Sunday, October 31, 2010

Work by Guild members in next seven days

BENNETT ARRON'S account of identity theft It Wasn't Me, It Was Bennett Arron is on at The Radlett Centre on Wednesday 3rd November at 8:00pm. You can book tickets at the box office on 01923859291 or online at

RICHARD BEVAN’S play Trading Faces at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre continues until 6th Nov. The play examines the battle between modern love and a culture of self gratification. Time Out described the play as ‘witty, poignant and salacious’ ‘sharp and touching’ and ‘a great choice for the pub theatre space’
Tickets £12/£10. Box Office Ticketweb 0844477100

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th November.

MARK BURT wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 4th November.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY wrote the episode of Dad's Army "Man Hunt" going out on BBC2 at 6:40pm on Saturday 30th October.

DARREN FAIRHURST wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 3rd November.

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatisation of A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance continues on Radio 4 at 11:00pm on Thursday 4th November.

KULVINDER GILL has a rehearsed reading of the first 10 minutes of his sitcom The Folks on the Hill as part of the Off The Page event at the London Screenwriters Festival on Saturday 30th October at 8:00pm.

JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 5th November.

MARTHA HILLIER wrote the episode of Holby City "Tough, Love" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 2nd November.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 5th November.

JULIAN JONES wrote the episode of Merlin "The Eye of the Phoenix" going out on BBC1 at 7:55pm on Saturday 30th October.

KIKI KENDRICK’s one-woman show Next! will be having it’s first London run 9th-28th Nov 7:30pm (Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday 6.30pm) at the Etcetera Theatre London NW1 7BU. Written and performed by Kiki Kendrick, directed by James Barry for Liberated Theatre.

PENNY LEICESTER'S dramatisation of So Much For That goes continues on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 1st November.

JONATHAN MYERSON'S Number Ten continues on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 1st November.

DAVID NOBBS co-wrote the episode of Reggie Perrin going out on BBC1 at 9:30pm on Thursday 4th November.

LESLEY CLARE O'NEILL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 2nd November.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 4th November.

NICK WARBURTON'S radio play Setting A Glass goes out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 2nd November.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Monday 1st November.

Petition To Save The BBC World Service Drama

A petition has been started to Save The BBC World Service Drama.
On 23rd Sept ’10, the BBC announced that it is axing its world-renowned World Service Drama effective 1st April ’10.

...The strategic, economic and humanitarian case for World Service Drama’s continued existence is overwhelming and undoubtedly well known to the British authorities.

However, World Service Drama has always been a vulnerable and easy target when there is a sacrificial lamb to be had, as most of its 40 million plus worldwide audience is outside the British Isles. As such the listeners cannot have much of a say as stakeholders in the service as their voices are so dispersed around the world. They can only silently lament the far-reaching consequences the decision of the British authorities has on their literary output and intake around the world.

This online petition aims to address this status quo by using current innovative online technology to provide a platform for these voices allowing them to express their grave concern for the fate of their much cherished and loved BBC World Service Drama, which has become an iconic world literary heritage to them.

Meet The Agents in Edinburgh

Meet The Agents

Monday 8th November 6.00 - 9.00 pm

Guild members in Scotland are cordially invited to attend a Meet The Agents event on Monday 8th November at

The Scottish Book Trust
Sandeman House
Trunk's Close
55 High Street

For directions please go to:

Julian Friedmann from the Blake Friedmann Agency in London will be travelling north to meet Guild members and to talk about how to find and agent and to answer any questions.

He will be joined by agents from ASLA (The Scottish Association of Literary Agents):
So come along with your questions to be answered by the panel followed by some informal networking over a glass of wine.

The meeting will be chaired by Allanah O’Sullivan, former Scottish Chair and former president of the Writers' Guild of New Zealand.

The event is free to all Guild members but please contact the new Guild Scottish Chair, Julie Ann Thomason, to let her know if you will be attending:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It’s good, but you’re not a woman

A guest post by Bennett Arron

I’ve recently returned from sell-out shows at the Edinburgh festival. I’m very pleased about this, not only because the shows were well received, but also because people appreciated the subject matter. The show was called Bennett Arron Has Had Enough and in it I spoke about the things which have recently annoyed me. These included: the oxymoron of customer services, being arrested and, most importantly, having my novel turned down because I am a man.

My novel is a romantic comedy. Before it was sent to publishers I asked some well-known friends of mine if they would read it and give me their thoughts. Ricky Gervais, whom by his own admission never reads novels, said it it was ‘funny from beginning to end’. David Baddiel said: ‘A very funny insight into life’ . Jimmy Carr said: ‘It’s the perfect romantic comedy, I loved it.’

The editors to whom it was sent were also very complimentary. I shan’t name the them or the publishing houses, but here are some of the responses….

‘I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It’s a very accomplished piece of fiction and I found it genuinely funny.’

‘…compelling characters….the writing is engaging and the story well crafted.”

‘Very well-observed….very funny.’

So, you might be wondering where you can purchase this book. Well, you can’t. You see, no one will publish it because I am a man.

Here are some of the reasons from the editors:

‘Men writing about romance and relationships doesn’t appeal to the reading public.’

