Announced late last week… Over the next year, 12 drama directors will be mentored on one of the BBC’s 4 flagship continuing dramas ("EastEnders," "Holby," "Doctors" and "Casualty"), where they will receive a full credit on one episode of their assigned program.
The shows will all aim to hire directors within nine months for a full directorial commission if the director has shown that they can meet the standards required.
Oliver Kent, Executive Producer of Holby and Casualty, says: “This scheme will be a vital stepping stone which will bring some exciting new directing talent to our shows. We can’t wait to welcome them on board.”
It is the ambition of BBC Drama that this scheme will be the first step towards an ongoing partnership with each of the selected directors and as their careers develop, so will their relationship with the BBC and the wider television drama community.
Beryl Richards, Chair of Directors UK & Chair of Gender Equality Committee, adds: “Directors UK is delighted to be part of the BBC’s Director Development Scheme that moves mentoring support for drama directors into a full directing credit, linked to future employment. It represents a practical response to our ongoing campaign, and is a vital step further in growing proper careers for drama directors who have little opportunity to break through, such as women and black and ethnic minority groups. I would like to see this well planned scheme become the model for the industry to follow; it sets a high bar and we look forward to sharing the learning and good practice that will come out of this work with the rest of the industry.”
This scheme has been developed by BBC Writersroom and is an opportunity for early-career directors to gain practical experience working on continuing dramatic series with the full support of a mentor and production team. It is hoped that, with the continued success of the scheme, a wider, more ethnically and gender-diverse talent pool of directors will start to build and grow for the future – therefore the scheme says it would particularly welcome applications from women, people with disabilities and people from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities backgrounds.
Full details for applicants can be found on the BBC Writersroom website: bbc.co.uk/writersroom. Deadline is September 18, 2015.
One can only assume that this initiative is all part of the BBC’s previously announced diversity push.
For example, earlier this year, making a public statement regarding an increase in diversity, BBC Films boss Christine Langan took on the challenge, saying that the lack of diversity within the UK film & TV industry is "increasingly on BBC’s agenda."
Speaking to ScreenDaily in April, as BBC Films celebrated its 25th anniversary and revealed its upcoming slate, Langan said that diversity increasingly plays a role in the division’s commissioning strategy.
“I can ensure you we are very mindful of it [diversity] and increasingly it is on our agenda. We need to reflect modern Britain and I am engaged in that process,” said Langan, adding that, "The film community needs to create opportunities to pull people through. Commissioning has taken account of it and will continue to do so."