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The BBC Script Room and Radio
Submissions open September and October.
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As you probably know The BBC Writersroom (until May 2012) has been replaced by the Script Room. This is a means by which the BBC seeks out the best new writing talent, offering writers without a track record, representation, or contacts the opportunity to have their work considered by the BBC.

Rather than accept scripts year-round in a rolling system, the BBC now has distinct submission windows for scripts which will be announced on the BBC writersroom Opportunities page throughout the year. Each call will have a deadline, and the scripts received will be assessed intensively by script readers and the Writersroom team, and a shortlist drawn up. Development opportunities will then be offered to the shortlisted group of writers.
Be warned, The BBC receives thousands of scripts every year and the competition is extremely tough.
How to submit
When Script Room is open for submissions – the dates and details on how to submit a script will be made available on the BBC writersroom Opportunities page.

The submissions are on an online basis and various talent searches are run throughout the year.

Submission windows 2014
For 2014 the BBC is accepting submissions by genre.

For Scriptroom 7 which closed in July they were accepting scripts for Cbbc dramas, suitable for kids up to 12 years of age.

Scriptroom 8 however which will be open in September and October will accept Radio and Stage Drama.

This is a great opportunity for radio drama writers to have their work read and assessed by the BBC. So now is the time to get your work ready and polished.

I would suggest that before you send anything to the BBC be sure to have your work read by a good script editor who has experience with working for radio. No-one can really accurately edit their own work and an experienced eye is always needed for an objective overview of your work.
Of course I am offering my services for this work but any experienced radio writer would be able to help you improve your work to get it ready for the BBC readers. Check my My Services page https://justwrite4radio.wordpress.com/my-services/ for more details.

What you should check
– Make sure your script is as good as you can make it and only send it in when you believe it represents the best of your writing abilities.

– Do not simultaneously send your script elsewhere at the BBC – most departments do not accept unsolicited work and will simply redirect it to us.

– Format your script as closely to industry standard as you can. They do not accept handwritten scripts and if you are sending by post – print on only one side of A4 paper. They do not penalise writers for imprecise formatting, but presenting your work appropriately suggests a professional approach and an understanding of the medium and format for which you are writing. There are script formatting programs available.

– You will be asked to provide a brief biography when submitting your script online. If there is information about your background you feel is relevant, or you have any other relevant experience, then you can include this.

For full details go the BBC Writers Room http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/send-a-script/

Good luck with your submissions and I look forward to reading your scripts.

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Tell the Story
Writing Radio Dialogue.

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If movie writers follow any rule, and they seldom do, it’s ‘show, don’t tell’. In other words a thing shown always has more impact than something said. This is generally the case. In radio however we can’t show anything, there are no pictures, so just about everything has to be said. The rule becomes ‘tell, tell, tell’.

In radio, dialogue has to do much more than in any other dramatic medium. It has to carry the plot forward, portray the characters, place them in time and space, provide the props and paint the scenery. All of this without the advantage of a safety net. Of course dialogue can be aided by sound effects and music but these cannot, on their own, tell the story. They can back up the words and create mood and atmosphere but can’t give us the amount of detail needed to deliver a plot for example.

The job of the writer becomes one of artful manipulation of language to set the scene in a naturalistic way and introduce the required narrative detail while still creating something that sounds like real conversation. This can be very difficult. If Uncle Jack enters and we need to introduce him, the writer must find ways of saying something other than ‘Here comes Uncle Jack’. The best way to do this, as in all revelation of story or back-story, is to find a conflict somewhere in the scene. If for example someone says ‘Here comes that two-faced swindler Uncle Jack’ the listener will be interested without realising he’s being fed necessary information.

When we design our cast we must also be careful not to have characters who are too much alike. In movies and television we can easily see who a character is and rely on sight alone to differentiate between each player. In radio we don’t have that luxury. We have to use voice to set them apart. If, for example, you have written a play or a scene involving three teenage girls from the same background it will be very difficult for the listener to work out who is who.

Without sounding too simplistic it is best to have scenes in which a man talks to woman, or Russian talks to Englishman, or street kid talks to toff etc, etc. This is not always possible and I’m not suggesting you give your characters speech impediments or make them Spanish for no good reason, but clever use of cast design can greatly help your play. My first play for Radio 4, Macmorris, involved four minor characters from Shakespeare’s HenryV. They are all soldiers of about the same age. This could have been a nightmare for radio. However the four are, an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman and an Irishman. They are immediately recognisable by their accents and the audience needs no introduction to understand who they are. In fact I hadn’t planned it that way but discovered the simplicity of this while working on the script. It’s a lesson I haven’t forgotten.

Do not overlook the potential of monologue on radio either. A voice-over narration or a soliloquy takes on new power when delivered by a radio actor directly into our ear. The one-to-one feel of a radio drama can be therefore exploited for dramatic force. There have indeed been successful radio plays for one voice only but I think monologues are best reserved for moments when no other way of driving the story can be found. In that situation, the full power of the monologue and English words can be turned to full dramatic advantage.

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