‘Women readers feel that women writers cover this area far more convincingly.’

Is that true? Can such a statement be made? It reminds me of a comment made on a chat show recently where one of the female presenters actually said the words: ‘All men generalise about women and stereotype them’ without any sense of irony.

So this is what I’m up against. If this situation were reversed, if a woman writer were told that no one would buy a particular genre unless it were written by a man there would be cries of sexism and inequality. However it appears that it’s completely acceptable for me to be told this. I don’t know how Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby managed to overcome this prejudice, but I now admire them even more. I also admire their publishers for taking what apparently constitutes a huge risk.

It has of course been suggested that I use a female pseudonym to sell the book, or have a sex change - but I’m not going through that again! My problem is, by using a pseudonym I feel I would be would be conceding to the discrimination. I’ve been asked what’s more important, having my book published or making a point? Well, however much I’d like to see my book published - after all who wants to have two years’ work wasted - I would feel a fraud, on many levels, by changing my name.

Perhaps, and I’m going out on a limb here, attitudes should be changed as opposed to my name. Female friends of mine have read the book and passed it on to their friends, all of whom have loved it.

Some publishers have also suggested, that I write a female protagonist instead of a male one. Why? I have had more 30 sitcom scripts produced on television. The majority of these, ironically, had female leads. I have been given work because I apparently write the female voice very well. However, now that I have decided to write my first novel from a male perspective, I am being penalised.

Well, I’m sorry, but I’d prefer not to use a pseudonym. I’ve already used a false identity once (I was the person who stole the ID of former Home Secretary Charles Clarke and was subsequently arrested) so I won’t be doing it again. If this means you will never have the opportunity to read my novel then there’s nothing I can do. Don’t blame me, blame ‘acceptable’ discrimination. In the meantime I suppose I’ll have to work on a new novel about war, or crime, or cars, as apparently these are the only subjects on which men are able to write.

Bennett Arron will be performing his show It Wasn’t Me, It Was Bennett Arron at the Radlett Centre on 3 November.

Arts Council announces budget cut details

The Arts Council has published details of how the 29.6% cut to its budget announced in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review last week will be implemented over the next four years.
The majority of arts organisations will be given an equal cut which has been kept to 6.9% for 2011/12. This approach keeps the overall percentage cut as low as possible and gives organisations a quick and fair decision. It allows them a degree of relative stability in a very challenging economic climate, particularly in the context of the large cuts to local authority budgets implied in the Spending Review...

Over the four-year period 2011-2015, the percentage budget cut for funded arts organisations will be 14.9%.
More details can be found on the Arts Council website.

The Guardian also has a useful section on arts funding with the latest news, comment and debate.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New BBC Editorial Guidelines

A guest post by Gail Renard, Chair of the Guild's Television Committee

The latest version of the BBC Editorial guidelines have been published. These are the guidelines setting out the standards expected of everyone making or presenting output on BBC TV, radio or online. Upon reading it, my first thought was here’s another statement from the Circumlocution Office saying nothing new but providing lots of BBC modules and courses with which to say it. Then I had another read and guess what? It’s my second thought too.

The basic Editorial Guide is a sound one, laying out the principles, values and standards that everyone employed by the BBC should know. It also emphasises using one’s own best judgement and taking advice from senior people in tricky situations. Fair play so far. But then I made the mistake of reading on.

There are modules covering everything; including competitions, conflicts of interests and misleading audiences. If employees really need to be told don’t cheat your audiences or advertise your Granddad’s corner shop on the Ten O’Clock News, then maybe the job interviews aren’t as stringent as one hoped.

The BBC Academy also has 20 new online, interactive learning modules, including quizzes and hypothetical scenarios for people to learn these guidelines. I got 30 seconds into one when a stallholder, Blue Peter-style, held up signs that spelled out T R U S T. Don’t they think they’re setting the bar rather low?

Would that all that money had gone into production budgets, which are being slashed daily. Now that the licence fee is to be frozen for the next six years it’s more important than ever that the money for productions is ring-fenced. And the last thing that creatives need are more execs taking more courses that will produce another 100 sets of notes emanating from fear and back-covering; totally kicking any originality or life out of a show.

We all know that this is the fallout over Jonathan Ross and Sachsgate, as Russell Brand explained to a bemused Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight only last week. The issue isn’t about producing more guidelines or impediments to good programme making. It’s about following the basic, commonsensical guidelines that already exist and, in a very few cases, clearly weren’t observed. Heads rolled. Let’s move on but without crash helmets to cross the corridor.

Yes the issue is all about trust. If the BBC hires someone (the greatest honour in this industry, I think) then they should be certain that the person already is trustworthy, and possesses common sense, experience and as much intelligence as he/ she can muster on a good day. But please don’t tell me Dr Who has to wear a seatbelt in the Tardis. I’ll cry.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Work by Guild members in next seven days

CAREY ANDREWS wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 26th October.

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 27th October.

GARY BROWN'S fictionalised account of real events surrounding a Middle Eastern plot to kill the British Foreign Secretary just after the Second World War goes out on Radio 4 at 2:30pm on Saturday 23rd October.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY wrote the episode of Dad's Army "Branded" going out on BBC2 at 7:45pm on Saturday 23rd October.

