The six finalists in the annual Studio21 Drama Series Script Competition – which is designed to discover the best emerging writers – have been announced, and will each present their projects at Content London next week.
The winner will receive a £10,000 option from Studio21 following a final on stage on Tuesday November 28 at 2.30pm. You can find out more about Studio21 by CLICKING HERE. The Studio21 Drama Series Script Competition is produced in association with C21Media, Content London and Script Angel.
The six projects bidding for glory, representing some of the freshest new voices, are:
Darling of the Right; Enemy of My People
By Mahad Ali
In the cutthroat world of a mayoral campaign, a headteacher’s rise to power takes a harrowing turn when her student dies in police custody. Darling of the Right; Enemy of My People immerses viewers in the gripping politics of City Hall and Whitehall, and combines the political drama of The West Wing with the suspense of Line of Duty. Brace yourself for a riveting clash between justice and political ambition, where London’s destiny hangs by a thread.
Mahad Ali was part of BBC Studios Writers’ Academy 2021, where he worked on continuing drama while developing an original project with BBC Studios. He has recently taken part in the 2022/23 Sky Comedy Rep with Birmingham Rep and Sky Studios, and his play My Brother’s Keeper was part of the 2023 season at Theatre503. Mahad likes to make drama and comedy shows about the black British experience.
By Simon Kay
Rabbit Hole is a half-hour comedy-drama about fertility, loss and coming to terms with the unexpected. After suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage, successful children’s author Harriet finds her life taking a surreal twist when the grown-up and cynical version of the fictional rabbit from her stories, Lucky Rabbit, appears in the flesh and refuses to leave. The series follows Harriet’s difficult fertility journey, using the surrealist comedic device of Lucky Rabbit to explore the darkness with both humour and heart. It’s honest and sincere, dark and funny. And it has a 6ft rabbit in it…
Simon Kay is a writer based in London. After graduating from film school, he started as a runner, working on films, TV shows, commercials and music videos. During this time, he was also involved in the filming of two feature documentaries in Africa, dealing with issues from HIV/AIDS to civil war. After several years as a runner and then a director’s assistant, he became a freelance writer. Since then, alongside writing numerous scripts, he has written more than 900 treatments, pitches and pieces of content for production companies across the world, ranging from commercials, music videos and shorts, to video games, films and TV shows.
In addition to being a Studio21 finalist with Rabbit Hole, he was also an Edinburgh TV Festival New Voice Comedy nominee, a Red Planet Prize finalist, a Filmarket Hub semi-finalist and the winner of the 2022 Emerging Screenwriters Comedy Competition.
By Sally Pitts
Romi Rox is an introvert. Actually, she’s more of a total shut-in. On top of that, she’s an online dating scammer. It’s not very virtuous but it works for her. At least it was working until the people she scammed start turning up dead. Romi vows to find out who’s screwing with her. However, she doesn’t realise this will lead to connecting with the weirdos in her apartment block. Really, they aren’t weirdos at all, just friends she hasn’t made yet. Well, one of them is a total weirdo, and a killer, but Romi doesn’t know that yet…
Sally’s passion for screenwriting began when she grew tired of auditioning for dull girlfriend roles. She began to create her own short films as a way to bring to life the characters she wanted to see. This year her comedy short Wake Up won an audience choice award at DC Shorts, best micro-short at Atlanta Shortsfest and best AZ short at Phoenix Film Festival. And Lunatic, a comedy-horror feature script she co-wrote, was a second-rounder at the Austin Film Festival and a quarter-finalist in Screencraft’s comedy script competition. Sally focuses on writing female characters fuelled by comedy, both dark and light.
The Houdini Detectives
By Harry Mould
In the aftermath of the Great War, Alma and Jessie, a young closeted couple and employees of Harry Houdini, have been sent to Scotland to research fraudulent mediums. But their understanding of life, death and the magic that connects them is challenged beyond belief when they meet Samuel, an unusually mature 11-year-old boy with seemingly sinister abilities, who has accurately predicted the violent death of a neighbour. Genre-bending, sexy and dark, The Houdini Detectives takes inspiration from Houdini’s own writings as well as the science and spiritualism of 1920s Edinburgh.
Harry (they/she) is a queer, mixed-heritage writer, artist, wellbeing facilitator and policy creator specialising in intersectional access, inclusion and advocacy. Last year, they wrote their first play, The Brenda Line, which was commissioned by Pitlochry Festival Theatre for its 2024/25 season, and their debut novel is currently shortlisted for the Merky New Writers Book Prize, an initiative created by Stormzy and Penguin Books. The Houdini Detectives is their first script for television.
By Katy Lynam
While covering the disappearance of a local confectionery tycoon, a cynical young journalist’s life takes a turn for the uncanny when she encounters an ambitious psychic who plans to fake it until they make it, even if it involves a touch of murder. A deadly cat-and-mouse game begins, leading the viewer down a rabbit hole of clairvoyants, séances and table rapping as our journalist is forced to confront the ghosts of her past. Can she stop the psychic before his killer ambition catches up with her?
Katy is a disabled writer from the Midlands who came to writing later in life after literally being hit by a car. Having come face to face with the Grim Reaper and left with life-changing injuries, she re-evaluated her life and decided to make it even more difficult by becoming a writer. Her work has made the quarter-finals of the Raindance Film Festival Script Contest, the top 15% of the BBC Writers Access Room and shortlist for the Slackline Sleepover.
By Berri George and Travis Carter
In the heart of London, graffiti collides with secrets, dreams and unlikely friendships. Love it or hate it, train graffiti is on the rise. With train strikes leaving depots skeleton-staffed, a new breed of daring graff crew is emerging, hungry to etch their names across the city’s rolling canvases. But what’s driving people to this divisive tagging subculture that can cost reputations and, at worst, lives? This raw, gripping four-part drama delves into this rarely examined world, told through the eyes of two perceived misfit loners from different sides of the tracks.
Berri George. Dramatist. Screen and stage. BBC Hot Talent List, BBC Studios Writers’ Academy, Channel 4 Playwright Award, ITV Original Voices, BBC Drama Room, Orange Tree Theatre, Belgrade Critical Mass and Royal Court/Theatre Local Writers’ Group alumna. She has written for continuing dramas Coronation Street, EastEnders and Casualty, and recently completed a Father Brown Cosy Crime Residential. She has an original project in development with Various Artists Ltd/BBC Studios and two original audio dramas on Audible. Plus, her short film Tits (BBC Writersroom/BBC Three) is one of the most viewed films within The Break anthology to date. A range of the UK’s leading new writing venues has staged her theatre work.
Travis Carter. Londoner. Having spent much of his youth being involved in theatre and productions, he has also had the privilege of mentoring from OBE playwright Roy Williams. He gained success as a writer having signed an option deal for his first script, My Generation, with independent production company Timeworks Film. He then went to work with the BBC Young Writers Room, developing animated TV show Soul Catchers. More recently, he has co-written a crime drama, Urban Angels, and optioned a feature-length film titled The Bag with Laurie Cook’s production company NewScope Films.