Main content

Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award Rules & Regulations 2021


The BBC Radio Drama Company as currently operating was formed in 1939 and today comprises a small ensemble of actors who, while under contract, play as cast across a range of in-house productions. Most are projects for BBC Audio Drama and the Books Unit; but RDC actors contribute to factual, documentary and magazine type programmes across Network and World Service Radio. Given the broad range of casting needs, our aim is to run a company whose membership reflects the diversity of contemporary life in modern Britain. In recruiting graduating actors via CHBA onto the RDC, the focus remains on assessing vocal versatility, suitability of voice to text, response to redirection, and response to text where required to make own judgments.

Entry to the BBC CHBA is open to full-time Drama students from those Colleges that are either accredited by Drama UK or members of Conservatoires UK. The Bursary Awards are conferred on the basis of individual talent and ability in the art of acting for radio. We welcome involvement from all graduating students though we will not accept entries from persons under the age of 18 on 1st March 2021.


Given the current pandemic, we propose to run CHBA in 2021 in a format different from the way we have done traditionally, and this year’s event will be modified to reflect the times we’re in and the resources at our disposal.

The 2021 audition will consist of

• Stage 1 – submission of pre-recorded solos from each participant
• Stage 2 – live audition (via Zoom) of duologue and sight-reading.
• There will be no team piece this year.

CHBA 2021

In 2021, the event will be held remotely, and via a two-stage selection process. All qualifying Colleges can take part in Stage 1, but Stage 2 can only accommodate audition spaces for fourteen Colleges. Stage 1 will occur in early February via a pre-recorded submission with results communicated by Friday 12th February 2021. Stage 2 will take place remotely across a timetable that spans Monday 1st March to Thursday 4th March (noon) 2021.

1. The 2021 event is open to not more than two final year students from each participating Drama School. Colleges eligible for entry are those who are accredited members of Conservatoires UK and/or Drama UK as of 27 July 2015 or in the five years preceding that date. A complete list of eligible participating Colleges can be found below, after these rules. The schools must include regular tuition in radio acting technique as part of their curriculum. If candidates included are from overseas, they must have in place the necessary permissions to work in this country before they enter the Event. Please be aware: candidates may only enter once for BBC CHBA.

2. A minimum of two finalists will each be offered a binding five-month contract as members of the Radio Drama Company. These contracts do not allow for any period of notice during their course. Clauses within the Bursary Award contracts will make this clear - and in nominating their chosen students, Colleges must do their utmost to ensure that they are all fully aware of this condition of entry.

3. Those elected for Bursary Awards will only have the title conferred on them when they have formally signed their contract to join the Radio Drama Company.

4. The contracts are for a start date of no later than Saturday 24th July 2021

5. Up to four runners-up will each receive a commitment to be engaged as freelance artists in one of Audio Drama’s 2021/2022 projects.

6. Schools intending to take part must register with BBC Audio Drama no later than Friday January 22nd 2021. Thereafter, they must ensure that students’ names, together with other entry requirements and pre-recordings of their solo work on MP3 are received by BBC Audio Drama by Friday February 5th 2021.

7 Entrants are asked to disclose details of any and all criminal and civil actions pending against them, or served against them plus any unspent convictions and to keep the BBC informed of any changes to that disclosed up to the point the winner is announced. This information will be handled in the strictest confidence and in accordance with the BBC Privacy Policy.
8 Following standard industry practice, the BBC may undertake background checks of the shortlisted finalists. Information discovered or that may have been disclosed by the entrants themselves will inform the decision as to the selection of the finalists.

9 The BBC reserves the right to stand down, in the BBC’s sole discretion, any entrant at any stage for editorial reasons, or otherwise. Should an entrant choose not to continue, the BBC reserves the right to offer the chance to go further in the Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award to another entrant.

10 Although the BBC reserves the right to act on any information that may be disclosed or that is discovered through research, such disclosure or discovery of itself does not mean action will be taken. The BBC will consider all elements and make a decision in keeping with BBC Policies, Editorial Guidelines and to prevent or minimise any disrepute to the BBC and / to the entrants.

11 The BBC works to ensure a culture where safeguarding children, including child protection, is everybody’s business whether staff, freelancer, Talent, Supporting Artist or contractor. Although the BBC is not a statutory body, it has a duty of care for any child with whom it interacts, regardless of the nature of the interaction.

12 The BBC Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award 2021 event is not open to any employee of the BBC, close relative of a BBC employee, or an employee of a partner organisation.