CHRIS FEWTRELL wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 25th October.

JOHN FOSTER'S Five Go Killing is on at the Lighthouse Studio, Poole on Saturday 30th October at 4:30pm. Tickets are £6 (£4 concessions), to book call the box office on 08444068666 or go to for more information.

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatisation of A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance continues on Radio 4 at 11:00pm on Thursday 28th October.

LISA HOLDSWORTH wrote the episode of New Tricks "Coming Out Ball" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Friday 29th October.

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 28th October.

PETER KERRY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 26th October.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 29th October.

PENNY LEICESTER'S dramatisation of So Much for That begins on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 25th October.

DARAN LITTLE wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Friday 29th October.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Thursday 28th October.

ROLAND MOORE was creator and lead writer of Land Girls, which begins a repeat run of its first series stripped across the week from Monday 25th October to Friday 29th October at 2:15pm on BBC1.

JONATHAN MYERSON'S Number Ten begins a new series on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 25th October.

DAVID NOBBS c0-wrote the episode of Reggie Perrin going out on BBC1 at 9:30pm on Thursday 28th October.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 29th October.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 25th October.

PATREA SMALLACOMBE wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 26th, Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th October.

TIM STIMPSON wrote the episodes of The Archers on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 24th till Friday 29th October. Each episode is repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broad cast.

ANDREW S. WALSH wrote the English version of the new Professor Layton animated film Professor Layton and The Eternal Diva available now on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Writers' Compass

The Writer’s Compass is the new name for the National Association of Writers in Education's (NAWE) professional development services for writers. It brings together NAWE’s professional development programme with the free information and advice services for all writers formerly offered by 'literaturetraining'.

They offer a range of services including events, training, one-to-one support, information and resources.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guild's response to Comprehensive Spending Review

The effect of the coalition’s spending review on subsidised arts and culture was overshadowed by bizarre last-minute horse-trading between the Government and the BBC, resulting in a six-year licence-fee freeze and a real-terms cut of 16% in the BBC’s budget.

The BBC will take over funding the World Service, the Welsh language channel S4C and BBC Monitoring, which logs and translates many overseas radio stations. £300 million of licence-fee money will also be used to pay for high-speed broadband in remote areas.

Although the BBC said it was 'happy' with the outcome, that has to be seen in the context of the alternative, which was funding the £556 million-a-year cost of free TV licences for people over 75.

Writers’ Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: 'For two years the BBC has taken a tough and principled stand against licence-fee 'top-slicing' but in less than two days it has caved in and accepted responsibility for funding a range of services that most licence-fee payers never use.

'A settlement that would normally be subject to exhaustive public consultation and debate has been stitched up behind closed doors in a matter of hours. I suspect the BBC – and the British public – will repent at leisure.'

Meanwhile Arts Council England has been left to struggle with immediate cuts of 14% to grant-funded organisations – the dreaded 'front-loading' that could put a fatal strain on many subsidised theatres and other organisations. More cuts will follow in later years. ACE chief executive Alan Davey put a brave face on things but had to admit: 'These cuts will inevitably have a significant impact on the cultural life of the country.'

There is a 15% cut for the Public Lending Right scheme, which will inevitably mean a reduction in the 6p per loan paid to the authors of library books, but it is not yet clear how the scheme will be administered as the PLR agency is to be abolished.

It is also unclear so far whether ACE will take on responsibility for government funding of the film insustry following abolition of the UK Film Council. Further details about the impact of the spending review are expected to emerge tomorrow and in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No culture please, we're British

The Writers’ Guild and the Society of Authors have received a brush-off in response to protests about the cancellation of all BBC World Service radio drama.

Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News, said in a letter (pdf) to the two unions: 'BBC World Service has to respond to the challenges of an increasingly tough financial climate and an increasingly competitive global media market. Primarily, audiences come to BBC World Service for news and information and analysis of major global issues.'

In March this year the post of Director of BBC World Service was abolished and the duties added to Horrocks’ s job description. Since then 'BBC World Service' has apparently been regarded as a brand name within the BBC Global News division.

Writers’ Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett commented: 'Only a few years ago the BBC World Service offered a complete range of British arts, science, culture and entertainment. Today all that remains is a rolling news service – one among hundreds. Once Britain wanted to share with the world its language, its drama, its music, its comedy, its science. The most distinctive thing left is the pips.'

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Writers’ Toolkit 2010 – Birmingham

The Writers’ Toolkit 2010 – Writer Networking Conference
Saturday 20th November 2010, 10.30am – 4pm

South Birmingham College, High Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 5SU

Cost: £32 (£26 concession)

Deadline for booking: Friday 12th November, 2010

Full details on the Writing West Midlands website.

The Conference

This is the third annual gathering for emerging and established writers and anyone working in the creative writing industry. The Writers’ Toolkit offers opportunities to learn about aspects of the business of being a writer and to network with others working in the creative writing industry through a mixture of panel discussions and Q&A sessions.

