You are here

BAFTA takes British comedy writing stars of the future to New York – winners announced

18 September 2012
BAFTA Rocliffe Comedy Writers in 2012

For a second year, emerging writers will participate in a BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum at the annual New York Television Festival.

London, Tuesday 18 September 2012: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the winners of a nationwide competition to find the UK’s most promising comedy television writers and will take them to the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), where they will mix with leading professionals in the US television industry.

This international initiative is a special incarnation of the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, the Academy’s flagship writing programme which has been running in the UK, in partnership with Rocliffe for twelve years, and follows a successful inaugural event in New York in 2011.

Sarah Courtauld, Nicolas Small, and writing partners Kayleigh Llewellyn and Matthew Barry will fly to New York courtesy of British Airways and have their work performed live in front of high profile NYTVF industry attendees at a special BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum on 25 October at 92Y Tribeca.

The judging process involved four rounds of voting and the best scripts were read by two juries headed up by Andrew Newman, Chair of BAFTA’s Television Committee and Chief Executive of Objective Productions, in the UK and Terence Gray, Director of the New York Television Festival, in the US. The juries included BAFTA members from London and New York representing writers, producers and acting talent from BAFTA-winning and nominated shows, including Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Chris Addison (The Thick of It), Damon Beesley (The Inbetweeners), John Morton (Twenty Twelve) and representatives from all major UK broadcasters. Rocliffe sent a detailed script report to each of the hundreds of applicants to help them develop their writing and story skills.

Sarah Courtauld (aged 31) is a writer, performer and award-winning author of children’s books. She studied English at Trinity College Dublin, and is a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers programme. Sarah’s winning submission, The Slush Pile, is loosely based on her experiences in publishing, and is set in the fictional Kodiak Books where hapless editor Annie struggles with an eccentric boss, a bewildering assistant, and a series of unhelpful authors.

Nicolas Small (aged 32) began his career working in development for Tribeca Productions in New York, before becoming a Talent Manager for One Entertainment. He later began writing himself and is currently writing a feature film for Revolver/Gunslinger and developing television ideas for Warp and Big Talk Productions. His winning submission, Happy as Larry, is about a suicidal self-help guru who begins to invert his own advice in an attempt to change his life.

Writing partners Kayleigh Llewellyn and Matthew Barry (both aged 26) grew up near Cardiff and met at school aged 11. Kayleigh trained as an actress at Drama Studio London, and splits her time between performing and writing. Matthew trained and worked as an actor before moving into writing. He regularly writes for EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty, and his original mini-series, Perfect Summer, was nominated for a BAFTA Cymru Award in 2010. The pair’s winning submission, Grey, features a gang of best friends who, nearing the winter of their lives, decide to start living.

As well as having their work performed by professional actors at the NYTVF, the winning writers will receive: a networking workshop and one-to-one mentoring sessions with producers and literary agents before arriving in New York; designation as an ‘Official Artist’, providing comprehensive access to all festival premieres, hospitality events, panels, screenings and special one-on-one meetings with US TV development executives as well as submission opportunities to NYTVF Pitch; and membership of NYTVF Connect, the festival’s industry programme that distributes scripts to executives and networks in advance of the festival.

Andrew Newman, Chair of BAFTA’s Television Committee, said:

“BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum at the NYTVF has yet again unearthed some really exciting new scriptwriters. With the winners getting a trip to New York to attend the festival and network with the cream of the US TV industry, we are pleased to promote their work on an international stage, and have high hopes that we will be hearing more from them in the future.”

Terence Gray, Founder of the NYTVF, said:

“We are honoured to work with BAFTA and the Rocliffe Forum to extend new opportunities for talented UK-based writers to have their work seen by industry decision-makers here in the US. On behalf of our industry partners, artistic community and staff, I extend a hearty congratulations to the finalists and look forward to welcoming them as Official Artists to the eighth annual New York Television Festival next month.”

Farah Abushwesha, Founder of Rocliffe, said:
“Since the Forum’s inception in 2000, participants have gone on to award-winning success, including Jack Thorne, James Dormer, Claire Wilson and Josh Appignanesi. Last year’s winners have had doors opened including commissions, representation and building of international contacts. More than 400 people submitted scripts to this year’s call and now four new undiscovered British comedy writers have the rare and career-changing opportunity to have their work performed in front of prominent US television industry executives. It’s truly a golden ticket for the selected writers.”

Chris Addison, comedian, writer, actor and jury member, said:

“However good someone's writing it's never been a walk in the park for new people to get their scripts away so it's good to have schemes like the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum to allow new writers with fresh ideas to be read, heard and seen. It was exciting and encouraging to see the sheer variety of styles and ideas in the scripts we read; there was no sense that people were trying to copy something that they've seen be successful elsewhere, rather that they were interested in creating their own thing, which is exactly what's needed for good comedy.”

The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum takes place on Thursday 25 October at 92|Y TRIBECA, 200 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10013. For tickets please visit:
The writers will be blogging about their experiences for BAFTA.

For more details, visit