Sharma Walfall and Nuzhat Ali have won the Channel 4 (in partnership with Northumbria University) Writing for Television Award – a new award that seeks to identify raw and diverse writing talent from the North of England.
The award is one of the many initiatives launched as part of Channel 4’s 360 Degree Diversity Charter launched earlier this year.
Sharma and Nuzhat were selected from 264 entrants to win the award, which offers them the unique opportunity to be mentored through the script commissioning process with Lime Pictures and RED Production Company. As part of the judging process, six finalists pitched their ideas earlier this spring.
From July 2015, the 2 winning writers will spend 10 months being mentored by Lime Pictures and RED Production Company.
Lee Mason, Commissioning Editor, Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 is committed to creating opportunities that support new talent and find diverse voices, so we are delighted to be working with Northumbria University and New Writing North on the first Channel 4/Northumbria University Writing for Television Awards.
“The awards offer a unique opportunity for emerging writers to work alongside some of the best producers in the industry, gaining experience and building knowledge with the support of Lime Pictures and RED Productions. We were very impressed by the quality of writing that we encountered in this year’s submissions, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with Northumbria University and New Writing North to support and develop writing talent across the North.”
Sharma Walfall, from Manchester, will be mentored by Lime Pictures, the makers of Channel 4 drama series "Hollyoaks," where she will shadow the process of script development, from first draft to broadcast script. This may lead to a commission to write an original episode of "Hollyoaks" that will be broadcast on Channel 4.
Sharma Walfall said: “It means the world to me and feels a bit unreal to have won the competition. I’m extremely grateful for the award. To have the chance to work with and learn from the Hollyoaks team at Lime Pictures is unbelievable.”
Di Burrows, Producer, Lime Pictures said: “Sharma’s script sample was full of real characters, raw energy and insight which really made it stand out for us. She’s hungry to tell stories, has a fresh, original voice, an infectious enthusiasm and is bursting with ideas. We look forward to welcoming her on board Hollyoaks, harnessing all that passion and imagination and helping her to realise her dream.”
Nuzhat Ali, from Bradford, has won the award attached to RED Production Company, whose recent productions include Cucumber, Banana and Tofu. Nuzhat will receive mentoring in script development from top television professionals, who will support her towards pitching her own ideas for broadcast.
Nuzhat Ali said: “I am really looking forward to working with RED Production Company and am hoping that this opportunity will take my writing to a professional level.”
Caroline Hollick, Creative Director, RED Production Company said: “Nurturing raw talent is what we strive to do and we were impressed by all of the finalists. We’re going to stay in touch with all of them, as they are all interesting new voices.”
“However, for us there was one clear winner, and that was Nuzhat Ali. We were blown away by her passion, her strength of opinion, and wealth of interesting experience.”