The Writers’ Toolkit will open with a keynote address from the distinguished novelist Jim Crace. Other speakers will include playwrights David Edgar, Nick Walker and Naylah Ahmed, novelists Mike Gayle, Graham Joyce, Ian MacLeod, Roger Ellory, Paul McDonald, Helen Cross and Chris McCabe, broadcast journalist Sue Beardsmore, poets David Morley (University of Warwick), Mandy Ross, Brenda Read-Brown and Roz Goddard, and representing the writing industry (and also writers in many cases) Kate Chapman (Theatre Writing Partnership), Jo Bell (National Poetry Day), David Hunter (BBC Radio), Carol Harding (BBC Television), Philip Gwyn-Jones (Portobello Books), Irenson Okojie (Apples & Snakes), Luke Brown (Tindal Street Press), Catherine Clarke (Felicity Bryan Agency), Caroline Jester (Birmingham Rep), Paul Munden (National Association of Writers in Education), Bernie Corbett (Writers’ Guild of Great Britain), Lucy Macnab (Southbank Centre), Chris Unitt (Mashed Media), Antonia Byatt (Arts Council England), Ros Robins (Arts Council England West Midlands), Ceri Gorton (Arts Council England West Midlands) and Dr Patricia Stafford (Newman University College). Also involved are poet and psychiatrist Femi Oyebode (University of Birmingham), writer Eugene Egan, Damien Walters (The Literature Network), Catherine Rogers (Writing East Midlands), Steve Dearden (National Association for Literature Development), Shreela Ghosh (Free Word Centre, London), Peggy Riley (East Kent Live Literature), Malcolm Dewhirst (Polesworth Poets Trail), Tony Taylor (Anthony Taylor Accountants), Lara Ratnaraja (Business Link), Julia Bird (Jaybird Productions), Roy McFarlane (Birmingham Poet Laureate 2010/11) and Naomi Alsop (University of Warwick).

A total of sixteen panel discussions will include Writing for Broadcast, Writing and Health, Real Writing Lives, Understanding Publishing, Writing and Education, Writers’ Rights, Doing Digital, Writing and Science, The Business of Writing, New Theatre Writing, Writing and Higher Education, Building Audiences for Poetry and many more. A full programme will be provided before the conference.

Work by Guild members in next seven days

RICHARD BEVAN’S first commissioned stage play is at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre, 19th Oct – 6th Nov. Trading Faces examines the battle between modern love and a culture of self-gratification. Even in a world of mobile phones and emails, affairs aren’t always easy to hide from partners. In a society that encourages everyone to have it all, are we in danger of losing sight of what’s really important? Tickets £12/£10. Box Office 0844477100.

A Medal for Murder by FRANCES BRODY (aka Frances McNeil) is published in paperback by Piatkus/Little Brown on 7th Octber. Set in Harrogate in 1922, this is the second in the Kate Shackleton Mystery series.

Frances will be doing lunchtime signings at Waterstone's, Leeds on 16th October; Waterstone's, Lancaster on 23rd October; and Waterstone's, Harrogate on 30th October. Frances will be speaking at Waterstone's in the Wool Exchange, Bradford, at 6.30pm on Thursday 28th October. See for details.

MARK BURT wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Monday 18th October.

JADEN CLARK wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Friday 22nd October.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY co-wrote the episode of Dad's Army "Menace from the Deep" going out on BBC2 at 7:30pm on Saturday 16th October.

SIMON CROWTHER wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 22nd October.

North East playwright FIONA EVANS’S new play premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough this autumn. Tense and thrilling, The Price of Everything calculates the price we pay for material possessions and the effect it has on our loved ones. The Price of Everything stars Andrew Dunn, who appeared in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies; Julie Riley, who recently starred in Amateur Girl for Hull Truck Theatre; and 17-year-old rising star Jodie Comer. Tickets cost between £10 and £20, with student tickets just £7, and can be booked by calling the box office on 01723 370541 or online at

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatisation of A Charles Paris Mystery: Cast in Order of Disappearance goes out on Radio 4 at 11:00pm on Thursday 21st October.

HENRIETTA HARDY wrote the episode of Doctors on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 19th October.

ROB JOHNSTON'S blackly comic play Under My Skin is being produced by Breathe Out Theatre at Studio Salford 13th-16th Oct at 8:oopm. Tickets from

NEIL JONES wrote the episode of Waterloo Road going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Wednesday 20th October.

DAVID LANE wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 22nd October.

PAUL LAVERTY wrote the screenplay for Route Irish and it was directed by Ken Loach. It will be screened as part of the London Film Festival on 23rd October.

JESSICA LEA wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd October.

MIKE LEIGH'S new film, Another Year, will have its UK premier simultaneously at cinemas around the country on Monday 18th October at 6:45pm for 7:00pm start. The premiere is the Centerpiece Gala at this year's London Film Festival, hosted by the Mayor of London. The screening will be followed by an onstage Q&A, live via satellite, with Mike Leigh and cast members Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 20th October.

JAN McBRIDE has won an international literature prize, the "Lit Award Ruhr Oberhausen 2010" with her short story Tiny Fingers, Tiny Toes.

