The global competition, hosted by BBC World Service and the British Council, offers the unique opportunity for writers to use the medium of audio drama to tell stories for an international audience.
We are looking for entries in the two categories: English As A First Language and English As A Second Language. Two writers will win an invitation to attend an award ceremony in London and will get the remarkable opportunity to see their plays being recorded for broadcast and streaming on BBC World Service. A Special Commendation will be made for a runner-up in honour of the BBC World Service journalist and writer Georgi Markov (1929-1978).
The two winners can come from either category and there will also be regional winners named to showcase the best writing from across the globe.
The last competition in 2019/20 attracted 850 entries from 104 countries, with regional winners coming from Colombia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.
The winner in the First Language category was The Snowman, written by Neil Flynn from Ireland. It is a lyrical monologue about an Antarctic explorer’s desperate attempts to make it back to base camp. In the Second Language category, Ainur Karim from Kazakhstan won with her comedy The Passport, which is set against a backdrop of social unrest and a family in upheaval.
Looking for fully-funded opportunities, install the Youth Opportunities Android or iOS App here.
Ross Mueller from Australia won the Georgi Markov commendation with The Birthday Cake, a dark comedy focusing on the wife of a white supremacist.
After delays caused by the global pandemic the BBC is looking forward to welcoming Ainur Karim and Neil Flynn to the BBC in December, to record their winning entries for broadcast on BBC World Service in February next year, when they will be available online to listen and download.
Simon Pitts, Commissioning Editor BBC World Service English, says: “The competition offers a unique opportunity. Two winning writers will have their stories performed by our teams for broadcast to BBC World Service’s millions of listeners. It’s a prestigious prize which promotes original storytellers and places their voices onto the World Service network alongside some of the best UK drama productions including U.Me: The Musical; Miriam And Youssef; and Fall Of The Shah.”
Neil Webb, Director Theatre and Dance, British Council, says: “This competition is an important part of the British Council’s programme of developing new playwrights around the world, discovering new talent, and helping global artists find new opportunities.
“Sharing stories is a powerful way for us to connect with different cultures and difficult issues. Every competition we hear original voices with extraordinary stories to tell from all corners of the globe – including from people who wouldn’t have considered themselves playwrights before. I look forward to reading the fresh voices and inventive scripts for this year’s competition.”
The shortlisted scripts and judging panel will be announced in due course. Previous judges have included Kwame Kwei Armah, Dame Eileen Atkins, Doris Lessing, Roy Williams, Patricia Cumper and Nina Sosanya.
The International Radio Playwriting Competition welcomes scripts from anyone outside the UK, whether established or new writers. The dramas need to be 53 minutes long and can be on any subject. The closing date for entries is midnight (GMT) on 12 February 2023.
- Both winners will attend an award ceremony in London and see their plays being recorded for broadcast and streaming on BBC World Service. A Special Commendation will be made for the runner-up in honour of the BBC World Service journalist and writer Georgi Markov (1929-1978).
- “Prize”: The Cash Prize and the Trip
“The Cash Prize”: £2,500 sterling (or the equivalent in a local currency at the BBC’s discretion)
“The Trip”: a trip to London (standard airfare and accommodation for one person) to see the winning play being recorded and attend a prize-giving event
- The competition is only open to writers outside of the UK.
- Entrants must also be over the age of 18 as of 12 February 2023.
Eligible Regions: outside of UK
- Entry is only open to anyone who at 12 February 2023 is (a) over the age of 18 and (b) not considered to be a resident of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man (“UK”). Professional and previously published writers are eligible to enter, but this is not a requirement of entry. We may require proof of eligibility.
- Entrants must not be BBC, BBC Group company, or British Council employees, close relatives of such employees or any person connected to the competition. Proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested.
- Entrants should write a radio play of approximately fifty three minutes’ length on any subject of their choice.
- The entrants warrant, by submitting plays, that each play:
- is the original work of the entrants
- is not an adaptation of an earlier work (for example, a novel)
- will not have been professionally produced in any medium (an informal play-reading is acceptable; a play-reading with a professional director and in front of a non-paying audience is acceptable, but a performance involving payment to actors and/or a paying audience is not) before 31 March 2024
- will not have been offered for publication, performance or broadcast or produced in any other form or medium to any other person or company before 31 March 2024, and
- will not have been entered for any other competition before 31 March 2024.
A breach of these warranties will result in disqualification from the competition.
- The winning playwrights will be deemed to have entered into an undertaking not to accept offers for their entries from other broadcasters or publishers before 31 March 2024.
- All scripts submitted must be approximately 53 minutes in length – this usually equates to a minimum of 45 pages of A4 paper (or equivalent) and a maximum of 65 pages (note, a rough guide is a minute per page; please read and time your play before you send it). The play should have a maximum of six central characters (there may be up to 3 small “doubling” characters too, who don’t have more than a few lines each). There must be no central roles for children. Word count approx. 9000-10000 words.
- Your script should be accompanied by a short synopsis which outlines the complete story of the play. This must be no more than 400 words.
- There are two categories for entry. One is for entrants who speak English as a first language, and the other is for entrants with English as a second language. The BBC may require proof of eligibility for the selected category before announcing a winner. For translated entries, it is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that the translated script fully complies with these rules and entry requirements, and the entrant must have the right to enter into a contract on the translator or translators’ behalf as per Rule 14. No additional payment can be made by the BBC for translations.
- The play must be written substantially or entirely in English. Unfortunately, we do not have the facility to offer a translation service. Entries that have been translated must acknowledge this fact by giving a credit to the translator or translators. Entries that have been translated will be entered in the English as a first language category.
