General Secretary: Bernie Corbett
Deputy General Secretary: Anne Hogben
Assistant General Secretary: Ellie Peers
Membership Administrator: Kate Glasspool
Contact: c/o the Guild office
President: Olivia Hetreed
Chair: Roger Williams
Deputy Chair: Ming Ho
Deputy Chair: Anthony Pickthall
Treasurer: Andrew S. Walsh
Books: James Skivington
Children’s: Emma Reeves
Film: Andrea Gibb and Line Langebek
Radio: Katharine Way
Televison: Bill Armstrong
Theatre: Nick Wood
East Midlands: Richard Pinner
London & South East: Piers Beckley
North-West (Merseyside): Karen Brown
North-West (Manchester): VACANCY
Scotland: Julie Ann Thomason
South-West (Bristol & Bath): Jayne Kirkham
South-West (Cornwall & Devon): Marie Macneill
Wales: Manon Eames
West Midlands: Tim Stimpson
Yorkshire and North East: Lisa Holdsworth
Editorial and Communications Committee
Chair: Darren Rapier
Chair: Andrew S. Walsh
The Writers' Guild Executive Council 2013
The EC in their own words – why they do what they do
Bill Armstrong – Chair of the TV Committee
Shortly after joining the Guild I worked for a TV company whose treatment of writers broke every rule in the book. When things came to a head the Guild was there to offer me legal advice and support. Without the Guild I would have been lost. The commitment, energy and calm efficiency of Guild members who work tirelessly for the good of their fellow writers never ceases to amaze me. Watching Bernie Corbett and the TV Committee negotiate with the various television companies, I’ve been impressed by the powerful difference the Guild makes to television writers’ lives. Without our stories, there would be no TV drama or comedy. Yet writers are amongst the most isolated and vulnerable of workers; on our own we have little power or leverage. Working together in the Guild is the only way to safeguard our interests and improve our working conditions. In such austere times a union like the Guild that punches so very far above its weight is worth every penny of our subscriptions – and more!
Piers Beckley – London and South East Representative
I joined the Guild as a means to avoid hard work. There are things that need to be done, but that aren't necessarily best done by me. Checking contracts. Enforcing missed payments. Lobbying parliament on behalf of writers. Sorting out a very decent pension, and making sure that employers pay into it. Negotiating minimum rates with television and film and theatre producers. Making sure that there's a welfare safety net for writers who have fallen on hard times. And while I need all of these things to be done, I selfishly would rather have them done by people who are better at it than I would be, and keep that time, effort, and money for myself. The Guild is a massive aid and resource for writers in good times and bad. Unfortunately for me, it's proved so helpful that I felt that I had to pay something back – which is why I ended up joining the Executive Council. Oops.The Guild does a tremendous job across the country working for writers at all stages of their careers, and I'm proud to be a small part of that.
Karen Brown – North West (Merseyside) Representative
I find these bios harder to write than a film script. How about - I've written quite a few episodes of TV soap, several plays for radio, (8 I think but that's not important) an award winning stageplay and several pieces of authored TV drama. Why join the Guild? Why join the Guild’s EC? Well, How about - I've written quite a few episodes of TV soap, several plays for radio and so forth. The Guild is here to protect professional writers and a professional writer is what I am.
Manon Eames – Welsh Representative
Having been a member of Equity for many years, when I started to write professionally, about twenty years ago, I was glad to find that there was also a writers’ union which I could join, and which would not only represent my interests, but could offer help and support to me with negotiations over rights and contracts etc. Since becoming a member, I have had the need to call on the Guild for advice on numerous occasions, and have always had an accurate, helpful and prompt response. These are obviously particularly difficult and challenging times for the creative industries, making the amazing work achieved by the Guild even more important. I am therefore very glad to have recently become Chair of the Welsh Committee, and it is a privilege to be a member an organisation with such integrity and purpose, and which works so hard, across many media and platforms, to protect writers from unfairness and exploitation.
Andrea Gibb – Co-Chair of the Film Commitee
I joined the Guild when I was approached by the Film Committee to ask if they could put one of my screenplays forward for a European screenwriting festival. (Not a bad recruiting tactic.) Attending that festival and meeting other British and European Guild members was a revelation. Here were other people who understood the problems and issues I faced, and were also prepared to do something about them. I was excited by the possibilities of being part of it so I joined the Guild and became a member of the film committee. I’m now joint-chair with Line Langebek.
