BBC Studios has revealed the names of the successful candidates for its paid training programme for up-and-coming writers with seven women chosen for the eight person scheme.


The Writer’s Academy offers the opportunity for the writers to gain the skills needed to pen TV drama – and also to write broadcast episodes for some of the BBC’s most successful continuing dramas. 


Jess Green, Katerina Watson, Emma Dennis-Edwards, Rebekah Harrison, Lydia Marchant, Jennie Davis, Tom Powell and Kellie Smith will all, following an intensive 13-week classroom period led by Writers’ Academy Head John Yorke, spend three months scripting broadcast episodes of Casualty, Holby City and EastEnders alongside other Continuing Drama shows. Every graduate will leave with up to four scripts under their belt and have their services optioned by BBC Studios over the following two years.


The students will also get to hear from some of the most influential and experienced screenwriters in TV, with confirmed course guest speakers including Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard, Line of Duty), Sophie Petzal (Blood, Red Rock), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Years and Years), Anna Symon (Mrs Wilson, Deepwater), Tony Jordan (EastEnders, Life on Mars) and Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Broken).


John Yorke, BBC Studios’ Writers’ Academy Head says: “We arrived at our final eight, with no pre-conceived plan – the only criteria was excellence. It’s been thrilling to see not just a vast increase in female candidates, but a far greater percentage in the final stages than ever before. That seven of our eight students are female is an indication that something has shifted – and something very exciting is happening with the next generation of writers.”


Mark Linsey, BBC Studios Chief Creative Officer, commented: “Investing in new and emerging talent to tell quintessential British stories is at the heart of BBC Studios’ IP strategy, as well as being crucial to the continued success and performance of our production output. The Writers’ Academy has already demonstrated a knack for finding and nurturing talent on the cusp of their greatest work which suggests that these successful candidates might just be household names before too long, thrilling us with their material and unique storytelling.”


The new BBC Studios Writers’ Academy, unlike the original BBC training course (The Writers Academy) that ran from 2005 to 2013, will allow graduates to work hand in hand with BBC Studios Production, as well as BBC Studios’ portfolio of equity-owned independent production companies to develop their original ideas into treatments that will be optioned by participating production companies. 


Previous alumni includes the creators of Father Brown Rachel Flowerday and Tahsin Guner (Guner also penned RTS winner Killed By My Debt); Paul Matthew Thompson, who developed Shakespeare and Hathaway; Grantchester’s creator Daisy Coulam; Peter McKenna who devised Red Rock; Tom Bidwell creator of My Mad Fat Diary, who wrote the recent TV adaptation of Watership Down; and Kirstie Swain, writer of Pure. Eighty percent of graduates are still writing professionally today, on titles ranging from Vera and Call The Midwife, to Killing Eve and The Man In The High Castle.


New shows that have been greenlit for previous graduates include Deadwater Fell from Daisy Coulam at Channel 4, Malory Towers for CBC from Sasha Hails and Rachel Flowerday, alongside shows for ITV, Apple and the BBC. This year’s BAFTA Television Award for Best Single Film went to graduate Tahsin Guner for Killed By My Debt.  Meanwhile, Father Brown, a soft-crime show created by course Head John Yorke and the academy graduates is nearing its 100th episode. Produced by BBC Studios, Father Brown has become one of BBC Studios most successful commissions ever – selling to 232 territories globally and becoming the only UK drama to reaching over 100 million homes in the U.S.


Staff Reporter

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