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Writers' Guild Awards 2013 shortlists

on Saturday, 05 October 2013 08:51. Posted in General

The Writers' Guild Awards will be presented in London on Wednesday 13 November 2013. The shortlists in 13 categories are published below.

TV Drama Series
Silk (Peter Moffat), The Village (Peter Moffat), Broadchurch (Chris Chibnall)

Continuing Drama
Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Doctors

TV Comedy
Getting On (Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, Joanna Scanlan), Fresh Meat (Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain), Him and Her (Stefan Golaszewski)

TV Drama Short Form
The Girl (Gwyneth Hughes), Room at the Top (Amanda Coe), Murder : Joint Enterprise (Robert Jones)

Children’s TV
The Dumping Ground - What Would Gus Want? (Elly Brewer), What’s the Big Idea - What is Art? (Alan Gilbey), The Dumping Ground - The Truth is Out There (Emma Reeves)

Radio Drama
Tennyson and Edison (David Pownall), The Go-Between (adapted by Frances Byrnes from the novel by LP Hartley), Once Upon a Time There Was a Beatrix (Lavinia Murray)

Radio Comedy
Susan Calman is Convicted (Susan Calman), Fags, Mags & Bags (Sanjeev Kohli and Donald McLeary), Meet David Sedaris (David Sedaris)

The Universe versus Alex Woods (Gavin Extence), Big Brother (Lionel Shriver), The Card (Graham Rawle)

Tomb Raider (Rhianna Pratchett), Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell), Lego City Undercover (Graham Goring)

First Screenplay
Sightseers (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram), Good Vibrations (Colin Carberry, Glen Patterson), Grabbers (Kevin Lehane), What Richard Did (Malcolm Campbell)

My Brother the Devil (Sally El Hosaini), Byzantium (Moira Buffini), Skyfall (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan)

Theatre Play
Quietly (Owen McCafferty), Brilliant Adventures (Alistair MacDowall), The Thrill of Love (Amanda Whittington)

Theatre Play for Young People
Whole (Phillip Osment), I, Cinna (Tim Crouch), Mr Holgado (Christopher William Hill)

WGA calls for solidarity in ITV negotiations

on Thursday, 03 October 2013 09:05. Posted in TV


WGGB supporting the WGA: (left to right) former WGGB Chair Robert Taylor, Anne Hogben and Roger Willams

My First Play

on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 17:53. Posted in Theatre

My First Play: An Anthology of Theatrical Beginnings is published by Nick Hern Books to celebrate 25 years of theatre publishing.


All royalties from the sale of the book are donated to the Theatre Section of the Writers' Guild. To buy a copy with a 25% discount off the cover price of £9.99, go to (discount valid until 31 December 2013).

The extracts below are reprinted with kind permission of the authors and Nick Hern Books.

Introduction by Nick Hern

In 2013, the year I’m writing this, the publishing firm I set up in 1988 celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. As a publisher I naturally wanted to publish something special to mark the occasion. Rejecting the idea of a ‘Reader’ consisting of bleeding chunks of plays and books by the various authors on the Nick Hern Books list, I hit instead on the idea of asking pretty well everyone whose plays or books had been regularly published by NHB to write a little piece on ‘My First Play’.

I explained to them that this could be ‘the first play you ever saw, the first play you wrote/acted in/directed, the first one that blew your socks off, the play that made you want to go into the theatre etc., etc.’ And I attached a piece I had just written on the subject by way of proving to myself it could be done – and that it could be fun.

The result was instantaneous. Pieces started coming in that very evening. The first was by Caryl Churchill with a note that read: ‘This is the sort of thing that if I don’t do it at once the time will rush by and I won’t do it at all.’ Then a piece by Ella Hickson, full of the joy of a fascinating discovery. Then Larry Kramer, Stephen Jeffreys and Alexi Kaye Campbell all came through within a day or two. After the trickle came a gratifying flood, the results of which fill this book.

People who were absurdly busy were often the most punctilious – Bruce Norris and Dominic Cooke both sent pieces while opening The Low Road at the Royal Court, Richard Eyre from Chichester where he was opening The Pajama Game, Howard Brenton from Hampstead where he was arresting Ai Weiwei, Joanna Murray-Smith from the opening of her new play at the Sydney Theatre Company, Oliver Ford Davies from the exhaustion of an extended tour of Goodnight Mister Tom, and Polly Teale from mid-rehearsals for Alexi’s Bracken Moor. Tanya Ronder struggled out from under the Table at the National to deliver her piece, while Conor McPherson managed his while attending to the revival of one play, The Weir, and the premiere of another, The Night Alive, both at the Donmar. It wasn’t all theatre, though: Elaine Murphy, six months pregnant, overcame ‘baby brain’ to write a piece, while Chloë Moss delivered hers soon after giving birth. And these are just the stories I heard about. Everyone whose pieces appear here generously put aside pressing obligations to make their contributions, for which I’m humbly grateful.

