Where can you submit your script / screenplay in the UK? It’s a good question and as a UK script consultant I get asked this a lot.
There are literally hundreds of production companies in the UK – large and small, many of these production companies produce drama or comedy for broadcasters like the BBC, CH4, ITV and Netflix/Amazon. But, very few of these companies accept unsolicited scripts.
BBC Writers room script submissions
They don’t accept script submissions for a couple of reasons, some simply don’t have the resources to read submissions. Others don’t accept unsolicited screenplays for very sound legal reasons. They worry, if they read your script, and they’re developing something similar that you’ll take legal action at a later date – claiming they stole your idea – this has happened a lot to production companies. So, there’s a kind of blanket – no unsolicited material approach across the industry.
But most good production companies are happy to receive scripts and submissions that come from writers with representation by a legit literary agent. So, you need an agent first to really get your work out there (here is some excellent advice on how to get a scriptwriting agent along with a complete list of UK agents).
However, for new writers starting out, there is the BBC Writersroom. The BBC Writersroom accepts scripts in various genres – comedy, drama and even by region. The BBC Writersroom has specific set windows for accepting scripts.
The BBC also runs the BBC Writers’ Academy – the Writers’ Academy, like other schemes by the BBC opens in yearly windows and accepts submissions from anyone wanting to try their hand at screenwriting.
BBC Writers’ Academy
The Writers’ Academy itself is like a fast-tracked screenwriting development course, where selected writers will have a shot at writing some of the BBC’s existing shows like Doctors, EastEnders and Casualty. Writer’s will get feedback, workshops and advice from professional scriptwriters – its a big opportunity to really kick-start a career as a scriptwriter.
The Writersroom’s main remit is to find new writers and develop them for BBC shows, so that they can become professional script writers working for the BBC – on regular shows like EastEnders and Casualty first off. It’s a great way to break into the industry, get regular commissions and land an agent.
When you submit a script to the BBC Writersroom, an agent, or a script writing competition, in the first instance, your script will be read and assessed by a professional script reader or UK script consultant (like myself). That person will put together a report on the strengths and weaknesses of the script – this report will decide if your script progresses to the next stage or not.
Often, script readers with an enormous pile of submissions will not read longer that the first 10/15 pages if they sense that the script and the writer isn’t up to professional standard. Sometimes, this is obvious on the very first page.
A script report is vital before you submit to the BBC
So, I’d always suggest that before you submit your script anywhere you pay for a professional script report or script coverage service. That way, you can get an immediate idea of any changes you need to make to the script before submission.
The very worst thing you can do, is finish your first draft, and then send the script off to the BBC blind – without someone else (who knows what they’re doing – like me) reading it and giving you feedback.
It’s normal to finish a script, and then feel a bit elated on completion of the first draft, it’s a natural normal reaction – but DO NOT trust that the script is ‘market ready’ based on this feeling – this is such a common error that the BBC readers themselves warn against doing this.
Never send anything off – without getting someone to read the script first. And I don’t mean get your mum, brother or best mate to read the script – I mean get qualified feedback from a professional. It’s the biggest #rookie error. Even pro writers get their agent or a pro script consultant to give feedback before a script goes anywhere.
You need to get feedback before you submit to the BBC Writersroom – trust me, I’m a doctor – well a Script Doctor at least. Don’t blow any chance you might have by submitting a script blind without advice or support. It might be that your script – with a small tweak could get placed in one of these competitions. But, without that tweak – it’s going to fall short of the shortlist. Don’t make that mistake.
It’s not unusual for the BBC drama room to get 5000+ entries for each window. Indeed in 2017 the BBC confirms that 4000 scripts got read, and only 33 progressed to the next stage – I think there were 6 winners – 4000 down to six. That’s long odds.
With that level of competition you really need all the help you can get. So, I’d recommend my script coverage service – which is used by professional writers / producers and directors – as well as people just starting out.
All scripts sent in, are reviewed by me personally – A professional script writer for hire with 25+ years experience in the industry. I’ve written for Eastenders, Emmerdale, and others, as well as having won a few scriptwriting competitions myself when I was starting out. A partial list of my script writing credits is here on the IMDb
Unlike some professional writers, I don’t charge an arm and a leg for my script coverage service either. Prices are:
- Short film script report £50
- TV drama up to one hour script report £80
- Feature film script report £120
Before you pay for a script report or coverage, always make sure you know WHO is reading the script and what professional experience they have in the film and TV industry. I would be very wary of anonymous readers or script reading farms on an industrial scale.
If you’d like to enquire about my script coverage service please contact me on – firstname.lastname@example.org – remember as the BBC submission window opens I can get very busy – so book me in now!
Matthew Cooper has been a scriptwriter for hire, UK Script editor and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.
You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.