scripts and microphones

festivals and competitions


IRDP is no longer running festivals and competitions for new writers. Here are details of the festivals we used to run:

London Radio Playwrights' Festival

The London Radio Playwrights' Festival was funded by London Arts and its Patron for the first seven years was Don Henderson, who died in 1997. Olwen Wymark then became the Festival's Patron. The Festival was open to anyone of any age who lived, worked, or studied in London. It ran from 1990 to 2001, and each year it produced a huge amount of exciting and innovative work. Many of the plays produced through the Festival over the years have won awards at the International Radio Festival of New York, commendations at the Prix Italia, the Sony Awards and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards. New writers winning the Festival's competition have gone on to see their work produced in Britain and then broadcast all over the world, some of their plays have even been translated into other languages and broadcast in Europe. Winning writers have gone on to achieve considerable success in the field of writing, such as Martin McDonagh, Paul Sirett, Ken Armstrong, Tony Duarte, Anna Hashmi, Wendy Lee, William George Q, Tony Bagley, Paul Herzberg and many others who have seen their work produced in the theatre as well as on BBC, RTE and radio stations in Britain and abroad.


Workshops: Every year the Festival offered a free programme of workshops for writers - both beginners and advanced. Particularly popular were the Master Classes with leading playwrights such as Alan Plater, Olwen Wymark and Wally K Daly. In these, writers were asked to submit scripts beforehand so their work could be performed by actors and discussed during the workshop. These usually took place in one of London's theatres such as the Royal Court or the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. There were also several introductory workshops every year for all writers new to radio as well as special workshops for African-Caribbean and Asian writers and disabled writers.

Script Competition: In addition to the series of workshops, there was a script competition for plays up to 46 minutes long. In previous years there was also a competition for short plays, five to ten minutes long, which gave the opportunity to many more writers to have their work broadcast on the radio. The Festival then also incorporated commissioned plays from more established writers, as well as a full day of workshops and awards at London venues such as the Battersea Arts Centre and the Tricycle Theatre, which proved to be very popular and successful.

Don Henderson

(10/11/31 - 22/6/97)

Don Henderson was the founder Patron of the LBC / LAB London Radio Playwrights' Festival as well as being a distinguished actor in all media. For IRDP, he played a range of major roles including Socrates and Van Helsing in Dracula. He was committed to new writing and the development of drama on commercial radio. His enthusiasm, energy, judgement and friendship will be missed. His support for the Festival was very much appreciated.

To see our page about Don Henderson, CLICK HERE.


Woolwich Young Radio Playwrights' Competition

The Woolwich Young Radio Playwrights' Competition ran from 1990 until 1998 and was sponsored by the Woolwich Building Society, which then became Woolwich plc. Every year the competition produced ten plays by writers aged 25 or under. It was open to anyone who lived, worked or studied anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). For the first six years the Patron was distinguished writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, and he was then followed by the new Patron, Carla Lane, OBE, for the final two years. The Woolwich scheme pioneered radio drama workshops around Britain in schools and colleges, educational packs with the help of ABSA and the developmental links between radio and theatre playwriting. For three years the winning writers also saw their plays turned successfully into stage productions which played to full houses at the Cambridge Theatre in Covent Garden, the BAC and the Cottesloe Theatre at the Royal National on the South Bank, as well as hearing them broadcast on the radio. Woolwich writers over the years have also won medals at the New York Festivals, and commendations at the Sony Awards, Prix Italia, Prix Futura and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards: Jane Duncan, Andy Smith, Emily Fuller, Simon Beaufoy, Ben Rice, Katy Thursby, Gemma Lord, Glyn Williams, Anna Hashmi and James Payne. All of these writers were under 25 when they wrote their winning plays, and Katy, Glyn and Gemma were only 13. Some have also had their plays translated for broadcast in Europe.

Judging: Both competitions involved a lengthy process of reading and judging the scripts sent in by entrants. IRDP had a brilliant team of readers who tirelessly read through all the plays and provided critiques for all the writers. A distinguished panel of judges then decided on the final result. Judges for the competitions have included Olwen Wymark, Yvonne Brewster, Don Henderson, Bill Ash, Lady Ralph Richardson, Aden Gillett, Toyah Willcox, Jane Asher, Peter Barkworth, and Nerys Hughes. The panel of readers included: Ken Armstrong, Amanda Affleck, Dallas Campbell, Alastair Dougall, Rachel Sinclair, Paul Nimmo, Emma Howell, Gella Richards, Paul Sirett, William George Q and Marja Giejgo.

Woolwich plc's sponsorship came to an end in November 1998.

Click here for information about the winners of the 1998 Woolwich Young Radio Playwrights' Competition

Like to try writing radio drama but don't know where to start?

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IRDP website by Marja Giejgo