A Writers' Guild West Midlands event - Wednesday, December 11, 7.30pm - 9.30pm
In recents months two important chairs have been filled in BBC Radio Drama. Sean O'Connor has taken the reins at the The Archers. Meanwhile Jessica Dromgoole is helming the landmark World War I drama, Home Front. Sean and Jessica will join us to talk about their shows, the craft of Radio Drama and opportunities within the industry.
Sean O'Connor was a producer on The Archers in the late 1990s, before moving on to TV shows such as EastEnders, Hollyoaks & Minder. He has also directed extensively in theatre, including his own adaptations of Vertigo, Marnie and Romeo & Juliet, as well as producing a film version of Terrence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea. His book Handsome Brute was published this year.
Jessica Dromgoole has directed in theatre and radio, winning various awards including the Prix Italia for Original Radio Drama, a BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Audio Drama, and a bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for Best Drama. Between 1988 and 1991 Jessica was Artistic Director of the Finsborough Theatre, since when she's been New Writing Co-ordinator for the BBC.
This event is FREE to members of the Writers' Guild and £5 for non-members. Attendees are invited to a festive drink in The Mailbox afterwards.
Paul Bassett Davies on his new sitcom Reception, and the ongoing appeal of radio
Morwenna Banks, Adrian Scarborough and Amit Shah - stars of Reception, written by Paul Bassett Davies
People who say they don't listen to radio are like people who claim they never pay attention to advertising. They're probably absorbing more than they think, and you'd have to live in a hut on a remote island to avoid hearing any radio at all. But the hut would need to be sturdy enough to never require the attention of builders.
What those people mean, of course, is that they don't make a point of listening to radio. Maybe, like the man who once read a book and didn't like it, they once heard a radio play they didn't think much of. Which can happen. Hundreds of plays a year are broadcast on BBC radio, and if all of them were to your taste it would probably mean you didn’t have any. But if earnest dramas about social issues aren't your cup of artisanal tea, it's quite possible that the following day you could hear a sci-fi thriller that exploits the medium's extraordinary imaginative potential to mind-bending effect. You never know.
I've written several radio dramas, and now I've written a radio sitcom called Reception, which is currently being broadcast on Mondays at 11.30am on BBC Radio 4. It's my second foray into radio sitcom: over twenty years ago I co-wrote a sitcom with Jeremy Hardy, which I also performed in. The first series was called Unnatural Acts, then the name was changed to At Home With The Hardys. The show was both a sitcom and a pastiche of a sitcom, in the same way that The Young Ones was, on television. Listening to it now, it seems pretty hit-and-miss. Some of it holds up well, and some of it makes me cringe. I wonder with hindsight whether I should have learned more about writing a conventional sitcom before attempting to subvert the genre. Tellingly, the show's playful surrealism works best when it's firmly rooted in character and story. In some ways Reception reflects this lesson: character is at its heart; it obeys the formal rules of the genre, and it attempts to combine the restrictions of the format with the unique qualities of radio to create a series of intimate stories about friendship in the workplace. Does it succeed? The audience will decide that.
Sue Teddern on an idea that keeps on running
Writer Sue Teddern (centre) with actors Liz White and Julian Rhind-Tutt
February 2013: I am in Studio 60A at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House and have been instructed by producer David Hunter to swap my comfy Timberlands for a pair of scruffy, strappy stilettoes from the props cupboard. For this is my 'Colin Dexter moment'. I am to play non-speaking Hilary, who must sashay past Tom (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and Rosie (Liz White) in a hotel breakfast room. I sashay with feeling, even though the shoes pinch. If you listen really hard to episode 4 of soloparentpals.com, you might just hear me.
I’ve written a fair amount of radio over the years but soloparentpals.com is my long runner. Series one was broadcast in 2009 and starred Kris Marshall as dumped dad Tom and Maxine Peake as stroppy single mum Rosie who meet online. Top actors are always juggling several choice gigs and, if they’re unavailable, radio’s an easy medium to re-cast, which is why Julian and Liz now have the starring roles. A fifth series will be recorded in August.
Flashback to the late 1980s: I’m attending a class at London’s City Lit in writing for radio. The inspiring tutor, Olwen Wymark, gets us to create a scene starting with: ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ For some reason, I come up with the image of a divorced dad who has his little girl on Saturdays and never knows what to do when she needs to use a public loo. Does he wait outside and look like a pervert? Or does he go in with her … and look like a pervert? His dilemma is solved by a passing mum. And thus are born Tom and Rosie, two emotionally raw single parents looking for love.
