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ITV to back theatre training scheme for young directors

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ITV is to replace Channel 4 as the sponsor of the UK’s longest running training scheme for young directors.

The ITV Theatre Director Scheme, formerly known as the Channel 4 Theatre Director Scheme, will give three young directors the chance to spend one year training and developing their skills in a professional theatre. It will also provide the directors with contacts that enable them to transfer their skills to the television sector.

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said the broadcaster aimed to “nurture talent across the board” and said the scheme was an excellent opportunity to do that outside of the broadcaster’s core business.

Originally set up in 1960 as the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme, it was operated by ABC and Thames Television before being passed to the Television Fund, supported by ITV companies.

It lost this support in 1991 as a result of the reallocation of ITV contracts and eventually disbanded. It was relaunched in 1993 with the backing of Scottish Television Central, Thames Television and Channel 4.

In 1999, Channel 4 took over sole responsibility for the scheme but its future began to look future uncertain earlier this year when the broadcaster announced it could no longer provide support.

ITV has now taken the scheme on and will receive administrative support from the Young Vic.

The broadcaster has already awarded bursaries for this year to Joe Douglas, who is at the National Theatre of Scotland, Kathryn Ind at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Chris Hayden, who is about to train at Salisbury Playhouse.

The bursaries have been provided by the Mackintosh Foundation, ITV plc and the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation.

Each recipient will receive a bursary of £12,000 to fund a year-long placement at a regional theatre. The directors will have the opportunity to assist on shows and work on a variety of projects in all departments of the theatre.

Previous graduates include Trevor Nunn, Ken Loach and Michael Boyd.

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