What is the Open Call opportunity for script submissions?
Rather than accepting scripts year-round, we have distinct submission windows for scripts which are announced on the BBC Writersroom Opportunities page during the year. Each Open Call has a deadline, following which the scripts received are assessed intensively by our script readers and the BBC Writersroom team, and a shortlist drawn up. We then offer various opportunities for the shortlisted group of writers including our Drama Room and Voices development groups.
The next Open Call submission window will be open between 12 noon on Tuesday 7th November 2023 and 12 noon on Tuesday 5th December 2023.
Find full details of how to enter your script below.
Why do we run an Open Call for script submissions?
Our Open Call is not a competition but a means by which the BBC seeks out the best writing talent. We look for writers with the strongest potential to be developed and produced for BBC broadcast. You could be new to writing or new to the BBC but equally, you may be a playwright looking to write for TV, or you’ve written for radio drama and would like to try your hand at writing for CBBC. We understand that carving a career as a writer takes time and that each writer’s development needs will be different. We receive many thousands of scripts every year and can only focus on the writers who we feel have the most potential.
Find out more on ‘How we find and develop writers’
What do we look for?
In our Open Call we are not looking for projects to commission or produce. We are looking for writers to develop rather than specific projects. We look for what the script tells us about the writer. We see all scripts as a calling card to showcase a writer’s talent, ability, and voice.
We are especially looking for distinctive voices – and scripts that express those voices. We do not look for more of the same – we look for the writer’s ability to pull an audience into a world and hold them in it. It’s not necessarily about finding precincts or situations that have ‘never been done before’ but having an original take on stories that have the potential to have wide breadth of appeal.
We are looking for characters who are well rounded and consistent and who drive the narrative rather than serve it. We are looking for a sense of storytelling ability – handling of pace, climax, mood. We are looking to unearth the treasures, the page-turners, the new perspectives, the engaging dialogue and the surprising character creations.
We want to find that special something that makes us want to read more.
We look for what a writer can deliver in script form rather than unscripted ideas. We want to see the best possible draft you can achieve. We are not looking for early/first/rough drafts of scripts. Only submit a script to our Open Call when your script is ready, even if it means waiting for a later submission window.
We may also consider whether a script has real potential to be developed further towards production. If we believe a script could be developed further by a BBC department, we will send it to them with the writer’s knowledge. Original scripts written “on spec” are produced extremely rarely, and writers should not send them in with the expectation that they will be produced. However, original spec’ scripts are the means by which writers get noticed, so you should always write your script with the same level of commitment as if it were for production.
What should you submit?
In our Open Call we accept:
• Drama or Comedy/Drama scripts written for Film, TV, Radio, Stage, Online or Children’s TV/Radio scripts which are a minimum of 30 pages long (excluding title/character pages).
• Scripts will be read anonymously i.e. without a name attached, until after the full-read stage so please remove any personal details (name, address, contacts etc) from the front page of the script or within the document itself.
• If submitting an Online/Children’s TV/Radio script then multiple episodes may be submitted as a single document provided the total length comes to at least 30 pages. You may also submit up to 2 short film scripts as long as the total exceeds 30 pages. For further clarification, please contact email@example.com
• A paragraph about your writing history (max. 250 words). You do not need to have any credits or professionally produced work. We just want to understand your passion for writing.
• A paragraph on what you hope to get out of this programme if successful (max. 250 words).
To help writers prepare their Open Call application before submitting, we’ve provided a downloadable document detailing the steps of the process. Click on the link below:
Please note this list is only for reference. You’ll still need to complete your application via the BBC E-Submissions system which also includes sections on data usage and equality monitoring.
Entries must be written in English. If you submit any part of a script in another language you must also include your own translation of this into English. Your application must be legibly typed and formatted.
Read the Medium and Format guidelines for more guidance.
Please note: All writing software will come with its own user guidelines. We cannot offer technical support for third party software.
Read the Open Call Terms and Conditions for further details on what we accept.
What do we not accept?
We do not accept any of the following:
• Scripts from overseas – we are looking for writers with whom the BBC can develop a strong working relationship and who have something to say that will appeal to British audiences. You may be a non-British-born writer, but you must be resident in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland.