They lived in my head for years. After writing 13 episodes of Birds of a Feather, I dusted them off as the central characters of a potential new TV sitcom. Twice. Nothing doing.
Revised submission deadline: Wednesday 10 July 2013. Revised transmission period: 31 July 2012 until 31 October 2013
The Imison Award - £1,500
We would like to offer our congratulations to the 2012 winner Do You Like Banana, Comrade? by Csaba Székely, produced by Marion Nancarrow, Radio Drama London for Radio 4. Listen again on Radio 4, 2.15pm on Wednesday 20th February. Read more about the 2012 Imsion. Read more about the BBC Audio Awards.
The Imison Award encourages new talent by rewarding the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio. The work must have been broadcast in the UK from 31 July 2012 until 31 October 2013 and be the first dramatic work by the writer(s) that has been broadcast. When submitting 15-minute episodes from a series or serial we will require consecutive episodes (including the first episode) to make up at least 45 minutes. An adaptation for radio of a piece originally written for another medium will not be eligible. There is no entry-fee and submissions are accepted from any nominating party. Submissions must consist of:
- A completed nomination form;
- Three copies of the writer's original script and a CD of the broadcast (further copies may be requested)
The prize is judged by the Broadcasting Committee of the Society of Authors. We are grateful to the Peggy Ramsay Foundation for donating the prize money. Read Alison Joseph’s views on the judging process.
Tinniswood Award winner Murray Gold at the BBC Audio Drama Awards (pic: Anne Hogben/WGGB)
Kafka the Musical by Murray Gold has won the 2012 Tinniswood Award for the the best original radio drama script by any writer broadcast in the period 1 January 2011 – 30 June 2012. The Award is jointly administered by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors. The prize of £1,500 to the winner is generously sponsored by the ALCS (the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society). The judges are Meg Davis, Jonathan Myerson and Tim Stimpson.
Stephen Wyatt wins Tinniswood Prize for best script
The winners of the first ever BBC Audio Drama Awards were announced last night at a ceremony hosted by actor David Tennant in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House, London.
The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the cultural importance of audio drama, on air and online, and to give recognition to the actors, writers, producers, sound designers, and others who work in the genre.
In conjunction with the Society of Authors and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the winners of the Imison and Tinniswood Awards were also announced and presented by playwright and Guild President, David Edgar.
The winners were:
Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Drama Script
Gerontius by Stephen Wyatt
Imison Award for Best Radio Drama Script by a writer new to radio
Amazing Grace by Michelle Lipton
Best Audio Drama
Lost Property - The Year My Mother Went Missing by Katie Hims (Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4P)
Best Actor in an Audio Drama
David Tennant, Kafka: The Musical by Murray Gold (Producer: Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3)
Best Actress in an Audio Drama
Rosie Cavaliero, Lost Property: A Telegram From The Queen by Katie Hims (Producer: Jessica Dromgoole, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4)
Best Supporting Actor/Actress in an Audio Drama
Andrew Scott, Referee by Nick Perry (Producer: Sasha Yevtushenko, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4)
Best Scripted Comedy Drama
Floating by Hugh Hughes (Producer: James Robinson, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4)
Best Online Only Audio Drama
Rock by Tim Fountain (Producer: Iain Mackness, Made in Manchester for The Independent Online)
The History of Titus Groan dramatised by Brian Sibley (Producers: David Hunter, Gemma Jenkins and Jeremy Mortimer, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4)
Best Use of Sound in an Audio Drama
Bad Memories by Julian Simpson (Producer: Karen Rose, Sweet Talk Productions for Radio 4)
The Unfortunates adapted by Graham White (Producer: Mary Peate, BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3)
Read the full shortlists for the Awards
The shortlist for the first ever BBC Audio Drama Awards has been announced. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the cultural importance of audio drama, on air and online, and to give recognition to the actors, writers, producers, sound designers, and others who work in the genre.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on Sunday 29th January 2012 in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House in central London and presented by actor David Tennant. In conjunction with the Society of Authors and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, The Imison and Tinniswood Awards will also be announced and presented by playwright and Guild President, David Edgar.
View the full shortlists
Update: Guild President David Edgar's article about the Awards in The Guardian
Entries are invited for prestigious radio drama awards run by the Writers' Guild and the Society of Authors
Submission deadline: Monday 10th February 2012
The Tinniswood Award for best original radio drama
The Tiniswood Award honours the best original radio drama script broadcast in the UK over 2011 and until 30 June 2012, with a first prize of £1,500. The work must be an original piece for radio, and may also include the first episode from an original series or serial. When submitting 15-minute episodes from a series or serial we will require consecutive episodes (including the first episode) to make up at least 45 minutes. The judges reserve the right to call in the subsequent episodes if required. We welcome 30-minute plays provided they were stand-alone and that characters and situations are original to the writer. An adaptation for radio of a piece originally written for any other medium will not be eligible.
