Mike Leigh honoured at BAFTAs

on Monday, 09 February 2015 09:20. Posted in Film

Writer, director and WGGB member Mike Leigh received a BAFTA Fellowship at the Royal Opera House last night (8 February 2015).

Despite his Mr. Turner biopic failing to receive any nominations in the major categories at this year’s awards, presented by Stephen Fry, he said:

“We got four nominations tonight, and you BAFTA are a democratic gang and your taste is your prerogative… What is important to me is that you have awarded me this fellowship for which I am truly grateful… For me this is a sign of your respect for an offbeat, alternative, original, idiosyncratic personal kind of cinema… Pure independent cinema are the filmmakers of the future.”

The Fellowship is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, television or games.

Those previously honoured include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker and Helen Mirren.

West Midlands Writers’ Guild in rally over Birmingham Library cuts

on Thursday, 05 February 2015 11:47. Posted in General

Birmingham Library

(Photo: William Gallagher)

Members from the West Midlands Writers’ Guild joined protestors on Saturday (7 February 2015) to protest against proposed cuts to the new, award-winning Library of Birmingham (above).

Only 18 months after opening the £188-million library, Birmingham City Council is planning to cut budgets by £1.5 million. Opening hours will be slashed by 40% and there are plans for 100 staff redundancies.

The West Midlands Writers’ Guild has been campaigning against the cuts since they were announced at the end of last year.

They joined the rally, which took place on National Libraries Day, and saw Birmingham-born poet Benjamin Zephaniah give a message of support. Local musicians, poets and storytellers took part alongside the public, who were invited to attend dressed as their favourite literary character and to share stories of how libraries in the city have made a difference to their lives.

West Midlands Writers’ Guild Chair William Gallagher, talking before the event, said: “It is a rally, it is a protest and it is needed – but it's also been heartening to be in the city as the buzz about it builds. This is going to be a crucial step in our fight to keep the Library of Birmingham yet it is also very much a celebration of something that matters so much to us all."

Watch a video of Writers' Guild Deputy Chair and Birmingham resident Tim Stimpson talking at the rally:

BBC and unions agree new policy on bullying and harassment

on Thursday, 05 February 2015 09:53. Posted in TV

2creatingwithoutconflict4webExtensive discussions between the BBC and unions within the Federation of Entertainment Unions over a new policy to address complaints from staff and freelancers over bullying and harrassment have reached a conclusion.
The trade unions and the BBC issued the following statement on Wednesday 4 February 2015.

Agreed statement

“The unions (BECTU, Equity, the Musicians’ Union, NUJ, Unite and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain) and the BBC met on 21st January 2015 as part of on-going discussions about bullying & harassment grievance processes. Agreement has now been reached on a number of additional elements to our proposals, including the involvement of an external expert from the initial grievance through to any subsequent appeal.

"Both the BBC and the unions welcome these agreed changes which are designed to improve the way complaints are handled and how staff and freelancers are supported throughout the process.

"These changes will be implemented as soon as possible allowing time for the detail to be worked through and will be for a trial period of 1 year from implementation, to be reviewed.

"The Bullying and Harassment Grievance Policy and Guide, which apply to staff and freelancers, will be amended to incorporate the agreed changes to the formal procedure and will be published in the near future.”

Discussions with the unions will continue to confirm the timescale for the publication of an amended Bullying and Harrassment Grievance Policy and Guide. The unions will also be consulted over the appointment of the external experts.

Morwenna Banks wins Tinniswood Award

on Sunday, 01 February 2015 22:45. Posted in Radio

Morwenna web.1

Morwenna Banks (right) with presenter Nell Leyshon (photo: BBC)

Writer and actor Morwenna Banks has won the Tinniswood Award 2015 for her audio drama Goodbye, a moving account of a friendship negotiating cancer.

Accepting the award she paid thanks to those who had taken a chance on a “cancer drama with laughs” and said Goodbye was her attempt “to make sense of the death of three friends”.

The Tinniswood Award is jointly administered by WGGB and the Society of Authors, with the prize of £1,500 donated by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

Set up in memory of English radio and TV comedy scriptwriter Peter Tinniswood, who died in 2003, it is an annual celebration of the best original radio drama script broadcast in the UK.

The 2015 Tinniswood Award was judged by Sue Teddern, Amanda Whittington and Kate Chapman, and presented by dramatist and novelist Nell Leyshon at the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2015 (a full list of the awards, presented by comedian Lenny Henry, can be found on the BBC website).

Introducing the Tinniswood Award, Nell Leyshon said, “radio drama for writers is a very beautiful thing… it has exquisite intimacy. It goes straight into the listeners’ head”.

Shortlisted work was Men Who Sleep in Cars by Michael Symmons Roberts and The Good Listener by Fin Kennedy.

The Tinniswood Award was announced alongside the Society of Authors’ new audio drama Imison Award, this year presented to E.V. Crowe for How to Say Goodbye Properly.

WGGB member Neil Gaiman won a BBC Audio Drama Award for Outstanding Contribution to Radio Drama.

Previous winners of the Tinniswood Award have included Hannah Silva, Colin Teevan, Murray Gold, Mike Bartlett and Rachel Joyce.

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Morwenna Banks with BBC Audio Drama Awards host Lenny Henry (photo: BBC)

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