DAVID NOBBS co-wrote the episode of Reggie Perrin going out on BBC1 at 9:30pm on Thursday 21st October.

JANE PEARSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm Monday 18th October.

ALISTAIR RUTHERFORD'S feature-length science-fiction screenplay, Backflip, is one of the two winners of the latest Wildsound Feature Screenplay Contest. On Saturday 16th October both winning scripts have their first acts read through by professional actors in a public event at the National Film Board of Canada in Toronto. The reading is filmed and put on the internet. The winner of a subsequent audience and online vote then has a full read-through in a similar event in December.

KATHRINE SMITH wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 18th October.

BILL TAYLOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 22nd October.

JAN WOOLF'S book Fugues on a Funny Bone was launched on Tuesday 12th October at Daunt Books in Holland Park, West London. "Witty, poignant and penetrating, Jan Woolf's collection of stories takes the reader on an episodic journey through the interlinking lives of children and adults in a small London education 'unit' for troubled children. From a Hackney towpath to a day trip to Albania, she covers subjects as disparate as physics, communism and pornography...".

JUSTIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Holby City "Shifts" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 19th October.

KARIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Thursday 21st October.

Top producer laments radio drama cuts

From The Stage:
Former World Service drama head Gordon House has lamented the broadcaster’s decision to axe the 14 plays it broadcasts annually, claiming they provide a global showcase of the UK’s writing and acting talent.

The plays form the majority of the station’s regular drama output and House, who worked as the station’s head of drama until 2000, described the World Service’s decision to axe the plays from 2011 as “very sad”. He claimed actors and writers would lose a valuable source of employment as a result.

Public Lending Right Agency written off by Coalition

The Public Lending Right agency, which pays authors 6p per loan when books are borrowed from public libraries, is a notable casualty of the coalition government’s slaughter of the quangos, announced today.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, issued a strong hint that as well as abolishing the agency, the actual cash fund used to pay writers is likely to be slashed in next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Read Vaizey’s letter to the Guild here (pdf).

The Writers’ Guild understands that the operational side of the PLR scheme will be transferred to Arts Council England, which will also inherit responsibility for film finance from the doomed UK Film Council, and the responsibilities of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in special legislation to be rushed through before the end of this month.

Writers’ organisations reacted immediately to the news by seeking an urgent meeting with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. As a result representatives of the Writers’ Guild, Society of Authors and Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society will have talks with a senior civil servant on 27 October.

Writers’ Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: 'Only six months ago the Digital Economy Act was passed, promising to extend PLR to ebook and audiobook loans. Now we can forget all that, and it seems clear that even the miserable 6p per loan that authors receive is to be cut – having already been frozen for three years.

'We have no idea what is to become of the PLR agency, which is a model service provider and has developed world-leading expertise and spread the gospel of PLR around the globe. They have a small office and staff in Stockton-on-Tees – an unemployment black-spot – and have cut to the bone in previous rounds of efficiency savings.

'I believe this latest move is just a bit of headline-grabbing that will scarcely save a penny of taxpayers’ money. My sympathies are with the incomparable PLR registrar Dr Jim Parker and his staff, who must now be deeply worried about their future.'

Maureen Duffy, the novelist, poet, historian and former Writers’ Guild president, was the leading light of the campaign that led to the establishment of PLR more than 30 years ago. She commented today: 'If I could think of anywhere to go, I would feel like leaving the country.'

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guild tells Hunt of screenwriters' concerns

Olivia Hetreed, Chair of the Film Committee of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, has written to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to express concerns about a range of issues relating to screenwritng in the UK. The main body of the letter is set out below:
The Guild has a number of concerns which we strongly feel should be addressed in rethinking government support for British film-making.

We applaud your commitment to maintaining the current levels of funding and the tax credits, which have proven to be very workable for all sides.

We would urge you to ensure that the new funding arrangements recognise the importance of screenwriters in the film making process by maintaining development funding for screenwriters, and in particular that direct access for screenwriters is protected.

It is important that writers can continue to access such funding without necessarily having a third party (producer or director) attached. This has been a key feature of funding from UKFC, British Screen, and the BFI. The significance of direct funding is that it allows writers to hold onto their Intellectual Property rights in projects that they have created and initiated, maintain some control in the process of development and ensure that the development monies intended for writing the screenplay go fairly to the screenwriter and not elsewhere.

We believe that funding for experimental film-making and new work should be robustly protected, with a discrete fund and gatekeepers.

We feel that it is essential for screenwriters to have a voice at board level on the new body, in the same way that producers and directors were represented at board level at the UKFC. So we request that there is at least one screenwriter on the new board, selected in consultation with the WGGB and other interested parties.

It is also essential that the issue of film-makers’ creative rights should be addressed hand in hand with the principle of producers holding on to the returns from films. The present situation regarding creative rights is deeply unsatisfactory, since it prevents the creators from benefitting from the success of their work and sustaining the long term future of the creative industries in this country.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you or one of your team to discuss these and other matters of interest.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dave Cohen on the Comedy Store Players

On Chortle, Guild member Dave Cohen reflects on 25 years of the Comedy Store Players and wonders whatever happened to Mike Myers.
Are you aware that Sunday October 31 is the 25th anniversary of the first ever show by the Comedy Store Players? Probably not. The Players don’t do big anniversaries, just get on with their job, and will perform twice in that week, same as they’ve been doing for years. The 31st will be just one more Sunday, to add to the tally of 1,300 previous Sundays: no big name guests, no TV cameras. You’re unlikely to be reading much about this milestone in comedic achievement elsewhere.