Submissions will be accepted from producers only and are restricted to a maximum of two entries per producer. Submissions must consist of:
- a complete nomination form from the producer;four copies of the writer’s script (as broadcast)
- a non-refundable entry fee of £50 - cheques should be made out to ‘The Writers’ Guild’ or by BACs to Unity Trust Bank, Account Name: Writers' Guild of Great Britain Tinniswood Award, Account No. 2013995, Sort Code: 08-60-01. Raising an invoice can be arranged
Entries will not be returned and should be sent to Anne Hogben, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, 40 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4RX.
Judges for the 2012 award are yet to be confirmed. We are grateful to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Ltd (ALCS) for their generous sponsorship of the Tinniswood Award.
The Imison Award for best original radio drama by a writer new to radio
The Imison Award encourages new talent by rewarding the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio, with a first prize of £1,500. The work must have been broadcast in the UK over 2011 or scheduled for transmission until 30 June 2012. It must be the first dramatic work by the writer(s) that has been broadcast. It may also include the first episode from an original series or serial. An adaptation for radio of a piece originally written for another medium will not be eligible.
Submissions will be accepted from any party and must consist of
- a completed nomination form
- three copies of the writer's original script and recording of the broadcast (further copies may be requested if the work is short-listed)
Entries will not be returned and should be sent to Jo McCrum, The Society of Authors, 84 Drayton Gardens, London, SW10 9SB.The prize is judged by the Broadcasting Committee of the Society of Authors. We are grateful to the Peggy Ramsay Foundation for donating the prize money.
The Writers' Guild of Great Britain has added its voice to growing calls for a rethink of the BBC’s proposed near-abandonment of Birmingham in favour of Bristol, Cardiff and Salford.
The Guild welcomed a House of Commons motion tabled by Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, and sponsored by seven other West Midlands MPs. The motion protests against BBC plans to move much of its work away from the West Midlands. The Guild and its West Midlands Branch added their support to a campaign by the actors’ union Equity for the BBC to reconsider its plans to move all BBC factual and most network radio programming out of the region.
Writers’ Guild President David Edgar, a member of the Guild’s West Midlands Branch who has written several radio plays produced at the BBC's Birmingham Mailbox studios, commented:
'If the BBC's plans go ahead, a proud tradition of drama production in the West Midlands will be narrowed down to The Archers on radio and Doctors on television. The BBC lost its last one-off drama producer earlier this year, on top of the axing of the Asian soap Silver Street. Many Birmingham writers – along with producers, technicians and actors – will no longer be able to work in their region, and one of the best radio drama studios in the country will lie idle for most days of the year. The opportunity to write for the BBC in Birmingham has made an important and irreplacable contribution to what has hitherto been a lively and growing writerly community in the region. The BBC should think again.'
Women in the UK radio industry are significantly under-represented at senior levels, according to a new report produced by Skillset for Sound Women, a new organisation dedicated to highlighting the issues faced by women in the radio industry.
The report, Tuning Out – Women In The UK Radio Industry, shows that just 17% of people operating at board level are female, and 34% are senior managers. This compares poorly with the TV industry, where 29% of board members are female, though still just 37% of senior managers are women.
This correlates with a dramatic drop-off in the number of women in the more senior age brackets. Only 50% of women working in radio are over 35 years old, compared with 60% of men. This drops to 9% in the 50-plus age bracket, compared with 19% for men.
Tuning Out also shows that women are under-represented in technical and studio-based roles. Just 1% of radio editors, 9% of people working in engineering and transmission and 10% of studio operators are women.
With only 16% of women in the industry having dependent children living with them, compared with 25% of men, it seems apparent that many women are choosing to leave the industry when they decide to start a family.
Sound Women is a network of more than 200 women working in audio that is committed to raising the profile of the women who work in the radio and audio industry.
Skillset’s executive director, Kate O’Connor, said: 'We hope that this report will stimulate debate around the issue of female representation in our industry, and are extremely pleased to be working as a founding member of Sound Women to highlight these important issues.'
The shortlists have been announced for the annual Tinniswood and Imison radio drama awards
The Tinniswood Award honours the best original radio drama script. The shortlist this year (for drama broadcast in 2010) is:
- The Climb, by Andrea Earl
- Sarah And Ken, by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
- Setting A Glass, by Nick Warburton
- Gerontius, by Stephen Wyatt
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, and the judges were Robert Bathurst, Paul Donovan and Nell Leyshon. The Award was established by the Society of Authors and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and is administered by the Society of Authors.
