The International Radio Playwriting Competition 2020 – from the BBC World Service and British Council in partnership with Commonwealth Writers – is an opportunity for writers from outside the UK to tell their stories.
The competition runs from 1 October 2019 to midnight GMT 31 January 2020 and is open to new and established writers, provided they live outside the UK and are aged over 18 on 31 January 2020.
There are two categories for entry – one for entrants who speak English as a first language and the other for entrants with English as a second language – and the prize includes a trip to London to see the winning play being recorded for broadcast.
In order to enter you need to send:
• A script for a 53 minute radio play with up to six central characters
• A synopsis which outlines your play is no longer than 400 words
Deadline is midnight GMT 31 January 2020
International Radio Playwriting Competition Rules – 2020
1. Entry is only open to anyone who is over the age of 18 as at 31 January 2020 who is not normally a resident of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man (“UK”). Individuals who have lived or worked in the UK on a temporary basis for no more than 12 months at the time of entering the competition are also eligible. Professional and previously published writers are eligible to enter, but this is not a requirement of entry. We may require proof of eligibility.
2. Entrants must not be BBC, BBC Group company, British Council or Commonwealth Foundation employees, close relatives of such employees or any person connected to the competition. Proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested.
3. Entrants should write a radio play of approximately fifty three minutes’ length on any subject of their choice.
4. The entrants warrant, by submitting plays, that the play:
a) is the original work of the entrants,
b) is not an adaptation of an earlier work (for example a novel),
c) 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 2021,
d) 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 2021, and
e) will not have been entered for any other competition before 31 March 2021.
A breach of these warranties will result in disqualification from the competition.
5. 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 2021.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. 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 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.
9. 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.
10. The competition opens on 1 October 2019 and closes on 31 January 2020.
Entries must be received at your British Council office or at the BBC in London by midnight GMT on 31 January 2020. Entries received after this time will not be considered.
11. Entries must be submitted in one of the following ways
• by post to the following address: International Playwriting Competition 2020, BBC Radio Drama, Room 6015 BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA, United Kingdom
• online at https://bbcplaywrite.monterosa.co.uk/ by completing the online form
• by email to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
• at your local British Council office,
12. All entries must be accompanied by a completed copy of the entry form which can be downloaded here. All required boxes must be completed.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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, director and writer. Judges are issued with specific selection criteria and from these scripts, two plays (from either category) will be chosen as winners.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Entrants retain the copyright in their entries but grant to the BBC an exclusive licence to broadcast their entry on radio, as well as use it on any online platforms in line with the BBC’s Radio Drama Agreement as agreed with the Radio Writers’ Forum (see Rule 25 below). Entrants reserve certain secondary rights in other media subject to BBC exclusive options. Entrants also grant a licence to Commonwealth Writers to publish extracts of their scripts, along with their name(s), on the Commonwealth Writers’ website.
21. The prize for each of the two winners (which can come from either the English as a 1st language category or the English as a 2nd language category) will consist of £2500 sterling and a trip to London (standard airfare and accommodation for one person) to see the winning play being recorded for broadcast on the BBC World Service and attend a prize-giving event. 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.
22. 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 2020 and September 2020 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. Subject to a satisfactory recording being made, the winning plays will be broadcast on BBC World Service at some point around Spring 2021. 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. No fee will be payable other than the £2500 sterling offered as prize money for one broadcast cycle and the BBC’s standard package of rights under that contract. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. The promoter of the competition is the British Broadcasting Corporation. The applicable law is that of England and Wales.
29. 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
30. For more information about how the BBC processes your personal data when you enter this competition, please see the privacy notice on the entry form.
Enquiries about the call for submissions should be directed to the BBC World Service, please refer to their website for complete details and information.