BBC Radio Playwriting Competition

The biennial International Radio Playwriting Competition is run by the BBC World Service and the British Council and is now in its twelfth year. It is a competition for anyone resident outside Britain, to write a 60-minute radio drama for up to six characters.

Two winners will go to London and see their play made into a full radio production, which will then be broadcast on the BBC World Service. They will also each receive a £2,500 prize and there are also prizes for the runners-up.

The play must be in English, unpublished and must not have been previously produced in any medium. They’re looking for experienced, new, or somewhere in between writers so get a move on.


1. Entry is only open to anyone who is over the age of 16 as at 31 March 2011 who is not normally a resident of the UK. This may include anyone living/working in the UK on a temporary basis (up to 12 months) at the time of entering the competition. Professional and previously published writers are eligible to enter, but this is not a requirement of entry.

2. Entrants must not be BBC or British Council employees and their close relatives 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 60 minutes in length on any subject of their choice. Adaptations of novels are not eligible.

4. Plays entered must 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).

5. Plays entered in the competition must not, at the time they are submitted, have been offered for publication, performance or broadcast in any other form or medium to any other person or company. Nor can they, at the time of entry or during the course of the competition, have been entered for any other 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 December 2011.

6. All scripts submitted must 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; 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 three small “doubling” characters too, who don’t have more than a few lines each). Your play must be accompanied by a short synopsis which outlines the complete story of the play. This must be no more than 400 words.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. The competition opens on 16 October 2010 and closes on 31 March 2011. Entries must be received in London by midnight GMT on 31 March 2011. Entries received after this time will not be considered.

10. Entries must be submitted either: by post to the following address: Rm 823B, South East Wing, BBC Bush House, Strand, London WC2B 4PH OR by email to the following email address:


… Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

Plays will be selected for their originality and imagination, use of good dialogue, a compelling story with a believable plot, characters and structure, use of the medium of radio and how practical the play would be for the BBC to produce.

… Entries will be judged through the following process:

Scripts will be read by a team of readers and a long shortlist drawn up. This will then be cut to a maximum of 16 scripts (8 first language and 8 second language) and these scripts sent to a panel of judges, who meet for a day to discuss the shortlist and decide upon the winners, using their judgement of the criteria above.

… The names of the short listed entrants and the titles of their plays will be posted on the competition website in August 2011. Following the final judges’ meeting, the winners’ names and the titles of their plays will be posted on the website by end September 2011. You can access the competition website by visiting click or click and selecting International Playwriting Competition 2011 from the options listed there.

… The winner will be contacted by a member of the BBC production team during July 2011. If the winner cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts have been made to do so, the BBC reserves the right to offer the prize to the next best entry.

… It is planned that the two overall winning plays will be recorded in October 2011 and the playwrights invited to attend the production and a prize-giving event in London.


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