UKTV has announced a pair of writers’ initiatives aimed at improving the variety of voices within comedy and drama, along with plans to commission a 4×30′ 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.”
UKTV has joined forces with the Triforce Creative Network / dandi.org.uk, a group working towards removing barriers to progress that diverse and emerging talent often face in the TV industry.
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.