The Imison Award honours the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio. The shortlist this year (for drama broadcast in 2010) is:
- Atching Tan - A Tober Of Loki Nogo, by Dan Allum
- The Pursuit, by Matt Hartley
- The Barber And The Ark, by Marcia Layne
- Amazing Grace, by Michelle Lipton
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. It was founded and judged by members of the Society of Authors’ Broadcasting Committee (Alison Joseph (Chair), Mike Bartlett, Lucy Caldwell, Nazrin Choudhury, Christopher William Hill, Karen Liebreich, Sue Limb, Karl Sabbagh, Colin Teevan and John Taylor).
The presentation of the awards will take place on the evening of Sunday 4th December at a private reception at the Radio Theatre, London.
The Writers’ Guild has agreed increases of 2 per cent in the minimum fees for BBC radio writing – in line with the salary increase for lower-paid BBC staff.
The new rates (pdf), which took effect from 1 August 2011, bring the key rate for writing original radio drama to £89.05 per minute, or £5,343 for a one-hour play (two transmissions), and £892.50 per episode for The Archers. Our agreement with the BBC provides a sliding scale for other types of drama: pre-existing format 90% (£80.15 per minute); dramatisations 85%, 75% or 65% (£75.69, £66.79 or £57.88 per minute) depending on extent of work required; semi-dramatised narrations 55% (£48.98 per minute).
Minimum rates for short stories and abridgements are also increased. The attendance payment remains at £60. The rates were agreed in negotiations between the BBC, the Guild, the Society of Authors and the agents’ trade body the PMA.
Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett commented: “With the BBC agonising over yet more cuts, we must be grateful for even a small increase in writers’ fees, even though it is below inflation. But it is worrying that the number of plays commissioned is declining year by year, and Radio 4 is axing at least a third of its short stories. The Guild will continue to fight all such cuts.”
Higher minimum rates for BBC Radio Features and Talks Contributions (pdf) have also been agreed.
Writers' Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett said:
'Here is yet another meaningless cut that will save Radio 4 in a whole year less than the cost of a single coat of paint on the shiny floor of a TV talent show. For six months the BBC has been endlessly “consulting” on its next round of cuts, named without apparent irony Delivering Quality First (DQF), necessitated by the six-year licence fee freeze agreed with the incoming coalition government without any public consultation at all.
'Every time DQF is mentioned we are told that the days of “salami-slicing” under which every BBC service has to deliver the same percentage cut, are over and from now on the BBC will have to concentrate on the areas that no commercial broadcaster is interested in. Short stories, that literary endangered species, would appear to be exactly the kind of material that should be protected.
'The new Controller of Radio 4 has finished her honeymoon period. Now it is time for her to beat down the door of the Director-General and inform him that Radio 4 – and more to the point the listeners of Radio 4 – will simply not put up with any more of this pointless cultural vandalism.'
Update: The Society of Authors has published actions that people concerned about the cut to short stories can take.
Update ( 20 July 2011): In today's Daily Telegraph, in an article called Why Radio is the Ideal Home for Short Stories, Allan Massie largely agrees with Bernie Corbett's fury and argues that if the BBC offers fewer examples of the art of the glimpse, listeners as well as writers will have the right to feel cheated.
Update (8 August 2011): Gwyneth Williams, Controller of BBC Radio 4, revealed a partial climbdown from her plans to axe two-thirds of Radio 4’s short story output when she met Writers’ Guild General secretary Bernie Corbett at the end of July.
There was outrage when a BBC press release stated that 'from next spring, the number of short stories will be reduced from three to one a week on Radio 4'. An internet petition quickly gathered more than thousands of signatures, including many wellknown writers and performers. Williams, however, told Corbett the figures 'were not precise' and that she would be cutting the number from 144 to 102, most of which would be broadcast first on Radio 4 with 'a small number' premiered on digital Radio 4 Extra, but repeated on Radio 4 later. In addition, more short stories from the BBC archive would be repeated on 4 Extra.
Corbett warned Williams she risked a perception building up that Radio 4 would drift away from creative, cultural and literary writing and instead focus on news, current affairs and international coverage. Sacrificing short stories to make room for an extra 15 minutes on The World At One seemed to confirm this view. Williams countered that she was scrapping Americana and would replace it with a new Sunday night comedy.
The change in policy on short stories has failed to satisfy campaigners who demand that the full 150 per year should be retained – pointing out that until recently there were five per week, or more than 250 per year. They also believe that the new slots on Sundays and Fridays are less user-friendly than the mid-afternoon slots on weekdays.