I, however, shall be milking it for all it’s worth. After all, I was one of the founding members, and even if I left after just six months... OK, even if I was sacked after just six months, I was still there at the start.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BBC drama chief questions Sky's commitment to homegrown drama

By John Plunkett in Media Guardian:
The BBC drama chief, Ben Stephenson, has criticised BSkyB's commitment to homegrown drama and has labelled as a "myth" the common refrain that US television is better at making drama than its UK counterparts.

Stephenson said Sky's spend on UK drama was dwarfed by the BBC's drama budget and also by the amount the satellite broadcaster ploughs into acquiring foreign shows.

The corporation's head of drama commissioning, writing in the new issue of Radio Times, said US television's "commercial model" meant it would not be able to come up with recent BBC hits such as Sherlock or Five Daughters because they were committed to producing long-run series.

Monday, October 11, 2010

All about e-books - new Guild podcast

In the latest of our podcasts, author and Guild member Helen Smith is joined by Linda Bennet and Graham Taylor of the Publishers Association to discuss e-Books with WGGB Editor Tom Green and Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett.

What's the current state of the e-book market? Which devices and formats are likely to prevail? To what extent will e-books change the relationship between publishers and writers? How can writers publish e-books themselves?

You can listen online here: or find the podcast on i-Tunes. There's also an app for the i-Phone and i-Pad.

A transcript of the discussion will be made available as soon as possible.

The Virginia Prize for Fiction

A guest post by Guild member Cheryl Robson

Aurora Metro is an independent publisher originally established in 1989 by a group of women writers based at The Drill Hall Arts Centre in London. To celebrate our twentieth anniversary in publishing last year, we wanted to create a project that would both reflect our humble beginnings as a company and give something back to the world of books.

Today we are based in a building that was once a stable, in the leafy borough of Richmond, so we looked to our local literary heritage for ideas. We noticed that Virginia and Leonard Woolf had once lived in Paradise Road in Richmond and had set up the Hogarth Press there.

In 1915, Virginia Woolf published the first of her novels, The Voyage Out, while living in Paradise Road. She not only went on to make a significant contribution to modern literature but has continued to be an inspiration to women writers around the world.

We came up with the idea of establishing the Virginia Prize for Fiction and were granted permission from The Estate of Virginia Woolf to name the prize in her honour. The competition is open to women writers over the age of 18, who have written a full-length unpublished novel in English. Writers who have had work previously published are eligible to apply. With sponsorship from a local company, ea Consulting Group, we were able to launch the prize in July 2009.

Remarkably, we received over 120 entries from all over the world, and we set about the enormous task of reading and writing reports on the many scripts that arrived through the post on a daily basis. Over a period of four months we managed to long-list around 30 of the submitted manuscripts and then came the difficult process of reducing that number to a short- list of five.

In November 2009, we invited the short-listed authors to The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond as part of the Book Now Literary Festival where the winning novel Pomegranate Sky was finally announced. Debut author, Louise Soraya Black was presented with a cheque for £1000 and a lighthouse shaped award by novelist Fay Weldon.

Black had spent six years previously writing and rewriting her novel, while battling
with ME. She had also worked as a lawyer in the City for seven years before leaving to have her first child. She later described the experience of winning the Prize as a ‘life-changing moment’.

In Pomegranate Sky, Black tells a complex story from the viewpoints of the main female characters in an unexpectedly accomplished way. Black, who is from a British Iranian background, and has lived in Iran, sets the novel in post-revolutionary Tehran and focuses on the story of Layla, who refuses to bow to the ayatollahs’ rules, resisting her mother’s relentless attempts to find her a suitable husband. Instead, she embarks on an illicit affair with her art teacher, Keyvan, which leads to love, loss and the revelation of dark family secrets.

In January, next year we will be accepting entries for the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2011 and will be hoping to discover and promote other remarkable new voices to enrich the literary landscape of fiction in the UK.

You can meet Louise Soraya Black on 23rd October at the Guildford Literary Festival or on November 6th at Orleans House, Twickenham as part of Richmond’s Book Now Literary Festival 2010 where she will be in conversation with journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

How children lost out from ITV cuts

In The Yorkshire Post, writer and producer Colin Ward explains why the Save Kids TV campaign (which the Writers' Guild supports) believes that ITV's decision to stop making children's programmes in 2006 has been so damaging.
Save Kids TV was set up in the wake of the closure of ITV's children's production department. It's a coalition of producers, parents, educational experts and academics, who work together to highlight the importance of quality, UK-produced children's media. Although Save Kids TV is campaigning for a return to the levels of investment in children's media we had back in the 1990s, [writer and campaigner, Jayne] Kirkham insists it's not a backward-looking organisation.