- The competition opens on 24 October 2022 and closes on 12 February 2023. Entries must be received by midnight GMT on 12 February 2023. Entries received after this time will not be considered. Entrants are responsible for checking the equivalent closing time based on the time zones for their location.
- Entries must be submitted in one of the following ways:
- By post to the following address: International Playwriting Competition 2023, BBC Radio Drama, Room 6015 BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA, United Kingdom
- online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/send/u21134593 by completing the online form
- by email to the following email address: [email protected]
- All entries must be accompanied by a completed copy of the entry form, which can be downloaded at: www.bbcworldservice.com/radioplay, or for submissions via the webform. All required boxes must be completed. Any data submitted as part of the entry may be processed in line with the privacy notice found at www.bbcworldservice.com/radioplay.
- Entrants can enter individually or as part of a group. If entering as a group, all entrants must meet the entry requirements and be eligible for the same category. No member should have also entered individually. Please note, the prize only includes payment for one airfare per category.
- In the case of an entry by two or more writers, the BBC will need written or email confirmation from each writer involved that they are prepared to take a share of the prize money and are prepared to receive those funds from a nominee who will be one of the writers, as the prize money will be paid to one individual only. The nominee will be selected by the writers and it will be his or her responsibility to distribute these funds to the other writers and the organisers can take no responsibility for that aspect. As per Rule 8, there will be no additional payment from the BBC for translations.
- Only one entry per person is permitted including any group entries. If you submit more than one entry, only the first entry received will be considered. Please do not submit plays you have entered before.
- You may choose to submit your entry under a pseudonym (which will be the name it shall be promoted and published under); however, you must include your real name on each entry for verification purposes.
- A shortlist of up to 20 scripts will be sent a panel of up to 6 judges. These are selected by invitation each year and usually comprise the Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service, English; the British Council Director of Theatre & Dance; Overseeing Producer, BBC Radio Drama; and an actor or director and a writer. Judges are issued with specific selection criteria and from these scripts, two plays (from either category) will be chosen as winners.
- All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. The BBC accepts no liability if entrants ignore these rules and entrants agree to fully indemnify the BBC against any claims by any third party arising from any breach of these rules.
- Entries must not contain defamatory, obscene or any other unsuitable material, such as that which may cause offence to a wide audience of all ages. Content should not contain excessive swearing or obscene language.
- Entrants retain the copyright in their entries but grant to the BBC an exclusive licence to produce and broadcast their entry on all World Service audio platforms, including radio, podcast and online. Entrants will be permitted to reserve certain secondary rights in other media subject to BBC exclusive options.
- As per Rule 8, there will be two categories of entry: one where English is the entrant’s first language, and one where English is the entrant’s second language. There are up to two Prizes, one for each category. The BBC reserves the right to not put an entrant forward for any stage in the judging process if in doing so it would, in the BBC’s absolute discretion, create or increase any risk of harm to persons or property or create a conflict with BBC Editorial Guidelines. The BBC will be responsible for making any travel and accommodation arrangements in respect of the Trip. Winners will be responsible for arranging their own visas and complying with other UK entry requirements. The BBC reserves the right not to pay the Cash Prize where payments to entrants are restricted by law. The winners should make themselves available for other BBC programmes and publicity. The prize is as stated and cannot be deferred or transferred. There will be no cash alternatives.
- As with any new play, the BBC may require further drafts and revisions of the winning plays. Winners must be willing and able to undertake redrafting and revision work in conjunction with the BBC and accept that they will work with the Producers on re-writes of the play. This work is likely to take place between June 2023 and September 2023 and the winning entrants will need to keep time free, and remain contactable, to achieve this. This work will be completed with the winning entrant using email or the most suitable method available. We reserve the right to revoke a play’s prize-winning status if this work is not completed.
- The BBC will reserve the right to make minor cuts, changes and edits to the winners’ final draft scripts and all editorial control rests with the BBC.
- You must inform the BBC if any character/s or situation/s in the play relate to real situation/s or real people, either living or dead.
- Subject to a satisfactory recording being made, the winning plays are intended to be broadcast on BBC World Service at some point around Spring 2024. Winners will first be required to enter into a contract with the BBC on the standard terms and conditions applicable for broadcast of BBC Radio Drama, taking into consideration local applicable laws. No fee will be payable other than the £2,500 sterling offered as prize money for one broadcast cycle on the BBC World Service English radio service. If repeated on the World Service, a sum of £1250 sterling will be payable for the first repeat cycle and thereafter the BBC will have certain broadcasting and other rights all in accordance with the contract. No additional fees will be paid for distribution on other platforms, including online or as a podcast.
- The BBC, British Council, their sub-contractors, subsidiaries and/or agencies cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem which may result in any entry not being properly registered.
- To the extent permitted by law, the BBC, British Council, their contractors, subsidiaries and/or agencies will not be liable for any loss or damage (whether such damage or losses were foreseen, foreseeable, known or otherwise) including financial, reputational loss or disappointment. This includes any entries that are lost or stolen in transit.
- The promoter of the competition is the British Broadcasting Corporation. The applicable law is that of England and Wales.
- This competition accords with the BBC’s Code of Conduct for Competitions, details of which can be found on the BBC’s Standards and Guidelines website: https://www.bbc.com/editorialguidelines/guidance/code-of-conduct
Looking for fully-funded opportunities, install the Youth Opportunities Android or iOS App here.
Application Deadline: February 12, 2023Application ClosedOfficial link