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Red Planet, ITV link for writers prize

UK prodco Red Planet Pictures has partnered with commercial broadcaster ITV on the latest incarnation of its scheme for emerging writers.

Tony Jordan

The Red Planet Prize, which was initially launched in 2007, searches for emerging writing talent who can create fresh and inspiring popular drama content.

The prize has previously been won by Robert Thorogood, who went on to write BBC drama Death in Paradise.

The winner of the 2018 prize will get a script commission and development opportunities with ITV. Writers are being asked to submit an existing original spec script, a pitch and a CV with their entries.

Screenwriters must be based in the UK and their original TV idea should not be in development with another broadcaster or production company. Submissions will be accepted from February 1 to 9, with the winner announced in the summer.

Up to 10 shortlisted writers will then be invited to a pitching masterclass with Red Planet Pictures CEO Tony Jordan (Life On Mars, Hustle), ITV head of drama Polly Hill and ITV senior drama commissioner Victoria Fea.

Actor Adrian Lester (Riviera) and Kate Rowland, who set up the BBC Writersroom and will produce the winner’s production, also sit on the judging panel.

Hopefuls will be asked to write the first 10 pages of their original idea, with four then developed further. Writers will subsequently be interviewed before a winner is announced.

Red Planet Pictures is behind shows including Dickensian and Death in Paradise for the BBC. The latter’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide (which will be known as BBC Studios after merging with the Studios division next April) took a stake in its factual arm in 2015.

Jordan said: “There is a wealth of brilliantly creative and exciting new writers in the UK, but it’s an incredibly difficult and competitive industry to break into.

“Every year it is a joy to uncover, develop and workshop with new talent, and we are delighted to partner with ITV Drama for 2018 to provide a much needed platform for the next generation of writers for television to get their first break, and in turn to bring fresh ideas and voices in to the industry.”

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