"We are not interested in nostalgia and we don't want to return to some ideal world of children's TV that, in reality, never existed. But the audience viewing figures clearly demonstrate that children want to watch television made in the UK and, at the moment, their only real option for that mix of programming is the BBC. We think it's time society started investing in young people." Save Kids' TV argues that UK-produced children's media is uniquely valuable, because it is the only age-appropriate content that reflects the language and life experiences of British children. Ten years ago, that's exactly what ITV was doing very successfully.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Writers’ Guild Awards 2010 – shortlists announced

The Writers’ Guild has announced the shortlists for its annual awards, with nominations in 14 categories. The winners will be announced at a reception on Sunday 21 November 2010.

The Guild awards, dating from 1961, are cherished accolades as they are the only ones in which writers are honoured by their peers. Recipients of special or lifetime awards over the years have included Lord (Ted) Willis, John Osborne, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Dennis Potter and Alan Plater.

Here are the shortlists in full:

Best Original Screenplay
  • Kick-Ass - Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
  • Looking For Eric - Paul Laverty
  • Four Lions - Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell

Best First Feature-Length Screenplay
  • The Hide - Tim Whitnall
  • Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll - Paul Viragh
  • Moon - Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker
Best Television Drama Series
  • Doctor Who - Steven Moffat, Toby Whithouse, Simon Nye, Mark Gatiss, Chris Chibnall
  • Being Human - Toby Whithouse
  • Ashes To Ashes - Ashley Pharoah, Matthew Graham, Julie Rutterford, Tom Butterworth, Chris Hurford, Jack Lothian, James Payne
Best Television Comedy/ Light Entertainment
  • The Thick Of It - Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Ian Martin, Sean Gray, Will Smith Roger Drew
  • Peep Show - Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell
  • Getting On - Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan, Vicki Pepperdine
Best Television Short-Form Drama
  • Small Island - Paula Milne, Sarah Williams
  • Occupation - Peter Bowker
  • Five Daughters - Stephen Butchard
Best Television Continuing Drama
  • Coronation Street - Peter Whalley, Carmel Morgan, David Lane, Mark Wadlow, Chris Fewtrell, Jayne Hollinson, Martin Allen, Lucy Gannon, Mark Burt, John Kerr, Damon Rochefort, Julie Jones, Jonathan Harvey, Simon Crowther, Joe Turner, Debbie Oates, Daran Little, Stephen Russell, Jan McVerry
  • Holby City - Tony McHale, Dana Fainaru, Martha Hillier, Chris Murray, David Lawrence, Justin Young, Veronica Henry, Peter Lloyd, Joe Ainsworth, Abi Bown, Andrew Holden, Ian Kershaw, Graham Mitchell, Sebastian Baczkiewicz, Rob Williams, Al Smith, Claire Bennett, Jake Riddell, Nick Warburton, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Rebecca Wojciechowski, Tom Bidwell, Dan Sefton, Mark Catley, Paul Mari, Nick Fisher, Sally Abbott
  • Casualty - Jason Sutton, Fiona Evans, Suzie Smith, Sasha Hails, Gert Thomas, Justin Young, Martin Jameson, Michael Levine, Paul Logue, Daisy Coulam, Mark Catley, Dana Fainaru, Tom Bidwell, Karen Laws, Rachel Flowerday, Ellen Taylor, Sally Tatchell, Abi Bown, Paul Mari, Jeff Povey, Mark Cairns, Sally Abbott, Rob Williams, Stephen Keyworth, David Bowker, Deborah Jones, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Richard Monks
Best Children’s Television Drama/Comedy - live action or animation
  • Shaun the Sheep - Richard Goleszowski, Rob Dudley, Glenn Dakin, Lucy Daniel Raby, Elly Brewer, Jimmy Hibbert, Will MacLean, John Camm, Lee Pressman, Julie Jones, Dan Berlinka, Andy Williams, David Ingham, Richard Vincent, Patrick Makin, Chris Sadler, Kieron Self, Giles New, James Henry, Nick Park, Kay Stonham, Sarah Ball, Ian Carney, Mark Daydy, Craig Ferguson, Patrick Gallagher
  • Horrible Histories - Giles Pilbrow, Dave Cohen, Stephen Punt, Laurence Rickard,Ben Ward, Jon Holmes
  • Tracy Beaker Returns - Emma Reeves, Jonathan Evans, Steven Turner, Elly Brewer, Jonathan Wolfman, Ben Ward
Best Theatre Play
  • Jerusalem - Jez Butterworth
  • Enron - Lucy Prebble
  • Dunsinane - David Greig
Best Play for Children and Young People
  • The Monster Under The Bed - Kevin Dyer
  • Time For The Good Looking Boy - Michael Wicherek
  • The Scarecrow - Mike Kenny
Best Radio Drama
  • Wake - Katie Hims
  • Number 10 - Jonathan Myerson
  • Bad Faith - Peter Jukes
Best Radio Comedy/Light Entertainment
  • Party - Tom Basden
  • Cabin Pressure - John Finnemore
  • Mark Steel’s In Town - Mark Steel
Best Videogame Script
  • Red Dead Redemption - Dan Houser, Mike Unsworth
  • Risen - Andrew S. Walsh, Rhianna Pratchett, James Leach
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum - Paul Crocker
Best Non-Fiction Book
  • Beauty And Atrocity - Joshua Levine
  • A Crisis Of Brilliance - David Boyd Haycock
  • This Party’s Got To Stop - Rupert Thomson
Best Fiction Book
  • Corrag - Susan Fletcher
  • The Spider Truces - Tom Connolly
  • A Life Apart - Neel Mukherjee