13 The full list of accredited Colleges is as follows:

Arts Educational
Manchester School of Theatre, MMU
Birmingham School of Acting
Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Birmingham Conservatoire
Oxford School of Drama
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Drama Centre
Rose Bruford College
Drama Studio London
Royal Academy of Music
East 15 Acting School Royal College of Music
Guildford School of Acting
Royal Northern College of Music
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Royal Central School
Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Leeds College of Music

Privacy Notice:

The personal information that Colleges provide about their students (names, contact details, CVs, head shot photographs etc.) will be collected and held by the BBC for the sole purposes of administering the 2021 Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award. The BBC is the 'data controller’ of this personal data. We process this data on the basis of our public task to fulfil the BBC’s Mission and promote the Public Purposes set out in the BBC’s Charter. The Public Purposes include increasing audience engagement with the BBC and supporting learning for people of all ages. The personal information provided will be shared with the two external judges during the event but will not be shared with any other external third parties. Participating Colleges must ensure that their students agree to be entered and have their personal data including their CVs submitted to the BBC. For CHBA winners, information held will be deleted once contracts with the BBC Radio Drama Company have been completed (24th December 2021); in the case of runners-up, information will be deleted once a freelance engagement has been fulfilled. The BBC will keep a record of the names of applicants for the 2021 Awards for reference for future awards, but will destroy records five years from the CHBA event. For further information about how the BBC process personal information, including to find out more about rights under data protection law and how to exercise them, and also to find the contact details of the BBC’s Data Protection Officer, please see the full BBC Privacy Policy at This notice will prevail in the event there are any discrepancies between it and the Privacy Policy. If you have any questions about how the BBC processes personal data for this Award please contact Rebecca Wilmshurst, Production Executive for Audio Drama at If you contact the BBC about how it processes personal data and you are unhappy with the BBC’s response, you can raise a concern with the Information Commissioner.



Stage One will comprise solo work pre-recorded by the Colleges and submitted as MP3s to the BBC.

1. Two prepared solos

a) Each college may nominate two students to enter the event. We ask each student to prepare two solos. The maximum duration of each solo should be no more than 2 minutes, giving each student a maximum of 4 minutes’ total material. The solos should demonstrate range and versatility. It is preferable to choose pieces which don’t involve more than one character. The two pieces should be as different as possible, within the vocal age and accent range of the student concerned. Please edit your pieces carefully: it works best if the chosen speeches are not cut in the middle. None of these excerpts should be the same as the prepared duologues offered by the College candidates (see 2 below). As this is an acting award, it is not advisable to include straight readings or poems in this Stage.

b) These solos should be pre-recorded by the Colleges and emailed as MP3s to the BBC to arrive no later than Friday 5th February 2021. Details of where to send the submissions will be forwarded to the Colleges on application.

c) The BBC will upload the submitted solos to Dropbox accessed only by the Production Executive, RDC Co-ordinator and a team of two producers. The producers will listen, adjudicate and select the 14 Colleges going forward to Stage Two. These decisions will be made by Friday 12th February 2021, and communicated to the Colleges that day by Rebecca Wilmshurst, who will also offer feedback to those who are not selected.


Stage 2 of the audition process will take place via Zoom and Pre-rec in the slot allocated to the College in the 1st to 4th March 2021 timetable, and will need to be facilitated by the College.

2. Prepared duologue

a) Each duo from the fourteen colleges going forward will prepare a single duologue, in English, of their own choice. The duologue’s maximum duration should be no more than 5 minutes. This should enable participants to demonstrate their ability to interact with others.

b) After the duologue is first performed, one of the producers on the judging panel will have the opportunity to give notes and discuss the piece before recording the final take. The material ought not to be beyond the range and experience of those taking part, and should not depend on studio or play-in sound effects. We advise selection of material for this slot to focus on modern pieces as most of the work Radio Drama undertakes is new writing with a chiefly contemporary setting.

3. A short piece of prose sight-reading

We will provide a short piece of prose to each team member in good time before the audition slot. We will hear this directly after the candidates have completed their duologue.

Special commendations will be made to those performances that the judges consider to be outstanding in each of the above sections.


The panel of five judges in 2021 will be chaired by a Producer from the London BBC Audio Drama team.

By Friday 22nd January 2021 we will require:

Payment via BACS for One Hundred and Ten Pounds plus VAT(at 20%) by way of a registration fee.

Details are:
Sort Code: 30-00-02
Bank Ac No: 00218249
Notes Section: Please state – “FAO Debbie Waddell, CH 2021 Reg Fee” –
Code: AAB-8269-CARL

Other reference numbers which may be useful are:
Lloyds Swift No – LOYD 2LCTY
Allocating GL – 14212

BACS is the preferred payment option, and if this is not possible, would you please contact Clare Ewing ( as soon as possible.

If you need an invoice from us, in order to pay this registration fee and the additional VAT sum, please let us know a.s.a.p. so that we can raise the relevant paperwork.

By 5th February 2021 we will require via email (details to follow):

a) The names, addresses, telephone numbers of the nominated
students, together with a 10” x 8” headshot and CVs of each.

b) Details (play, author and character) of students’ individual choice of material.

c) One copy of the scripts of students’ individual choice of material with brief contexts where necessary.

d) One copy of the script of the duologue, which should include the cast list.
(Please provide for the judges, a short context for the chosen duologue)

e) One copy of students’ pre-recorded solos in MP3 format.

N.B. Final versions of all information required MUST be submitted no later than 5th February 2021. Failure to submit all of the above by the due dates may risk disqualification from the event.