BBC Scotland is to launch a major new writers-in-residence opportunity for talent from or living in the country.
The Frank Deasy award, named after the screenwriter who died in 2009, will offer up to two writers a six-month residency with BBC Scotland. The successful candidates will have a remit to develop ideas for BBC1, with the initiative aiming to see one of their dramas commissioned through BBC Scotland.
Actor Douglas Henshall will sit on the judging panel for the prize, which will be officially launched at the Traverse Theatre later this month. He will be joined by Scottish playwright Zinnie Harris, BBC Scotland drama head Christopher Aird, Creative Scotland portfolio manager Laura Mackenzie Stuart, and Kate Rowland, creative director of new writing at the BBC.
Henshall said: “Writers are so crucial to drama – without them, people like me are out of work, so to be involved in this award is an honour. After all, writers are the past, present and future for drama.”
Aird added that Deasy was “renowned for his intelligent, authentic scripts”. He said: “The award is an exciting opportunity for writers to follow in his footsteps and create emotive, original TV drama. We want to encourage Scottish writers who feel passionate about the stories they want to tell, and who have something to offer audiences across the length and breadth of the UK.”
The prize is a joint initiative between BBC Scotland, the BBC Writersroom and Creative Scotland. It follows a 2009 initiative between the BBC and the Writersroom called Scotland Writes, which offered writers the chance to develop their scripts with a £1,500 prize.
However, when Frank Deasy died, the BBC renamed the prize the Frank Deasy award for Scottish writing.
Rowland described the new opportunity as “a completely different ball game”. “This is really high profile, and embedded in the department,” she said.
The competition is open to writers with at least one professional commission or engagement in TV, theatre or film.
Full details will be revealed on November 29, and the winners will be announced in April next year.