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Against Aristotle

On The Guardian Theatre Blog, Steve Waters laments the popularity of Aristotle's theory of drama:
Poetics' fatal flaw (to borrow an Aristotelian term) is that it's an outsider's view of writing. All too often Aristotle's inventory of conventions is mimicked, as if plays were no more than the sum of their parts, and the author a phrenologist detecting a criminal from the shape of their skull. Generations of playwrights and critics have rummaged through Poetics' checklist of elements hoping to find a readymade framework for their plays or analyses.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Radio award winners

The winners of the annual Imison Award and Tinniswood Award for radio drama have been announced at a reception in London compered by leading radio producer Gordon House.

The Tinniswood Award

Honouring the best original radio drama script broadcast in 2009, the Tinniswood Award went to Ivan And The Dogs by Hattie Naylor

Also shortlisted were:
  • The Moment You Feel It by Ed Harris
  • Cry Babies by Kim Newman
  • Vent by Nigel Smith
  • People Snogging In Public Places by Jack Thorne
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, and the judges were Sheila Goff, John Tydeman and Katharine Way. The Award is administered by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

The Imison Award

Honouring the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio, broadcast in 2009, the Imison Award went to The Road Wife by Eoin McNamee

Also shortlisted were:
  • The Lady Of Kingsland Waste by J Parkes (Highly Commended)
  • Trying by Erin Browne
  • Fifteen by Deborah Wain
The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. It is judged by members of the Society of Authors’ Broadcasting Committee (David Docherty (Chair), Mike Bartlett, Nazrin Choudhury, Alison Joseph, Nell Leyshon, Karen Liebreich, Sue Limb, Karl Sabbagh, Colin Teevan and Nick Warburton).

Radio drama cuts

Speaking at the awards reception to an audience containing many of the UK's leading radio drama executives, as well as the new Controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, Gordon House lamented the recent cuts to drama output on BBC Radio 4 and the cessation of drama output for BBC World Service. The guest speaker, Rose Tremain, echoed these sentiments and also called for more 90-minute drama time-slots to be made available.

Gordon House, Hattie Naylor, Rose Tremain, Eoin McNamee and Gwyneth Williams
(Photo: Alison Baxter)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Work by Guild members in next seven days

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 8th October.

DAVID ASHTON'S dramatisation of Emma Smith's fictionalised memoir Maidens' Trip goes out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Friday 8th October.

DAVID CROFT and JIMMY PERRY wrote the episode of Dad's Army "The Day the Balloon Went Up" going out on ITV1 at 6:00pm on Saturday 2nd October.

RICHARD DAVIDSON wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 7th and at 8:00pm on Friday 8th October.

CHRIS FEWTRELL wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Monday 4th October.

JIMMY GARDNER wrote the episode of Inspector George Gently "Peace and Love" which concludes on BBC1 at 8:30pm on Sunday 3rd October.

MARTIN JAMESON'S radio play, in four parts, Stone continues with part two, Collateral Damage, going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Wednesday 6th October.

ROB JOHNSTON'S stage-play Einstein's Daughter comes to the Hyde Festival Theatre 28th Sept - 2th Oct at 7:45pm following a north-west tour. Tickets at

NEIL JONES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 4th October.

RICHARD McBRIEN wrote the episode of Spooks going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 4th October.

GRAHAM MITCHELL wrote the episode of Holby City "Revelations" going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 5th October.

DAVID NOBBS co-wrote the episode of Reggie Perrin going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Wednesday 6th October. His radio comedy series The Maltby Collection continues on Radio 4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 6th October.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 7th October.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 6th October.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 8th October.

NICOLA WILSON wrote the episode of Casualty "Into the Fog" going out on BBC1 at 8:40pm on Saturday 2nd October 2nd.

FSE Newsletter - September

The September issue of the Federation of European Screenwriters (FSE) newsletter is now available (pdf, or read on screen below).

In this issue you'll find short articles on:
  • Screenwriters at film festivals, an article by Guy Hibbert
  • 1st Meeting of Spanish Screenwriters
  • New film academy in Belgium
  • Awards and festivals (calendar)

Are e-books over-hyped?

In Technology Review Christopher Mims argues that the death of the book has been greatly exaggerated.
Tech pundits recently moved up the date for the death of the book, to sometime around 2015, inspired largely by the rapid adoption of the iPad and the success of Amazon's Kindle e-reader. But in their rush to christen a new era of media consumption, have the pundits overreached?

I'm calling the peak of inflated expectations now. Get ready for the next phase of the hype cycle - the trough of disillusionment.

The signs of a hype bubble are all around us. Mostly in the form of irrational exuberance.
We'll be discussing e-books in the next Writers' Guild podcast - available soon.