You’re doing spec scripts wrong – why scriptwriters need to think again about scriptwriting competitions and the BBC Writersroom

Here we go, first blogpost of 2021.  This one is a bit of a hot topic, but as a scriptwriter for hire and UK script consultant, I’m seriously worried that aspiring UK scriptwriters are getting something very wrong.

My UK script coverage service and script reading service are really popular, scriptwriters really benefit from listening to my experience, I help them get their spec script into the best shape it can be in, and I give great career advice.

Something that crops up a lot when I’m doing script reports is aspiring writers’ confusion about what a ‘Spec Script’ is for.

So, let me put this straight for the record.


Or at least, it’s very, very unlikely your script will see the light of day. But you shouldn’t be writing your script to get made (almost impossible in the UK industry from a standing start–unless you finance the film yourself).

YOUR SPEC screenplay can be VERY SUCCESFUL, without it ever seeing the light of day on a TV or cinema screen.

YOUR SPEC screenplay is a CALLING CARD script.  IT’s NOT DESIGNED to get MADE.

A ‘Calling Card’ script is there to showcase YOUR BEST work as a scriptwriter.

A SPEC or ‘Calling Card’ script is written for the following reasons;

·         It should WOW readers

·         It should help land you an agent

·         It should help you get PAID scriptwriting work

That’s the very best outcome for an aspiring screenwriter sure, there’s a very slim chance your spec script might get made–very slim (about the thickness of a Rizzla paper).

But spec scripts are done for other reasons–to land an agent and get work–in other words, to make you a professional scriptwriter.  If your Spec Script or ‘Calling Card’ script does that, then it’ll be the most successful script you’re ever likely to write.   

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.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.