Creativity Works!

on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 09:11. Posted in General

Screenwriters throughout Europe have joined like-minded organisations in the cultural and creative sectors to form a coalition: Creativity Works! Its objective is to kick-start an open and informed dialogue with EU policymakers about the economic and cultural contribution made by creators and the cultural and creative sectors in the digital age.

WGGB is part of this effort through its affiliation to the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe and supports the key aims of Creativity Works! including:

  • Intellectual property rights sustain not only well-known creators but also help support many less well-known artists and promote cultural diversity.
  • Freedom of expression secures a creator’s ability to produce content that challenges, informs and entertains without fear of censorship and prosecution, thereby contributing to democratic debate and society.
  • We are committed to explaining how our sectors really operate, how many lives they touch and how everyone will lose out if we are forced to create only “free” content which provides no reward and therefore no incentive to its creator.

You can find out more on the Creativity Works! website

Writers’ Guild Awards: winners announced

on Monday, 19 January 2015 22:06. Posted in Events

Kay Mellor is honoured for outstanding contribution to writing, while writers receive awards across 13 categories

Kay Mellor

Left to right: Sally Wainwright, Kay Mellor, Sandi Toksvig

Writer, presenter, comedian, actress and producer Sandi Toksvig presented the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain annual Awards at RIBA, in London, on the evening of Monday 19 January 2015.

 “Writers are too often the unsung heroes of all forms of entertainment and how great to sing their praises this evening,” she said.

In her welcome speech, Writers’ Guild President Olivia Hetreed highlighted the crucial role of the writer in preserving freedom of speech and said, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, that "for us the greatest danger to freedom of speech is not the terrible but rare gun-toting fanatic, or the inevitable reaction that to protect our freedom we need more surveillance, more curtailment of our freedom… The real threat is in this room. 

"In self-censorship, second-guessing, anxiety not to offend, not to upset… The pen is mightier than the sword but only if we are prepared to wield it with courage and are able to find commissioners, producers, publishers, theatre management brave and tenacious enough to support difficult, daring work."

She also paid tribute to the success of the Guild in campaigning against proposed cuts to the Welsh-language soap Pobol y Cwm in 2014, and praised the “show of unity by the writers”, who had stood shoulder-to-shoulder and proved that “our Guild, when supported by all, can achieve excellent terms and conditions for its members.”

Olivia Hetreed

WGGB President Olivia Hetreed                 

An Outstanding Contribution to Writing award was presented to screenwriter, producer and actress Kay Mellor, whose many credits include Fat Friends, Jane Eyre, Band of Gold and Girls’ Night. Writer, producer and director Sally Wainwright, who presented the award, paid tribute to her as the “prolific talent behind some of the most powerful, engaging and successful British television dramas of the last 20 years… To be in Kay’s orbit is to be blessed and energised by her absolute passion for drama and her belief that you really can do anything you set your mind to.” (Read Sally Wainwright's full speech.)

Accepting the award, Kay Mellor said how recognition of writers had improved since she started in the industry. “When I first ventured on to the set I was told to sit in the corner and not talk to the actors… but I think writers have come out of the corner and there is a realisation that we are not people to be frightened of… our passion can be infectious, and cause brilliance.” She also said she believed that British drama “is in a really good place” and that we are “living in a golden age”.

A special tribute was also made to Writers’ Guild member William Ash, who died on 26 April 2014 and who was the inspiration behind Steve McQueen’s character in The Great Escape (1963). Writer, producer, director and fellow Writers’ Guild member Brendan Foley, who co-wrote the bestselling memoir Under the Wire with William Ash, said: “Unlike Steve McQueen, he spent his time in the cooler, not with a baseball and glove, but writing his first novel on scraps of paper while on bread and water punishment.” (Read Brendan Foley's full speech.)

Presenters of individual awards included writer Caitlin Moran, actress Louise Jameson, comedian Nick Revell and writer-director Sally El Hosaini.

Writers Guild Awards RIBA

The full list of winners follows:

Best Long Form TV Drama
Winner: Happy Valley by Sally Wainwright
Shortlisted: Line of Duty by Jed Mercurio, Peaky Blinders by Steven Knight

Best Short Form TV Drama
Winner: Marvellous by Peter Bowker
Shortlisted: The Great Train Robbery by Chris Chibnall, Turks & Caicos by David Hare

Best Long Running TV Series
Winner: Holby City, “Self Control” by Rebecca Wojciechowski
Shortlisted: Doctors, “Silver on the Hearth” by Toby Walton, Doctors, “Boiling Point” by Dale Overton

Best TV Situation Comedy
Winner: Him and Her by Stefan Golaszewski
Shortlisted: Up the Women by Jessica Hynes, House of Fools by Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer

