trust in the country.

I have always written in any genre, and any time period, and I love to learn new things and discover new ways of telling stories. I have written dozens of short stories, novels, stage plays and screenplays, latterly concentrating on screenplays as my medium of choice.

I have had my screenplays longlisted by BBC Writersroom many times, and made it to the interview stage for Drama Room 2018, which led to me being part of Northern Voices. I have also been shortlisted for the 2016 North Tyneside Library’s Short Story competition.

Tony Schumacher

Tony Schumacher had one dream when he was a kid, and that was to be a writer. Instead of becoming a writer he bombed out of school aged 16 with no qualifications and a sigh of relief. He worked his way around the world as a roofer, a jeweller, a bouncer, a barman, a binman, and on board cruise ships selling underpants, before eventually returning to Liverpool to become a response policeman dealing with 999 jobs morning, noon and nights.

Eleven years later, after a breakdown and a period of homelessness, he found himself driving a taxi around the night-time streets of Liverpool. That was when he remembered his dream and finally started to write.

His first three novels have since been published by HarperCollins in the USA, and since then he has been mentored by Jimmy McGovern as part of the ScreenSkills High End TV Writers Bursary Scheme (2018) and been invited to join the BBC Writersroom Northern Voices Scheme. He has recently been commissioned by LA Productions to write Episode 3 of Clink, a new Female Prison Drama for Channel 5.

Allison Davies

Allison is a writer from north East England.

She has published short stories and poetry in a number of lit zines. Her work for theatre has been presented at a variety of venues including Northern Stage, ARC Stockton, Live Theatre, CAST, Camden People's Theatre, Alphabetti Theatre and in Prague.

In 2011 Allison was listed for the Alfred Bradley award and in 2012 her screenplay ‘Swimming Lessons’ was shortlisted for BBC Drama Room. Her first play ‘Weather to Fly’ was produced in 2013. Allison has recently had her short radio drama, ‘Hagstones’ broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb (Listen Now at 31'36 into the programme).

She is currently working on The Devil Danced in Our Eyes, a collaboration for theatre with writer/performer JonLuke McKie, a radio drama, and has recently been given a place on the BFI Northern Exposure Short Film Lab where she will be getting her first film off the ground.

Sharma Walfall

Sharma was born and raised in Manchester and graduated from Salford University with a BA in Media and Performance. In 2015 she won the inaugural Channel 4 & Northumbria University Northern Writers Award. Subsequently receiving a placement with Lime Pictures where she wrote her first televised credit – an episode of HOLLYOAKS which aired in January last year.

Since then Sharma has been developing her original series ideas including OUT OF BOUNDS which was awarded a development commission with TriForce Creative Network Writer’s Incubator and was subsequently read as part of Sky’s popular industry table reads.

Sharma has made it to the final stage of Original Voices Emmerdale and will start a seven week placement in the story office in late October this year. She has recently been selected to be mentored by Jack Thorne as part of the Screenskills and Dancing Ledge scheme, where she will receive a development bursary to work on one of her other original serial drama ideas. She is also a finalist for the ITV and Red Planet Pictures Prize. Sharma’s writing is tender, she writes young voices with aplomb and is exceptionally deft at crafting ensemble multi-stranded drama. Sharma is represented by David Kayser at Casarotto & Ramsay Associates.

Matthew Ingram

Matthew is a Welsh-born, Northern-adopted writer who writes principally for theatre. He has been developed by Sherman Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and The Writing Squad, is currently working on projects independently and with Northern Broadsides. Matthew was shortlisted for the 2018 BBC Writersroom Drama Room.

Northern Voices is his first venture into writing for broadcast media and he has already had his short radio drama, ‘Personal Space’ developed and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. Listen Now (at 19'00" into the programme)

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