Thursday, 7 April 2011

Let the cluster**** to Elstree begin

Applications for the 2011 BBC Drama Writers Academy will be open on 7th April until 5th May 2011. Please see the BBC Jobs website for an online application form. Now in its seventh year, the Writers Academy is a major initiative aimed at discovering and training the next generation of writers for BBC One’s flagship shows: EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Doctors. The scheme works as an apprenticeship for writers.

The first part involves a three-month course taught by John Yorke, Controller of Drama. Writers then complete a broadcast episode of Doctors, and if this is accepted they then complete commissions on Casualty, Holby and EastEnders. Eight writers are selected out of hundreds of applicants to undergo the intensive 15-month programme designed to equip them with all the skills necessary to write successfully for BBC Drama. The course entails classroom training, lectures from the country's best writers, instruction in all aspects of television production, and direct writing experience on the four Continuing Drama shows.

What the Academy enables us to do is to attract writers with interesting and original voices to television. Many of the Academy writers come to us from Radio or Theatre backgrounds. Previous graduates have gone on to become core writers for Casualty, Holby City, or EastEnders, and also to write for other shows for the BBC and elsewhere. Over 80% of course graduates are still in constant work with us.

Entry requirements

You are eligible to apply if you have been paid to write for television, film, radio, or theatre. Along with your online application form, you will need to send in an original sample of your writing plus proof of a professional commission. The online application forms can be completed through the BBC Jobs website - after 11th April 2011.

The course breaks down as follows:

An introduction to writing for continuing drama series 13 weeks training made up of: Classroom lectures accompanied by intensive writing exercises, analysis, and individual tutorials, led by John Yorke. Guest lectures from leading British TV and film writers including Richard Curtis, Tony Jordan, Jimmy McGovern, Peter Bowker, Tony McHale, Sarah Phelps, and Barbara Machin. Workshops in all aspects of television production including directing, scheduling, production management, casting, and more. During this period each writer will also write an episode of Doctors.

Writing for broadcast

At the end of the 13 weeks, if their individual Doctors episode is greenlit for broadcast, each writer will rotate across EastEnders, Casualty, and Holby City, writing a broadcast episode on each show.

At the end of the 15 months, each writer will have written for each of the four shows. The BBC also has an option at this time to guarantee further commissions on the shows.

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