BBC World Service & British Council launches the 2013 International Radio Playwriting Competition with new co-producers The Open University and the additional Georgi Markov prize

1 October 2013: The only global competition for radio playwrights is being opened for entries today and to submit a script is free. The BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition offers a unique opportunity for writers from all around the globe to use the immense power of radio drama to tell the stories that matter to a world audience.

BBC World Service and British Council run the competition in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. Now in its 24th year, the International Radio Playwriting Competition is expanding to include an additional prize, the Georgi Markov award (1929-1978), in honour of the writer, broadcaster and World Service journalist. The new award is being presented in collaboration with new co-producers The Open University and honours the script from the shortlist which shows most promise.

Neil Webb, Head of Theatre and Dance, British Council says “The British Council is pleased to again be working with the BBC and Commonwealth Writers and to welcome the Open University to the partnership this year. The Competition is an excellent way of sharing diverse opinions, viewpoints and values. It is also a perfect complement to our wider programme to develop new writing talent around the globe.”

Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast Commissioning at The Open University says “The Open University is delighted to co-produce with the World Service this important and unique competition. Creative Writing has been part of the OU’s teaching and learning for a number of years and we are keen to encourage new talent nationally and internationally.”

The competition has two first prizes – one for writers with English as a first language and one for writers with English as a second language. The winners of both awards will have their plays broadcast on BBC World Service. Their prize includes a trip to London to watch their plays being recorded, attendance at an award ceremony and £2,000. The winner of the new Georgi Markov prize will also come to London to be at this award ceremony and spend two weeks with BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service.

Steve Titherington, Senior Commissioner, BBC World Service says “This is the only competition of its kind in the world and entry is free. It’s a fantastic opportunity for writers around the globe to get their voices heard by one of the world’s biggest audiences. Drama that helps tell the story of our audiences around the world is what we seek to place at the heart of the World Service.”

The competition has helped launch the writing careers of many of its winners. Last year’s competition winner Angella Emurwon who won the English as a second language category says “Winning the 2012 Competition was a much needed boost to my confidence to continue to find and develop my voice as a writer and director.” Since winning in February she has co-directed Macbeth at the Ugandan National Theatre, and has begun to develop a new play. The competition has also taken Janet Morrison, winner of the English as a first language prize, in a whole new direction. She has now written her first stage play, and is working on a screenplay of her winning script, The Fisherman which will be broadcast again on 19 October on BBC World Service.

The judging panel will be announced in due course. Previous judges have included Dame Eileen Atkins, Doris Lessing, Roy Williams and Nina Wadia.

Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager, Commonwealth Foundation says “Commonwealth Writers is very excited to be associated with this year’s competition. We look forward to promoting the shortlisted and winning writers and to working with them to inspire less heard voices from across the globe.”

The playwriting competition welcomes scripts from anyone outside the UK, whether established or new writers. The dramas need to be 53 minutes long, but can be on any subject. The closing date for entries is midnight GMT 31 January 2014.

Further details on the competition including how to enter are online at  Throughout the competition BBC World Service will be giving out advice on air for writers looking for inspiration. On social media tips for aspiring playwrights will tweeted via BBC World Service, British Council, Commonwealth Writers and The Open University. Social media users can look for playwritingcompetition on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter at #bbcplay.


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