The global competition, hosted by BBC World Service and the British Council, in partnership with co-producers The Open University, offers the unique opportunity for playwrights to use the medium of radio drama to reach an international audience.

This year the two first prizes can come from either the English As A First Language or the English As A Second Language category. Both winners will attend an award ceremony in London and see their plays recorded for broadcast on BBC World Service.

A third award – the Georgi Markov prize – celebrates the most promising script from the competition’s shortlist, in honour of BBC World Service journalist and writer Georgi Markov (1929-1978). The winner of this prize will also travel to London for the award ceremony and spend two weeks being mentored by BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service.

The last competition attracted entries from a record 112 countries, with Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, India, Australia, South Africa, Jamaica and the USA being on the shortlist. To mark this year’s launch, The Day Dad Stole A Bus, by Brazilian writer Péricles Silveria (the winner of last year’s English As A Second Language prize) will be broadcast again on Saturday 14 October on BBC World Service.

Mary Hockaday, Controller, BBC World Service English, says: “Returning for the 26th time, this fantastic competition remains a unique platform for writers to have their radio play heard by the BBC World Service’s millions of listeners across the globe. We’re looking for distinctive voices and compelling storytelling that reflects the world around us, and we’re eager to see what scripts are submitted this year.”

Neil Webb, Director Theatre and Dance, British Council, says: “It’s a pleasure to be working with the BBC again in the 26th year of the competition, which continues to provide an important platform for talented writers from around the world. The universal desire to tell our stories coupled with the global reach of the World Service makes the competition an invaluable bridge between people of the world and the United Kingdom.”

Dr Derek Neale, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, The Open University, says: “The Open University is delighted to continue co-producing with the World Service this unique competition. It encourages new talent nationally and internationally, and is a wonderful source of inspiration and insight for our students at all levels, undergraduate or MA, whether they are just starting or experienced scriptwriters.”


The shortlisted scripts and judging panel will be announced in due course. Previous judges have included Kwame Kwei Armah, Dame Eileen Atkins, Doris Lessing, Roy Williams and Indira Varma.

The International Playwriting Competition welcomes scripts from anyone outside the UK, whether established or new writers. The dramas need to be 53 minutes long and can be on any subject. The closing date for entries is midnight (GMT) on 31 January 2018. Further details on the competition, including T&C’s and how to enter, are online here

Social media users can keep up to date with the competition on Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #BBCPlay

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