• Scripts from writers under the age of 18.
• Submissions by email or post – when our Open Call is open for submissions, we can only accept scripts online via our E-Submissions system. Postal submissions are not possible under any circumstances.
• Scripts previously submitted to our Open Call (or Script Room) opportunity, including resubmissions of work which has since been re-written and further episodes of a series or serial which has previously been submitted.
• Ideas, pitches, outlines, synopses, or treatments on their own – we must always receive a script with every submission. Samples or extracts from scripts are not eligible either. We want to see a full script or episode.
• Multiple submissions from an entrant.
• DVDs, videos, CDs, audio tapes, or any video/audio material (whether it accompanies a script or otherwise). Any links to video/audio content will not be considered in the reading process.
• New scripts written for existing or previously produced shows and/or characters (for example scripts of Doctor Who, EastEnders, Sherlock or using characters from these shows).
Find out more about the BBC Studios Writers’ Academy if you are interested in writing for one of the BBC’s Continuing Dramas.
• Short stories, novels, unpublished prose manuscripts, poetry or work you wish to have adapted into a script.
• Adaptations for broadcast of another writer’s idea (including adaptations of other writers’ novels).
• Comedy sketch shows and pure narrative comedy series or sitcoms.
Please see BBC Comedy Commissioning’s website for the latest updates on Comedy opportunities.
Read the Open Call Terms and Conditions for further details on what we do not accept.
The next Open Call window for DRAMA and COMEDY DRAMA scripts will be open between 12 noon on Tuesday 7th November 2023 and 12 noon on Tuesday 5th December 2023.
Check out other Opportunities from the BBC and other organisations:
How do you enter the Open Call?
When the Open Call is accepting submissions the link to submit a script and other supporting information via our online E-Submissions system will be made available below.
Once you have clicked on the link for the opportunity, you will firstly be asked to confirm your eligibility before entering.
Please note: If you do not meet the listed criteria, you cannot enter the opportunity. If you still proceed with your application, your submission will be flagged as ineligible and you are unlikely to hear that this is the case until after the deadline has passed.
You will then need to login to your E-submissions account (or create an account if this is the first time you have entered).
If you have not created an e-submissions account before, visit our E-Submissions: Help & FAQs page for an instructional video.
You will then need to fill in a simple application form along with uploading your script and supporting information.
If you would like assistance on how to submit your application, visit our E-Submissions: Help & FAQs page for an instructional video.
To help writers prepare their Open Call application before submitting, we’ve provided a downloadable document detailing the steps of the process. Click the link below:
• We will not accept late submissions under any circumstances. Writers have four full weeks to submit an entry, giving plenty of time to navigate the E-submissions system and meet the deadline.
**If you have specific access requirements then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of the deadline to discuss your application.**
• Do not leave it until the day of deadline to create an E-submissions profile or to submit your script as you will leave yourself no time for troubleshooting.
• The BBC Your Account at the top left of the web page is not the same as a BBC Writersroom E-submissions account. It is totally unrelated, so having a BBC Account (for BBC iPlayer etc) does not automatically sign you up to E-submissions.
Read the E-Submissions: Help & FAQs for further information.
Who will read your script and what is the reading process?
Visit the Open Call FAQs page for details of the reading process.
Do you have a question?
The answers to most questions can be found on our website.
- Read the Open Call Terms and Conditions and FAQs
- Advice on Writing Loglines
- Watch a webinar and get help, advice and Dos and Don’ts to give your script its best chance of success
- Get advice on writing Comedy Drama in this blog post by Robin Taylor and this blog post by Chris Head
- View and download example Script Formats
- Visit our Script Library to read scripts
- Find out how we find and develop writers with Jessica Loveland, The Head of New Writing for BBC Drama Commissioning and BBC Writersroom
- Get more help and advice on our blog including Getting Your Screenplay Ready
- Read the Help & FAQs for our E-Submissions system
If you cannot find the answer to your question on our website (please see section above for links) and need to contact us, the best way is to email email@example.com
***We cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to help you on deadline day, as we are often extremely busy. We highly recommend all writers to submit well in advance of deadline day. It is your responsibility to ensure that you leave enough time to complete the submission process.***