There’s a lot of work to be done in improving the status and rights of screenwriters in the film industry but the film committee is making good progress in tackling some of the more pressing issues. We’re pushing for new contract negotiations with PACT, as well as forming productive alliances with our director and producer colleagues. Our Guidelines for screenwriters is full of excellent advice and information, and something I wish I’d had access to when I was starting out.
I’ve been very involved with the commissioning of our report into the visibility of screenwriters at film festivals and went to the second Conference of World Screenwriters in Barcelona to launch it. It was wonderful to see our Guild in action in this context and to see first hand its standing among the other Guilds. That they operate so brilliantly on stretched resources makes it even more impressive.
Olivia Hetreed – President
I joined the Guild for purely selfish reasons. I wanted a WGA screening of my debut feature, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and had to be a WGGB member to get one. But within days of being accepted into the Guild I found myself tiptoeing nervously into my first Film Committee meeting. I was intrigued and impressed by the hard work put in by the volunteer committee on all sorts of tricky issues for writers, which I had thought had to be borne or struggled against alone.
Since then the committee has produced Guidelines for screenwriters, revised Credit Arbitration, organised a multitude of talks and networking events for screenwriters, producers and directors. We have been able to recognise the talent of newer writers with our First Feature Award and helped out with sadly too many contract tangles. In the last year we have spearheaded joint work with directors and producers on the Film Policy Review and produced a comprehensive survey of the relationship between screenwriters and film festivals, Written into the Picture.
Ming Ho – Deputy Chair
As a series television writer, I joined for the pension scheme (still a good deal – up to 8% of your fees in employer contributions). It’s lonely at home with your laptop, and I found it was good to meet other writers at the AGM and other Guild events; I realised I wasn’t on my own. The issues that troubled me in my daily working life turned out to be shared by many – but few felt confident to speak up individually. I joined the TV Committee to see what we could do together, and became involved in revising the Guild’s Television Guidelines (due for another refresher!) and on the BBC Forum, helping to negotiate the recently signed new writers’ agreements. These days we can exchange views more easily and instantly via social media – but we still need the collective face of the Guild to represent ourselves effectively as a professional force to be reckoned with. If you’ve got something to say that you think is not being heard, come and say it through us!
Lisa Holdsworth – Yorkshire and North East Representative
I joined the Guild when I became a regular writer on a soap opera. I was encouraged by my colleagues who recognised that despite having one of the more secure TV writing jobs (relatively speaking) it was still important to stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues elsewhere. Indeed, the rights that we had as soap writers were won for us by the Guild and that deserved our continuing support. Having since moved into the more treacherous areas of television, I am constantly grateful for the invisible supporting hand of the Guild and the confidence that my membership gives me to stand up for myself. I joined the TV Committee in 2013 and I am more than proud to represent my beloved Yorkshire.
Jayne Kirkham – South West (Cornwall and Bath) Representative
I joined the Guild when my career stalled and an agent dumped me. Like a big baby, I wanted comfort and protection and the lovely easily digestible milk of contract vetting and advice. And I got those things. And more besides: for through involvement with the Guild, benefiting from its campaigns, advice and fellowship, the big baby has grown; developing her business skills and confidence so she’s more than capable of dealing with the meatier aspects of being a writer. And can spit gristle a considerable distance.
I thank the Guild for supporting my efforts campaigning for children’s arts and media: we have put these things on the political agenda, helped bring in the tax break for animation, helped stop the introduction of the English Baccalaureate; all of which will benefit writers. While I will continue to badger Westminster on behalf of children’s media and arts, I am excited to be moving into new pasture, both personally, creatively and for the Guild. The baby has not only learned to walk but has gone west. The Bath and Bristol region is incredibly creative: theatre, TV, animation companies… novelists, poets, artists, jugglers, wizards… But that doesn’t mean it’s without problems. I look forward to getting to know the Guild members and working with them on the issues that concern them.
