BBC Boss Hails Liverpool a City of Stories

The BBC and the biggest names in Liverpool’s creative sector have come together to launch a scheme to support new writing talent in the city.

“Write Across Liverpool” is a development programme to give aspiring writers an insight into writing for TV.

It’s backed by Liverpudlian Tony Schumacher whose BBC One drama The Responder has been one of the biggest hits of the year so far.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie launched the scheme during a visit to the city and hailed Liverpool as the natural place to pilot the project before it is rolled out across the UK.

Recent BBC dramas written by Liverpool writers include The Responder by Tony Schumacher and Jimmy McGovern’s Time, Anthony, Care and Moving On. Both Tony and Jimmy joined Tim Davie at a launch event at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool last night (Thursday February 10).  

The Responder is Tony Schumacher’s first TV work. The former Merseyside police officer was supported by Jimmy McGovern while writing the drama, which has been watched more than 14 million times on BBC iPlayer.

Tony said: “Starting a writing career is hard and it’s difficult to know where to begin. A scheme like Write Across Liverpool is exactly what you need as a new writer to help guide you through your development. It’s great the BBC and its partners are doing this in Liverpool.”

The BBC’s Writersroom, which works to support writing talent, will partner with different organisations across Liverpool to run an eight week training programme to develop new writers. The BBC will led the scheme alongside the Liverpool Film Office, Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, Liverpool’s Royal Court, Unity Theatre, Writing on the Wall, 20 Stories High and DaDa.

Up to 15 writers will be invited to take part in Write Across Liverpool, which will run later this year. The programme will cover storytelling for the screen with masterclasses from screenwriters, producers and commissioners. Those interested in joining the programme must apply online.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie was in Liverpool to launch the scheme. During his visit to the city he went to The Depot, the new filming facility next to the old Littlewoods site on Edge Lane. He also met figures from the city council and the combined authority, and spent time at BBC Radio Merseyside. 

Tim Davie said: “Liverpool is the natural place to launch a scheme like this because it is a the city of stories. When you look at the writing talent that has emerged from Liverpool over the years, it’s quite extraordinary.

“That continues right up to today with Tony Schumacher writing The Responder, a BBC one drama we are so proud of and that has resonated so well with viewers. Our aim with Write Across Liverpool is to find and develop the people who will be writing BBC One dramas in five years’ time and I’m confident will we do that given the creativity and talent in Liverpool.

“The BBC has a great story in Liverpool, Radio Merseyside is one of our most successful local radio stations and we have made a host of productions here in recent years. We want to build on that success with partners across the city region.”

The BBC has committed to making even more programmes around the country and investing more of its budget outside London through a radical plan launched by Tim Davie in March 2021.

Jessica Loveland, BBC Head of New Writing said: “The BBC Writersroom team are delighted to be bringing Write Across, our brand-new, regionally focussed writer development programme, to Liverpool for its first outing. In partnership with seven inspiring cultural organisations integral to the creative life of the city, we’re excited to work with a group of emerging Liverpool-based writers who represent the vibrant, diverse, modern city. Liverpool already enjoys a long and rich tradition of world-class television writing; we look forward to meeting the next wave of fresh voices and supporting them as they define and approach the early development of original drama series ideas during their time on the programme.”

Councillor Harry Doyle, Cabinet Member responsible for Liverpool’s Film Office, said: “We know Liverpool is a hotbed of creative talent and we’re delighted that the BBC has selected the city region as the first area in the UK for this development programme. We’re lucky to be home to inspirational writers such as Jimmy McGovern, Helen Blakeman and Tony Schumacher, and we know there is a huge amount of untapped talent here who will massively benefit from the Write Across initiative, hopefully giving them a foot in the door of the TV industry.”  

Full details of Write Across Liverpool are on the BBC Writersroom website https://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom

The Responder is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

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