As BBC drama Waterloo Road commissions another series of Waterloo Road from Wall to Wall North, the WBD indie is partnering with Warner Bros. Discovery Access and the Royal Exchange Theatre to launch this year’s Writers Access Programme, Supporting Powerful Storytelling.

Waterloo Road returned in January after an eight-year hiatus following a revival in audiences on BBC iPlayer during the first lockdown. The series – a Rope Ladder Fiction and Wall to Wall North co-production – is the BBC’s second biggest drama title with 16-34 year olds of the year so far, behind only Happy Valley.

The Writers Access Programme – now open for entries – aims to help emerging theatre writers from under-represented backgrounds in the North of England who are looking to break into television.

The 2023 Programme will give writers the opportunity to take part in bespoke workshops and sessions led by industry experts, helping each writer to hone their skills in screen- and stage writing. Wall to Wall North will support the writers in developing their skills in screenwriting, whilst the Royal Exchange Theatre will offer guidance in writing for stage.

The challenges facing under-represented writers in the North are widely acknowledged and the programme aims to create a pathway for writers who themselves have experienced barriers to forging sustainable, long-term careers in the industry. Supporting Powerful Storytelling will create a space in which passionate storytellers can experiment, take risks, hone and develop their work.

The selected writers will be mentored by Wall to Wall North’s Executive Producer Sian Palfrey (Overshadowed/Girlfriends), whilst each writer will be named Artist in Residence at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, supported by Dramaturg Suzanne Bell.

During the Programme, the writers will be given the opportunity to write a one-hour TV pilot script with the support of a professional Script Editor, offering unique, hands-on experience and exposure to the collaborative process at this early stage in their career.

In addition, the writers will be offered two one-to-one meetings with a Dramaturg from the Royal Exchange Theatre where they will have the opportunity to discuss their stage work and receive expert advice and feedback.

Wall to Wall North’s Sian Palfrey said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the incredible team at the Royal Exchange Theatre to help emerging playwrights transition their skills to screen, while further nurturing their writing for stage. For many new writers, theatre can feel accessible in a way TV often doesn’t and it’s important to lift the lid on our industry for those breaking through. New writers are the lifeblood of both TV and theatre, and we’re excited to discover the next wave of voices from the North and empower them to carve out long and successful careers across both.”

Suzanne Bell, Royal Exchange Theatre Dramaturg said “Following the success of our partnership with WBD last year we are delighted to be working with them again. We are thrilled that the project has expanded to include Wall to Wall North who make some of the most exciting content on our screens. Working collaboratively to support writers is vital at this time. Writers are at the heart of what we all do, and it is imperative that we find ways to support them to forge sustainable careers – making storytelling in the UK more exciting than ever before.”

Asif Sadiq MBE, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery said:“We’re delighted to announce the return of the Writers Exchange Programme, once again partnering with the prestigious Royal Exchange Theatre. The addition of our award- winning production company, Wall to Wall North, who will be supporting the writers in their journey to write for TV, is hugely exciting and will no doubt add even more value to the experience. Warner Bros. Discovery is passionate about facilitating change in the industry to help increase access and visibility for creative talent that may have faced challenges or obstacles in their careers and it is our hope that the Writers Exchange, alongside many of our other talent development programmes as part of WBD Access can contribute to that aim in the UK.”

To be eligible, applicants must:

● Currently reside in the North of England – defined as Yorkshire and Humber, North-West and North-East England

● Be at least 18 years old

● Not have any screen credits at the time of applying

To be selected for the programme, applicants will need to demonstrate that they:

● Have a distinctive voice and a drive to tell ambitious stories that will connect with a wide audience

● Have an interest in writing for screen and a commitment to forging a career as a writer across media

● Would tangibly benefit from the opportunity of structured support, and a bespoke developmental journey.

The deadline for admissions is 8 May 2023 , with successful candidates announced w/c 3rd July.

The Supporting Powerful Storytelling programme is now open for applications.


Pippa Considine

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