Best Children’s TV Episode
Winner: Bing: “Bye Bye” by Denise Cassar & the Bing Writing Team
Shortlisted: Wizards Versus Aliens, “The Thirteenth Floor Part 2” by Phil Ford, Strange Hill High, “MCDXX Men” by Mark Oswin & James Griffiths

Best Radio Drama
Winner: A Night Visitor by Stephanie Jacob
Shortlisted: Magpie by Lee Mattinson, Dangerous Visions, “The Bee Maker” by Anita Sullivan

Best Radio Comedy
Winner: The Brig Society by Marcus Brigstocke with Jeremy Salsby, Toby Davies, Nick Doody, Dan Tetsell & Steve Punt
Shortlisted: Helen Keen’s It is Rocket Science by Helen Keen & Miriam Underhill, John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme by John Finnemore

Best First Novel
Winner: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
Shortlisted: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, Barbarians by Tim Glencross

Best Writing in a Video Game
Winner: 80 Days by Meg Jayanth
Shortlisted: A Machine for Pigs by Dan Pinchbeck, Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark by Kevin Beimers

Best First Screenplay
Winner: Starred Up by Jonathan Asser
Shortlisted: Pride by Stephen Beresford, The Selfish Giant by Clio Barnard

Best Screenplay
Winner: Metro Manila by Sean Ellis & Frank E Flowers
Shortlisted: Filth by Jon S Baird, Philomena by Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan

Best Play
Winner: James I by Rona Munro
Shortlisted: Visitors by Barney Norris, Dr Scroggy’s War by Howard Brenton

Best Play for Young Audiences
Winner: Girls Like That by Evan Placey
Shortlisted: Minotaur by Kevin Dyer, The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Mike Kenny

Outstanding Contribution to Writing
Kay Mellor

Sandi Toksvig

WGGB Awards host Sandi Toksvig

The Writers’ Guild Awards 2014 were sponsored by BBC Writersroom, BBC Worldwide, ITV Studios and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

The Awards, which launched in 1961, give professional writers from across Great Britain the opportunity to honour their peers, and celebrate the importance of writing to the creative industries, both nationally and abroad. They also recognise the importance of the Guild’s work in preserving freedom of speech.

High-profile winners have included Danny Boyle, Emma Thompson, Richard Curtis, Jo Brand, Jimmy McGovern, Victoria Wood and James Corden.

A full list of previous winners is available on the IMDb website

A full gallery of photos is on our Facebook page (all photos: WGGB/Guy Cragoe)

Best Childrens TV Award 14

Obituary: Jean McConnell 1928-2015

on Friday, 16 January 2015 16:18. Posted in General

Jean McConnell, a founder member of WGGB and a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, died on 6 January 2015 in Tunbridge Wells.

Jean was also a Vice President and former Chair of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.

Her funeral will be held at 12 noon on Thursday 22 January 2015 at Tunbridge Wells Cemetery Chapel, Benham Mill Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5JJ, followed by a wake at the Oast Theatre, London Road, Tonbridge TN10 3AN.

Donations in memory of Jean, for the continued work of the Oast Theatre, where many of her plays were previewed, or to a charity of choice.

Obituary: Brian Clemens 1931-2015

on Monday, 12 January 2015 16:25. Posted in General

By Gail Renard

Brian Clemens, screenwriter and long-standing WGGB member, died on Saturday 10 January 2015. His prolific career spanned decades.

Clemens started as a messenger boy at advertising company J. Walter Thompson and, whilst there, sold his first thriller screenplay, Valid for Single Journey Only, to the BBC. He went on to write many of the most popular ITC drama series, including Danger Man, The Persuaders and The Professionals. Clemens also wrote the pilot of the original The Avengers television series, and went on to be its script editor, associate producer and lead writer for eight years. His output was so vast he often used the pseudonym Tony O'Grady.

Clemens also worked in America on the Father Dowling Mysteries, Perry Mason and Diagnosis: Murder.

It's not surprising that writing formed a large part of Brian Clemens' DNA. He was related to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). In recognition of his contribution to British television and film, Brian Clemens was honoured with an OBE.

His work was the background for many of our childhoods. Brian Clemens was a unique writer. Our sympathies to his wife Janet and family.

Charlie Hebdo: We must protect free speech

on Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:15. Posted in General

Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of WGGB, said: “We deplore the shocking murders of 10 journalists and two police officers in the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

“While journalism is not the prime concern of the WGGB, nevertheless all writers, whether dramatists, novelists, poets or whatever, need the oxygen of free speech to deliver meaningful and significant work.

“It is not free speech to say that we can publish only material that will not offend or upset anyone. The whole point about free speech is that anyone can say anything they like, whether it is unkind, offensive, satirical, obscene, defamatory or even plain untrue.

