BBC & ITV to Jointly Fund New Writers & Directors Scheme

Dancing Ledge Productions

BBC and ITV have agreed to jointly fund a new two-year writers and new directors scheme run by Dancing Ledge Productions.

The aim of the project is to discover and nurture a new generation of TV talent, providing them with a career changing opportunity.

ITV will support the new writers’ initiative and the BBC the new directors’ initiative.

With ITV’s investment, eight A list writers will be invited to choose and mentor a new writer whose work they have been impressed by.

The new writer will be given a non-refundable bursary and write a pilot episode for their own original TV series. Their mentor will give feedback through the writing process, provide the benefit of their expertise, offer encouragement, and then also help place the project with a production company and broadcaster.

Polly Hill, Head of Drama at ITV commented: “I’m delighted we’re able to partner with Dancing Ledge in creating opportunities for new writing talent following the success of last year’s mentoring scheme. I commissioned Trigger Point as a direct result of the scheme which undoubtedly created an opportunity for Daniel Brierley which might not have existed otherwise. It’s an excellent initiative and one I look forward to supporting.”

With the BBC’s investment, eight A list directors will be invited to select an outstanding new director whose work they admire. They will be given a bursary that will pay for them to work as a Second Unit director on a production being directed by their mentor and to shadow them.

With second unit work becoming increasingly important in scripted television, the scheme will provide a springboard to help new directors gain valuable experience and credits.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama added: “We want to help with assisting new directors to break through in the British drama sector, to help establish a talent pool which is both creatively rich and truly inclusive. We are delighted to be working with Dancing Ledge on a scheme to help address this.”

Dancing Ledge Productions will also run regular workshops with the mentees and organise Mentor and Broadcaster masterclasses.

The first generation of the scheme, set up for the Screenskills High End TV Writers Fund in 2018, saw Jimmy McGovern, Jack Thorne, Sally Wainwright, Levi David Addai, Kay Mellor, Paul Abbott, Jed Mercurio, Lucy Prebble and Amanda Coe all mentor new writers. So far two series have been commissioned by Broadcasters that have come out of that programme. Jimmy McGovern mentee Tony Schumacher’s The Responder starring Martin Freeman for BBC2. And Jed Mercurio mentee Daniel Brierley’s Trigger Point for ITV.

Laurence Bowen, CEO Dancing Ledge Productions said: “Having both the BBC and ITV invest directly in 16 new voices and working with 16 fantastic mentors to help identify and support them is a wonderful celebration of everything we believe in as a company. We’ve always put new talent right at the heart of what we do. It keeps us and the industry relevant and provides vital funds for new writing and directing talent at a current crisis point for many.”

Alongside ongoing BBC dramas, The Responder and The Salisbury Poisonings, Dancing Ledge Productions recently developed Netflix Original Delhi Crime, was the UK producer for The New Pope, and produced Porters for Dave/UKTV.

It is currently developing projects with Paulo Coelho, Louise Doughty, Faith Soloway, Nathaniel Martello White, Joe Barton and Lauren Sequeira, and a new partnership with Lee Child – Lee Child True Crime – a drama series based on real-life stories of people risking their lives in the pursuit of justice.

Dancing Ledge Productions work internationally with Fremantle which has a minority stake in the company.