BBC Studios Drama Productions has announced new initiatives as part of its training portfolio.

The new range of BBC Studios TalentWorks training and development opportunities cater to emerging and established talent. Deborah Sathe, Creative Director for BBC Studios Drama Productions will now oversee all scripted training initiatives.

Among the offering, is a newly created The Writer Spotlight scheme, which will work with eight drama writers and four comedy performers, who have previously worked on commissioned series, to develop and harness their own ideas and IP through workshops, events and access to industry experts.

The first cohort of 12 writers will be partnered with the production teams at four of BBC Studios production labels – Firebird Pictures, House Productions, Lookout Point and Sid Gentle Films as well as with the BBC Studios Drama and BBC Studios Comedy Productions teams. The 12 writers selected are: Waleed Akhtar, Ciara Conway, Jamie Davis, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Lizzie Nunnery, Meg Salter, Ben Tagoe, Toby Walton, Jess Bray, Rachel Harper Yemi Oyefuwa and Laura Smyth. Over the course of the next year the talent will work with a dedicated team to develop their pilot scripts for their own shows.

For new and developing writing talent, BBC Studios Drama Productions offers the Writers Studio: Soap, and Writers Studio: Cosy Crime courses. These courses will give new talent the opportunity to work in BBC Studios Drama Productions on major shows including EastEnders, Casualty, River City, Pobol y Cwm, Father Brown and Sister Boniface Mysteries and learn how to craft  successful episodes.

Deborah Sathe, Creative Director, BBC Drama Productions, says: “BBC Studios’ soap, medical dramas and cosy crime productions have always been an extraordinary training ground yielding so many stars. Through BBC Studios TalentWorks, we are extending our training ambitions to offer world class support, access and experience to see a new wave of British storytellers flourish.  I am so excited about the talent we are working with and the shows they will launch.  It is a really exhilarating time to be part of BBC Studios.”

Today’s announcement follows the recent repositioning of BBC Studios Drama Productions, led by Kate Oates. With the scripted training schemes now under the leadership of Deborah Sathe, who also oversees the development slates being driven by the new hires Tom Williams (Head of Development) and Roxanne Harvey (Executive Producer for Casualty and Development Wales), “BBC Drama Productions will be in a strong position to bring the most competitive slate to the UK and global market.”

The unit is already working with a number of commissioners and has a slate that includes EastEnders, Casualty, Father Brown, Sister Boniface, River City, Pobol Y Cwm, and new comedy-drama Anfamol. Silent Witness will also move to the unit when it moves to the West Midlands later in 2024. It is also working on new drama developments for the BBC and domestic and international channels and platforms.

12 Writers in the 2023 BBC Studios TalentWorks The Writer Spotlight are:

Waleed Akhtar 

Waleed is an award winning writer and actor, winning an Olivier for his play The P Word which he also starred in and is now adapting for screen. His debut play Kabul Goes Pop earned him Most Promising Playwright at The Offies and he’s received a MGC Futures award and a Peggy Ramsey Foundation / Film 4 Playwrights’ bursary. As an actor he has worked extensively on stage and notable screen credits include The Great, Cruella, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. He’s also writing on The Road Trip for Paramount + and developing his own projects for stage and screen.

Ciara Conway

After 13 years in editorial, where she grew from a junior script editor to lead writer on BBC Scotland’s ‘River City’, Ciara took the leap into writing full time in 2017. Her credits include multiple episodes of continuing dramas such as ‘Holby City’ and ‘Casualty’ alongside prime time dramas ‘Screw’ (C4) and ‘For Her Sins’ (C5). She is currently working on Helen Black’s first original series ‘The Wives’ (C5) and ‘Whitstable Pearl’ for Acorn.

Jamie Davis 

Jamie Davis is the Writer and Creator of the new ITV series ‘YOU & ME’ (Executive Produced by Russell T Davies). Jamie began his career as an actor appearing in a wide range of television programmes and on stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company. As a writer, Jamie was part of the 2021 BBC Writers Academy and has since worked on Eastenders and Casualty. He was also recently selected as one of Broadcast magazines ‘Hot Shots’ for 2023.

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm is a playwright and screenwriter. She was commissioned by The Globe to write Emilia which became a hit show in summer 2018 before transferring to the West End in 2019, winning three Olivier awards including Best Comedy or Entertainment. Other plays include The Wasp, Belongings, When The Long Trick’s Over, Mum and Typical Girls. TV includes, Obsession for Netflix, School of Comedy for C4 and Hotel Trubble for BBC. Films include The Wasp, starring Naomie Harris and Natalie Dormer and directed by Guillem Morales.