Line Langebek – Co-Chair of the Film Committee
I joined the Guild as soon as I moved to London. Coming from another country originally I'd been very aware of and used the Danish Writer's Guild and I wanted to join the WGGB too. Initially I signed up more as a formality, I think. It wasn't until I went to one of the many events arranged by the WGGB that I realised what the Guild really was: a gathering of brilliant, inspiring writers, many of whom were campaigning tirelessly to ensure better working conditions for people like me. Attending these events provided me with a real chance to talk to writers who were more experienced than I was back then - and who, crucially at the time, were also more familiar with the English writers' landscape than I was.
A few years later I was persuaded to join the Film Committee where I began to understand not only how hard-working many of the voluntary committee members were but also learned of the important issues they tackled. Since then we have produced a Best Practice Guidelines for film writers, worked to raise awareness of writers' presence at film festivals and so on, and there's more work to do... Just as the UK has long since become home, so has the Guild - writing can be a lonely profession, despite today's social media networks, and standing together with other writers feels like a no brainer now. And everything else aside, the Guild also offers a great network and a chance to meet and talk to inspiring colleagues working across many different platforms.
Marie MacNeill – Cornwall and Devon Representative
I first joined the EC nearly a decade ago. I remain hugely impressed by how much a small staff can achieve with the support of the voluntary committees and members. It is our union and it’s important that we continue to feel able to approach officers with work related problems. All too often writers – who are at the beginning of the creative chain – can be marginalised or simply forgotten. I hope that my contribution helps the Guild to remind members that we are here to help and support and to make sure that writers remain in the creative room. I currently represent Cornwall and Devon.
Antony Pickthall - Deputy Chair
First I was a member of Theatre Writers Union (TWU) which I joined after my first play was given a professional workshop by North West Playwrights and went on to Chair the Manchester branch. When TWU merged with the Guild I stepped back and got on with my writing and being a member. The Guild has made great strides, particularly under Bernie Corbett's leadership and when I moved to Liverpool I wanted to be part of making the work of the Guild even stronger. It has helped me on many occasions and every time I meet a writer who is not a member I think they're missing out and find I can't help pointing this out. I have helped establish the Merseyside branch and have been representing the Branch at the EC.
Richard Pinner – East Midlands Representative
I have been a professional dramatist and lecturer in playwriting for the last 30 years. I have written extensively for the theatre and received a British Theatre Award for Rosie Blitz and a London Weekend Television's Plays On Stage award for The Peace Of Pocahontas. More recently, my Penny Dreadful was produced at Derby Theatre in 2011 and is due to go on a national tour in the Autumn of 2014. I have directed for theatre and been a BBC radio producer. From 1991-2003 I was Senior Tutor on the MA in Playwriting at the University of Birmingham and toured the US, Australia, Caribbean, Far East, Brazil and Europe as visiting playwright & workshop leader. I subsequently set up a course in Stage Writing on the Theatre Arts programme at Derby University.
Emma Reeves – Chair of the Children's Committee
I write for TV radio and stage. TV credits include The Dumping Ground, Tracy Beaker Returns, Young Dracula, Sadie J, The Story of Tracy Beaker, Sadie Jones, Belonging, The Murder of Princess Diana (Lifetime Channel), Half Moon Investigations, Spirit Warriors and Doctors. Stage adaptations include Carrie's War, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and Cool Hand Luke. In 2011 I was nominated by the Writers' Guild for Best Children's Television Script for Tracy Beaker Returns: What You Don’t Know. In 2012 Tracy Beaker Returns won the Royal Television Society award for Best Children's Drama with Emma’ nominated script Money. I joined the EC and the TV Committee in order to help protect the interests of children's writers.
James Skivington – Chair of the Books Committee
I published my first book nearly 25 years ago. Having been turned down by at least two dozen publishers, I was just happy to get accepted at last and never gave much thought to the amount of the advance and the royalties. One lives and learns. Later, having been commissioned by Thames TV to write a sitcom series, I acquired an agent, who subsequently found me no work whatsoever over a lengthy period of time. Apparently it was all my fault. We parted company and I joined the Guild, not only for the support it could offer but also to meet like-minded people.
I was flattered to be asked to join the Books Committee and subsequently carried out what I hope was good work on various projects, including the annual Book Award. Now, as Chair of the Books Committee and member of the EC, I would like to make a further contribution. The Guild does make a difference in all sorts of ways. One small example: In a recent breach of copyright claim I made against a major publisher, the Guild was instrumental in obtaining for me a sum almost ten times the publisher's original, niggardly offer. QED.
