Thursday, November 02, 2006

BBC International Playwriting Competition 2007


Welcome to our tenth biennial International Playwriting Competition, run in conjunction with the British Council. Write our actors their dream script Once again, we have two first prizes: for the best play by a writer with English as their first language, and for the best play by a writer with English as their second language. These two winners will each receive £2500 sterling and a trip to London to see their play being recorded for broadcast on BBC World Service in the World Drama slot. The playwriting competition is one of the most exciting events here at BBC World Service Drama, as it provides us with an opportunity to connect with our audience, drawing on a vast, untapped resource of writing talent from around the world. Previous winners have gone on to gain further commissions for BBC World Service Drama and other areas of BBC Radio Drama. So, if you are an experienced novelist or writer for theatre, film, television, but are new to Radio Drama; if you are a writer with no experience at all writing your first script; or if you're a writer somewhere in between - we want to hear from you. Your work is our future. Good luck.


£2500 sterling for the overall winning playwright of the best play written with English as a first language and a trip to London to see the play being recorded and to attend a prize-giving evening.
£2500 sterling for the overall winning playwright of the best play written with English as a second language and a trip to London to see the play being recorded and to attend a prizegiving evening.
A prize of a digital or short wave radio for the best radio play to be written from each of the following geographical areas: The Americas; Europe; Africa and the Middle East; South Asia; Russia and the Caucasus; Asia and Pacific.
BBC goodie bags for all writers whose plays reach the judges' final shortlist.


You are asked to write a radio play of about sixty minutes on any subject of your choice. This means that your finished script should be a minimum of 50 pages of A4 paper (or equivalent) and a maximum of 75 pages (note, a rough guide is a minute per page; read and time your play if you can before you send it!). The play should have a maximum of six central characters.
The play must be the original, unpublished work of the person or persons submitting it. It must not have been professionally produced, in any medium.
Open to anyone not normally resident in the UK.
If you are under the age of 16 you must obtain permission from your parent/guardian before you enter this competition. Your parent/guardian must be prepared to travel with you to London to collect your prize. Your parent/guardian must be prepared to pay for their own travel costs.
Your play must be with us in London by April 30, 2007.

Help writing a radio play

Tell a good story. Radio Drama thrives on strong narratives. Whether you?re writing a tragedy, a comedy, a deeply personal piece of autobiography or a play to change the world, a great storyline will keep your audience listening.
However, don?t make the story too complicated, with too many themes, characters and plotlines, or the listener will get confused.
Get under the skin of your characters. Get to know them really well. Each will have their own individual speech mannerisms. Don?t have them all speaking in your tone of voice.
Don?t - in the interests of furthering the plot - have characters telling each other information they already know!
Radio Drama is not only about words. Use the four building blocks of radio drama - speech, sound effects, music and silence. Decide exactly what ?sound picture? - what mixture of these four elements - the listener needs to hear in each scene. Will a scene be enhanced by having music under it? Will a pause between a speech add to the dramatic effect?
But, if in doubt, keep it simple - the play stands or falls by the words you have written, not the amount of music or sound effects.
Vary the pace and length of your scenes, as well as their background acoustics and ?location?. A radio play which has six ten-minute scenes, each set in a dining-room, is likely to be less effective than a play which varies its scenes and settings. Keep the listener interested by thinking about how the play will sound. Using a variety of backgrounds, scene lengths and sound effects will usually serve to make a story more effective for the listener.
Presentation is important. Script readers (and play competition judges) are better disposed towards neatly-typed, professionallypresented manuscripts. Type all directions and sound effects in capital letters (e.g. HAMLET?S GARDEN. HAMLET IS DIGGING FOR POTATOES. IT IS RAINING) and dialogue in lower case. Leave a space each time a character speaks. Enjoy writing your play. If you enjoy it, the chances are that other people will too.
Feel free to ignore some of these tips. All the best playwrights break ?rules? from time to time. But have a good reason for breaking them.
Remember that good drama is not simply about one idea but about what happens when two ideas collide. Sixty minutes gives you a lot of time to develop your plot and your subplot.
Tune in to BBC World Drama on BBC World Service or listen via our website by going to and selecting BBC World Drama from the Radio Programmes list.

And remember

Please read the rules and abide by them. If a play is either too short or much too long it may be disqualified.
Please do not send your only copy. Manuscripts are not returned under any circumstances.
Please do not send us amendments or further drafts once your play has been submitted.
Please do not send cassettes, CDs, videos or sheet music with your play - it is not necessary at the entry level and they cannot be returned to you.

Entry form

The entry form should be completed by all competitors and attached to your play.
Click here for the entry form (pdf version)
Click here for the entry form (word version)