“In our society, we have those rights and we must protect them. Of course we have to accept the consequences of exercising those rights. If what we write is against the law of the land we can be prosecuted. If it is defamatory we can be sued. If it offends a particular group, then we must be prepared for them to exercise their own right of free speech and argue against us and perhaps even demonstrate against us in the streets. But murder is simply a crime, and the ultimate denial of free speech.

“The guiding principle is that there must be no prior restraint, no censorship, no arbitrary limits. If we can’t uphold that principle, free speech will be extinct.”

The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, which WGGB is affiliated to, has issued the following statement:

"European screenwriters, represented by the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, are horrified by the cowardly, murderous attack on the creators and editors of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7th. As screenwriters we are shocked by this assault on our freedom to speak our minds, our freedom to create. Freedom of Expression is the essential prerequisite of creativity. The slaughter in Paris is an attack on our right to speak, to voice our opinions, to tell our stories. In solidarity with those who lost their lives, we reject terror, silence and submission."

Tinniswood Award 2014: shortlist announced

on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 10:00. Posted in Radio

The Tinniswood Award 2014 is presented to the best original radio drama script by any writer broadcast in the UK from 1 October 2013 to 31 October 2014. 

The Award is jointly administered by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors, with the prize of £1,500 sponsored by the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society. The judges this year were Sue Teddern, Amanda Whittington and Kate Chapman.

The winner will be announced on Sunday 1 February 2015 at the BBC Audio Drama Awards, alongside the Society of Authors’ Imison Award and the Audio Drama Awards categories.

The shortlist is as follows:

Goodbye by Morwenna Banks

Produced by Heather Larmour, BBC Northern Ireland, 75’, BBC R4

Morwenna Banks.finalLizzie and Jen have shared everything. When Lizzie is diagnosed with cancer their worlds are turned upside down. Together the friends negotiate the stages of her treatment and see their friendship tested and redefined in ways they could not have predicted. And when they learn that Lizzie doesn't have much time left, they struggle to do the hardest thing of all. To say Goodbye.

The judges said: A skilled combination of funny, moving, achingly sad and extraordinarily life-enhancing, despite the subject at its heart.

Morwenna Banks (left) is well-known as an actor and writer. Her first feature The Announcement won several awards and her latest feature film Miss You Already, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is set for release in 2015. Current projects include the comedy Damned for Sky Arts television (co-written with Jo Brand); Shush, a new Radio 4 series co-starring and co-written with Rebecca Front; a further new Radio 4 series reprising cult sketch show Absolutely, winner of the 2014 BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Scripted Comedy (Live Audience); and a new series of Up the Women for BBC 2.

The Good Listener by Fin Kennedy

Produced by Boz Temple-Morris, Holy Mountain, 45’, BBC R4

FinKennedy.finalIntelligence agents at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) are tracking three young British Muslims as they head for Syria. Henry Morcombe, an experienced GCHQ analyst, is tasked with establishing whether they intend to deliver humanitarian aid or join the armed conflict. How to protect the public, while keeping within legal and ethical boundaries, is far from straightforward, and tensions emerge as the team responds to unfolding events.

The judges said: An ever-relevant subject, treated with wit, pace and a real understanding of the craft. Highly compelling radio.

Fin Kennedy (left) is an award-winning playwright, freelance dramaturg and producer and Co-Artistic Director of Tamasha, where he will become Artistic Director in 2015. He has written for Soho Theatre, Sheffield Crucible, Southwark Playhouse, Half Moon, The Red Room and BBC Radio 4, and his plays are also produced internationally. He is writer-in-residence at Mulberry School in east London and founder of Schoolwrights, the UK's first playwrights-in-schools training scheme.

Men Who Sleep In Cars by Michael Symmons Roberts

Produced by Susan Roberts, BBC Radio Drama North, 44’, BBC R4

Michael Symmons Roberts.finalOne night in the week preceding England’s first World Cup fixture, three men whose lives have been turned upside down by the recession sleep in their cars on the streets of Manchester. They listen to the radio for company, hearing the build-up to the World Cup, where some of the most powerful men in the world of sport compete on the world stage. As the play develops we gradually learn how these three came to this, and how their lives interconnect.

The judges said: Timely, visceral and lyrical, this play examined the underbelly of contemporary urban life in surprising ways.

Michael Symmons Roberts (left) is one of Britain’s leading poets. His six poetry collections and his work for radio and as an opera librettist have won him many awards. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the English Association. The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has described him as “the clearest and purest voice currently sounding in British poetry”. He is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Previous winners of the Tinniswood Award, established in memory of English radio and TV comedy scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood, who died in 2003, have included Hannah Silva, Colin Teevan, Murray Gold, Mike Bartlett and Rachel Joyce.