16 February 2021
- UKTV calls for 4 x 30' anthology series for Dave written by underrepresented talent, made and performed by diverse groups
- UKTV partners with Comedy 50:50 to recruit female comedy writers
- All Voices industry access scheme extended to all UKTV Original productions
- 25% of UKTV's development funding ringfenced for diverse talent
UKTV today announced a pair of writers' initiatives aimed at improving the variety of voices within comedy and drama, along with plans to commission a 4x30' anthology series for Dave, written by, made and performed by diverse talent.
Richard Watsham, UKTV's Director of Commissioning, said:
We aspire to be the best in the industry at discovering, developing, and promoting underrepresented talent, and it's vitally important that we empower talented individuals to tell their unique stories on screen. We are not seeing enough of those voices in comedy despite enormous amounts of talent out there. These two initiatives will offer tangible opportunities, funding, and a support structure that I hope will help us take a big step in the right direction.
4 x 30' on Dave
UKTV is engaging with TriForce to create a 360, multi-step process to ensure change happens. Starting with utilising TriForce's WriterSlam platform, which has a reputation for discovering writers from all backgrounds, UKTV is looking for a broad range of writing samples and ideas (10 pages maximum, no need for full scripts). The key aim is for writers to tell stories they wish to share, ranging from the comedic to the dramatic.
UKTV will then work with Triforce and DandI to filter submissions down to six finalists, who will all receive funding to write a 30-minute script based on their personal experience of living in the UK. Four of these scripts will be greenlit for production and then broadcast on Dave. There is also potential for scripts to be commissioned for a full series.
UKTV will also work with DandI, which provides bespoke D&I support to the entertainment industry and uses a diverse recruitment process for crew, creative and clerical roles. By tapping into its fully inclusive talent network, UKTV is committing to diversity and inclusion at all levels, and at all stages as part of this collaboration, ensuring authenticity is at the centre of the process from start to finish, on and off screen.
Working closely with these key collaborators, UKTV will also look to identify a number of emerging, diverse-led indies and work with TriForce and DandI to engage them in the process, ensuring the content creators of tomorrow have the tools they need today.
Pete Thornton, Head of Scripted, UKTV, said:
We're excited to be working with TriForce Creative Network and DandI on this unique UKTV WriterSlam and to be throwing this opportunity open to all underrepresented talent from all backgrounds. This is a truly inclusive initiative, and we want to hear from people from ethnic minorities, those from underserved socio-economic groups, the LGBTQ community, those who identify as having a disability, and basically anybody who feels that their voice and experience isn't currently heard or seen clearly on our TV screens. We're offering dedicated support and mentoring over a three-month writing period and then the opportunity to see shows prepped, cast, shot, edited, marketed and broadcast on Dave next year.
Fraser Ayres, Executive Producer and CEO TriForce Creative Network, said:
This is what a '360o approach' actually looks like. If we're going to find more Michaela Cole's and Tim Renkow's we need to develop pathways that provide access - then perhaps those much-needed voices won't have to traverse so many obstacles to be heard. This move is unprecedented and kudos to UKTV for taking this tangible and giant step to truly move the dial with us.
Submissions are open from midday Thurs 18 Feb - 11:59pm on Thurs 25 Mar 2021.
For more information and to find out how to submit, visit the WriterSlam page here.
Female Comedy Writers' initiative
For Dave and Gold
In addition to commissioning the WriterSlam and anthology series for Dave, UKTV is also announcing a second writers' initiative, working with Comedy 50:50, to turbocharge the recruitment of female voices in its scripted comedy pipeline. UKTV is funding 10 treatments for 30-minute comedies for either Dave or Gold and is looking to commission at least three full scripts from those. The aim is to extend one or more projects into a series commission.
Initial submissions are requested for top line ideas, no longer than two paragraphs, along with a five-page writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous experience is not necessary as UKTV will support writers throughout the process, providing templates and mentorship as appropriate.
Submissions are being accepted now until midnight on Friday 26th February.
Pete Thornton, Head of Scripted at UKTV, said:
We are firm admirers and supporters of the work that the team at Comedy 50:50 have put in already towards their drive to redress the balance in comedy towards female writers. This is something I'm aware of every time I go through our development slate and I want to make sure that brilliant female writers have their voices more clearly and frequently heard within the scripted comedy that's currently broadcast in the UK each year. I can't wait to read the ideas that are going to come in from this initiative, and to get working on the scripts and hopefully full series commissions that will result for either Dave or Gold.
UKTV All Voices
UKTV also announced today the extension of its All Voices initiative, a partnership with Film London's Equal Access Network which offers paid positions on UKTV Original productions. The aim is for people to work on multiple productions across a twelve-month period so that they carry a meaningful volume of experience forward on which to build sustained and developing careers.
Interviews will be held shortly for candidates wishing to be part of the 2021 intake which will now consist of 20 people across multiple production disciplines and experience. Previous participants have worked as camera assistants, in the art department, in make-up and as production secretaries. In an extension of the scheme, UKTV has announced that from 1st April, all its production partners are being asked to make a role available to one of the candidates. All Voices participants will then benefit from multi-year mentorship alongside an existing programme of training sessions which are open to all.
Funding and production
The multi-channel broadcaster has also committed to ringfencing a minimum of a quarter of its development budget for diverse production companies and on-screen talent. In addition, it is making a commitment to having 20% of production talent from underrepresented groups across its originations. UKTV will work collaboratively with suppliers to help them reach this target for all productions from 1st July 2021.
To help UKTV's deaf or hard of hearing viewers, last month the broadcaster increased subtitling on Dave, Yesterday and Drama to include all programmes, exceeding Ofcom's requirement of 80% of output.
UKTV recently joined the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) and became a Diamond Broadcaster. This involves the collection and reporting of diversity data through the organisation's ground-breaking monitoring system.
Notes to editors:
In winter 2020, BBC Studios increased its commitment to discovering, developing and supporting diverse talent in its production teams by launching the BBC Studios Production Inclusion Rider ,which introduced targets for new commissions requiring a minimum 20% of on-screen talent to be from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, have a lived experience of a disability, identify as LGBTQ+ or be from a low-income background. It also launched its Assistant Producer Accelerator Programme offering fourteen one-year contracts to researchers wanting to become Assistant Producers by providing them with the knowledge, skills and experience they need to develop, encouraging applications from underrepresented groups including those with a disability, those from ethnic minorities, lower income groups and the LGBTQ+ community.
UKTV has been at the forefront of branded television for over 25 years, entertaining the nation with programmes they love. Its leading brands - Dave, Gold, W, Drama, Alibi, Eden and Yesterday - span comedy, entertainment, natural history, factual and drama, and are delivered to audiences through UKTV Play, Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, Freesat and Amazon Fire. The broadcaster is a significant investor in British creativity and is committed to working with new and established writers, directors and programme-makers.
UKTV is part of BBC Studios, the UK's most-awarded production company, a world-class distributor with international branded services, and a commercial subsidiary of the world's leading public service broadcaster, the BBC.