Julie Ann Thomason – Scottish Representative
I joined the guild in 1996 after my first textbook was published. On returning to the UK I contacted the Guild office to offer to help with the Scottish Branch. In 2010 I became Scottish rep. My aim has been to try and vitalise the branch and have held branch meetings in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, organised events such as meeting agents, TV people, Creative Scotland and BBC and invited guild EC members to come and meet us. I represent the Guild at the Literature Forum for Scotland and at SFEU. In August this year the Guild I arranged for the Guild to have a stall at the Edinburgh Fringe Fair manned by myself and a couple of volunteers and hope this now becomes a yearly event. I feel strongly about Intellectual property rights that awareness has to be constantly maintained of the constant threat to our livelihood and that writers need a strong voice and the best way is by working together.
Andrew S. Walsh – Treasurer
After the Guild had helped me resolve a contract/non-payment problem, I turned up at an AGM to learn more about the organisation I’d joined. It was a real eye-opener to discover that the Guild’s officers and committees were all volunteers and that I, as a relatively new member, could get involved too. Since then I’ve served as chair of the Children’s Committee, formed the Videogames Committee, joined the EC, spent 3 years as Deputy Chair and am now Treasurer. Through this journey I have continued to be amazed at what the Guild manages to achieve and at the huge amounts of work that some writers are prepared to do in their own time to ensure that writers’ rights are preserved. It’s a difficult working world out there and standing together is the best way to not only survive it, but to make it better.
Roger Williams – Guild Chair
I've been a member of the Guild since I started writing professionally. An established member - who understood how important recruiting new members is to the Guild - spoke to me about the Guild after a performance of one of the plays and signed me up. I was encouraged to attend meetings in Cardiff and learnt tonnes about the industry from writers I wouldn't have met unless I'd joined. A few years later I became the Wales Representative on the Executive Committee and started taking part in negotiations. I organised events in Cardiff and represented the Guild at the Federation of Entertainment Unions (Wales). Before becoming Chair of the Guild in 2012, I was a Deputy Chair for three years and Chair of the Editorial and Communications Committee. I realised many years ago that writers were the only group that could - and should - represent their interests effectively. We can best do this by working together. The Guild is a small but influential organisation. By encouraging more members to become involved in the Guild's day to day work we can only be stronger.
Katherine Way – Chair of the Radio Committee
I joined the Guild as soon as I was eligible, because I've always been a member of whatever union was available. I remember going to my first AGM and realising that I was in a room with my heroes. There was the man who'd adapted Nicholas Nickleby for the RSC and written a play that made me realise "modern" drama didn't stop with Oscar Wilde. There was the woman who'd written the children's stories I devoured, and the other woman whose adaptation of a novel for BBC2's Classic Serial was so scary it had given me nightmares (in a good way). And there was the man who'd sexed up Jane Austen. There were the people who'd written The Wednesday Play and Play for Today. Thanks to the battles they fought, and their talent, bloody-mindedness and their extreme cleverness (to quote Douglas Adams), I can write about such once-forbidden subjects as sex outside marriage, gayness and unplanned pregnancy - and where would today's soaps be without those things? It's simple - being part of the Guild means hanging out with all the cool writers. And it means I get to say Thank you. Thanks for writing the TV show or play or novel (or episode of Dr Who) that enthralled me, and inspired me, and made we want to be a writer. (And the Karaoke nights are great. No. Kidding.)
Nick Wood – Chair of the Theatre Committee
Years ago I sat in the Crucible listening to David Edgar telling us how important it was that all playwrights joined the Theatre Writers’ Union and I knew that as soon as I could that was what I was going to do. By the time I got the necessary qualification – three professional productions – the TWU had become the Writers’ Guild. I was proud to be accepted. The first time I sent in a notice for Members’ Upcoming Work in the bulletin I saw Pinter’s name above mine. An eminent and respected playwright and a novice, miles apart but both part of the union. Since then the Guild has helped me with a number of problems and I’ve seen it do the same for others many times. Being a member of the Guild is a part of my identity as a writer. It gives me a sense that I belong to my craft, makes me feel less isolated in what can feel a lonely profession at times. At this moment we are all especially beleaguered, but in the creative sector, whatever our field, at least we have the Guild and I believe we are all going to need it more and more.