And what heart-warming, revelatory, hilarious and touching pieces they are – all in all a marvellous birthday present to NHB. I read many of them with eyes misting over at the joyous – yet complex – innocence on display. And it occurred to me that each of them in their way is the story of a love affair…

BBC threatens children's writers as Trust gets confused

on Friday, 27 September 2013 18:07. Posted in TV

A response from the Writers' Guild on pay and scheduling

The Writers’ Guild is resisting BBC proposals that would cut many children’s writers’ upfront pay by 20% - just as the BBC Trust praises children’s output but calls for both higher productivity and fewer programmes.

The pay issue has its roots in the decision a year ago to take all children's programming off BBC1 and BBC2 and concentrate it on the daytime channels Cbeebies and CBBC. Until now writers of drama and scripted comedy shows for children (over 15 minutes) have been paid their fee plus a subsequent use advance of 100%, recognising that most such programmes would be broadcast on both the network and the specialist channels. This is in line with the principle that 'primary' channels pay the advance while 'secondary' channels don’t.

Although Cbeebies and CBBC are now the BBC’s only television services for children, the corporation still regards them as 'secondary' and wants to cut the advance from 100% to 60% - equivalent to a cut of 20% in the upfront payment. To sweeten the pill, the BBC has offered to keep the advance at 100% for current writers for three years – at which point the cut would be imposed. New writers would go straight on to the 60% advance.

The Guild and the Personal Managers’ Association (representing writers’ agents) have rejected the proposals and have called instead for Cbeebies and CBBC to be re-categorised as primary channels, to recognise the importance of children’s programming as one of the basic pillars of the BBC. Negotiations are continuing.

Meanwhile the BBC Trust, red-faced after the row over executive pay-offs, this week issued a comprehensive review of BBC children’s services, described by Guild general secretary Bernie Corbett as 'baffling, confusing, and pointing in all directions at once'.

An interview with Paul Ashton

on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 20:10. Posted in TV

Having recently left his development producer role at BBC Writersroom, Paul Ashton has joined Creative England as Senior Film Executive – Talent Development. Richard Bevan talks to him about working with writers and his book The Calling Card Script (2011) exploring the challenges writers must overcome.

Richard Bevan: What led you to write The Calling Card Script?

Paul AshtonPaul Ashton: What the publisher really liked about my idea was that it was cross-media, it wasn’t about how to write a film or a play, it was about what the universal characteristics might be across different kinds of writing, where the similarities are and where the differences break in. The unique thing about the book I think is that it takes in theatre, radio, television and film in one go and don’t separate them out. This is partly because of a consequence that I’ve been working across for many years.

Was there one particular thing that you were particularly keen for the book to say to writers?

Yes, I had a strong feeling that in the current climate writers should not close off opportunities. Some of the best writers are moving between different mediums, forms and formats and graduating from one and then going back. Some of my favourite writers like Dennis Kelly and Jack Thorne are theatre writers, they’re radio writers and they’re TV and film writers. They do all of them differently at different times but don’t have an artificial distinction between them.

Adapting for the stage

on Friday, 20 September 2013 18:09. Posted in Events

A Writers' Guild event at Studio Theatre, Library of Birmingham as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival

8 October 2013, 4.30pm, £8/£6


To celebrate the opening of the Library of Birmingham and the theatre it shares with the Birmingham REP, a panel of distinguished playwrights discuss their experience of bringing books to the stage. How did they overcome the inherent difficulties? What liberties did they allow themselves to take? And why did they believe the book needed to be adapted in the first place?

Birmingham-based playwright, David Edgar won an Olivier Award for his RSC adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. Having transferred to New York it went on to win a Tony Award and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

Theresa Heskins is the Artistic Director of North Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre. The novels she’s dramatised include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Bleak House. She has also adapted works for BBC Radio 4.

Michael Fry is the Deputy Director of the East 15 Acting School. His adaptations include Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Emma and The Great Gatsby. His book on adaptation, Playing the Novel, is due to be published next year.

The panel will be chaired by author Helen Cross, whose first novel My Summer of Love was made into a BAFTA award winning film.

Booking details: