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BBC seeks Drama Projects in Association with NI Screen
19 Jun 2017 :
Following recent news of it reinvestment in drama, the BBC is accepting applications for sixty-minute dramas which can be developed as one-off specials or prequels, in association with Northern Ireland Screen.

The deadline for applications is August 8th 2017, with both the longlist and second round to follow in September.

Projects should be suitable for BBC One in Northern Ireland, and should portray NI on screen in new ways, while reflecting life in the area.

The Offer
BBC One Northern Ireland is a mainstream channel attracting a wide, naturally diverse audience. The BBC wants to make an impact in the peak time schedule. This is not an initiative for niche or overly complex subjects. They are interested singles that do one or more of the following:

  • Create impact around a contemporary story - eg, ‘Our Girl’, ‘A Song for Jenny’
  • Create a showcase for the biggest and best NI acting and writing talent – eg, creating drama from David Park’s novel, ‘The Truth Commissioner’
  • Disrupt the expected narrative about Northern Ireland – eg, ‘Boogaloo and Graham’
  • Do something fresh, brilliantly written and unexpected – eg, ‘Bad Day for the Cut’, ‘Marvellous’

The BBC is particularly interested in original drama with a broad popular appeal. We are not looking for gritty crime drama or Troubles-related subject-matter. We are looking to develop precincts like ‘Ballykissangel’ and contemporary characters like Doc Martin, or Happy Valley’s Sergeant Catherine Cawood. Diversity in its varied forms is of key importance to us and we also want to reflect and represent a wide range of BBC audiences on screen. In addition, they are always interested in finding strong voices from among under-represented groups, in particular working class and female.

If successful, the BBC envisages commissioning three stand-alone one-hour dramas. These may act as a prequel to a serial, and they are also looking to develop series ideas for the future. One-offs are within a factual tariff range. Please do not pitch ideas that cannot be realised within budget. The maximum budget from the BBC is £250,000, though they welcome projects that are able to attract additional incentive funding and finance partners. They are looking for a plot outline and treatment plus at least one sample scene – preferably more.

Who Should Apply
The BBC is offering access to both BBC Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen for writers, producers and directors. They are interested in hearing great ideas from the widest range of people – you may be new to television but have a story you want to tell. You may be mid-career, experienced in other areas of life and ready for a new challenge. You may be writing successfully in another genre. This scheme is designed to nurture producers, writers and directors – they will offer development and the chance to learn from others in the sector. We particularly welcome proposals from underrepresented groups including women writers and those with a disability.


  • First call for ideas: 8th June 2017
  • First submission deadline: 8th August 2017 – offers to be submitted by email to linda.mccarter @ bbc.co.uk
  • Longlist announced and additional feedback: early September 2017
  • Second deadline: 27th September 2017
  • Shortlisting: end September 2017
  • Decisions: mid-October 2017
  • For more information and for submissions, please contact BBCNI’s Commissioning Team Assistant, Linda McCarter: Linda.mccarter @ bbc.co.uk

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