Lizzie Nunnery

Lizzie is a scriptwriter and songwriter working in film, TV, theatre, and radio. Her short film ANOTHER WORLD was selected by BBC Writersroom from nearly 7000 scripts, and produced in 2020. She was part of the writers room for hit series WILDERNESS (Firebird Pictures/ Amazon). Theatre work includes Intemperance (Liverpool Everyman) which was awarded five stars by The Guardian and shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award; and Narvik (Box of Tricks Theatre) which won Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards 2017, and will be produced in Bodø Norway for European Capital of Culture 2024. Latest play Heavy Weather (Tonic Theatre) was nominated for Best Play for Young People at the Writers’ Guild Awards 2022.

Meg Salter

Meg is a writer and actor whose credits include THE CLEANER with Greg Davies for BBC1; GANGS OF LONDON S2 (Sky/AMC) and THE RIG S1 and S2 (Amazon). Meg is also part of the multi-award winning international sketch trio, MURIEL, whose self-made and self-produced sketches have amassed over 100 million views online.

Ben Tagoe

Ben has written on various TV shows including Sky comedy IN THE LONG RUN and drama STAN LEE’S LUCKY MAN. He was selected for the BBC Writers Academy in 2011, gaining credits on EASTENDERS, CASUALTY and DOCTORS, before writing 32 episodes of CORONATION STREET from 2014 to 2017. In 2016, Ben’s episode of CBBC’s JAMIE JOHNSON was shortlisted for the Children’s BAFTA awards, International Emmys and Royal Television Society awards. He has various original TV projects in development. For the stage, Ben’s plays include WHEN WE WERE BROTHERS, THE THING ABOUT PSYCHOPATHS and COLD TURKEY AT NANA’s. Most recently, his 1-man show BETTER DAYS toured the UK to critical and audience acclaim in Spring ’23 and was remounted at The Edinburgh Fringe.

Toby Walton

Toby is a core writer for CASUALTY (BBC) and his episode ‘SAME OLD, SAME OLD’ was nominated for a BAFTA in 2022. He has written over 65 episodes for DOCTORS including a number of standalone episodes, namely – the 20th Anniversary hour-long special ‘A DAY AT THE MILL’ and the COVID special ‘CAN YOU HEAR ME?’ shot on iPhones. In 2023 he won the WGGGB Best Long Running TV Series award for his episode ‘HELLO?’  He has written a number of spec scripts. As an actor he has appeared in theatre productions, TV shows and films.

BBC Studios Comedy

Jess Bray

Jess is a comedy-drama writer, with several original TV and film projects in development. She regularly works in writers’ rooms and has developed shows for multiple broadcasters. Jess was recently selected as one of seven “next generation showrunners” in Chris Chibnall’s inaugural Next Generation Showrunner Programme.

Rachel Harper

Rachel Harper is a Welsh writer and actor, born and raised in Wrexham. She cut her teeth in continuing drama and has now finished her tenth episode of Casualty. Alongside this, Rachel has written original broadcast comedy for BBC Wales and has a range of comedy drama through to sitcoms in development for various production companies. Rachel is also an online comedy creator with a half a million strong following and a vocal impressionist having performed on the Ellen DeGeneres show in 2020.

Yemi Oyefuwa

Yemi Oyefuwa was in the writer’s room for EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE (Dolly Alderton/Working Title TV/BBC) and DREAMING WHILST BLACK (Big Deal Films/BBC), writing two episodes of the latter. Yemi also wrote an episode of TELL ME EVERYTHING (Noho Films/ITV2). She was recently in the writers’ room and co-wrote for Monica Heisey’s SMOTHERED (Roughcut) and has written an episode for BOARDERS (Studio Lambert/BBC Three), and an episode of FOOL ME ONCE (the new Harlan Coben thriller series for Netflix/Quay Street). Yemi has further originals in development. It has also been announced that Yemi will co-adapt Jessica George’s debut novel MAAME alongside George for Universal International Studios (UIS). Her original pilot script SIX FOOT SOMETHING, which was developed with Hat Trick, has been shot as a short film, now showing on Sky and NOWTV.

Laura Smyth

Originally an English teacher, Laura entered the Funny Women Awards in 2019 and won the main stage award. She has appeared on Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club on ITV and Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, where she joined Alan Davies, Tez Ilyas, Sara Pascoe and Ade Edmondson. She was also part of the writing team for the new series of Bad Education with Jack Whitehall as executive producer.

Jon Creamer

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