Death In Paradise indie Red Planet Pictures and partner ITV Drama have announced that Dublin based Devin Doyle is this year’s winner of the Red Planet Prize for his family drama Devoted Wife and Mother.
Started 10 years ago, the award recognises talented writers who can create “fresh, original and inspiring popular drama.” This year’s winner, Devin Doyle, will get a script commission and development opportunities with ITV, alongside runner up Sharma Walfall who has secured development funding from Red Planet Pictures.

Doyle‘s script for family drama Devoted Wife and Mother  follows a woman as she has her life turned upside down when her debt dealing husband is kidnapped with a 500k ransom deadline for 5pm that day.

This year’s prize winner will be developed by Kate Rowland, who was also one of the judges. Rowland set up the BBC Writersroom and across her career she has helped develop the early careers of screenwriters including Lee Hall (War Horse), Stephen Butchard (The Child in Time) and Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None).

Devin Doyle, winner of the 2018 Red Planet Prize, said; “I’m excited, delighted and still more than a little shocked to have been named the winner of the Red Planet Prize. I’m deeply grateful to Red Planet Pictures and ITV for the opportunity the competition affords emerging writers. It’s a privilege, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the work.”

Runner up, Sharma Walfall’s submitted script, The Front Room, set in 1960’s Manchester, is being developed with Red Planet Pictures. 

Walfall commented; “Being a runner up in such an incredible competition filled with such talented writers, and being able to work with Red Planet Pictures, is mind-blowing and exciting. This means the world to me as the story that I want to tell is very close to my heart. Thank you to Red Planet Pictures and ITV for picking me. I’m really looking forward to the future of this project.”

To find the eventual winners, twelve shortlisted writers were invited to a pitching master-class with Red Planet Pictures CEO Tony Jordan (Life On Mars, Hustle, Dickensian) and Victoria Fea, ITV’s Senior Drama Commissioner, who, along with actor, director and writer Adrian Lester OBE (Riviera, Hustle) and Kate Rowland, made up the judging panel. The strongest ideas and writers were invited to a final interview, leading to today’s announcement.

Tony Jordan said; “We know this industry can be hard to break into, which is why we believe so fervently in giving opportunities like the Red Planet Prize to brilliant and talented writers. All 1,300 entries this year showed great promise, but Devin’s assured and great visual style makes him a real talent for the future, and I believe that Devoted Wife and Mother will make an incredible piece of drama for viewers to get their teeth stuck into.”

Victoria Fea added; “We were excited by the range and diversity of storytelling on offer this year and had a difficult job in creating a shortlist – a situation which reflects the dynamism and creativity in the TV Drama industry. However, both Devin and Sharma submitted pitches which had great potential for development; showing a great deal of thought about how their idea would stand out in a competitive marketplace.”

Jon Creamer

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