BBC Audio Drama teaching and learning

Writing Audio Drama by Tim Crook published by Routledge 31st March 2023

Book Description

Writing Audio Drama offers a comprehensive and intelligent guide to writing sound drama for broadcasting and online. This book uses original research on the history of writing radio plays in the UK and USA to explore how this has informed and developed the art form for more than 100 years.

Audio drama in the context of podcasting is now experiencing a global and exponential expansion. Through analysis of examples of past and present writing, the author explains how to create drama which can explore deeply psychological and intimate themes and achieve emotional, truthful, entertaining and thought-provoking impact. Practical analysis of the key factors required to write successful audio drama is covered in chapters focusing on audio play beginnings and openings, sound story dialogue, sustaining the sound story, plotting for sound drama, and the best ways of ending audio plays. Chapters are supported by online resources which expand visually on subjects discussed and point to exemplary sound dramas referenced in the chapters.

This textbook will be an important resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses such as Podcasting, Radio, Audio Drama, Scriptwriting, and Media Writing.

The content of all the companion web-pages for this project is in the process of development, and completion is expected 31st July 2023 following the publication of the printed book 31st March 2023. Many thanks for your patience and consideration.

BBC Radio Drama resources

The BBC is the leading and only major sustained producer and broadcaster of radio drama in the UK. You can hear the output live and every production is normally online for ‘listen again’ periods. Production resources and output is now often shared between the online ‘BBC Sounds’ and legacy broadcast networks such as BBC 4, 3 and BBC 4 Extra.

BBC Radio 4 Drama BBC Radio 4 Drama Episodes BBC Radio 4 Drama of the Week Podcasts

Image galleries of BBC Radio 4 Drama productions

Recommended strands;

BBC Radio 4

Afternoon play. Weekdays 2.15 to 3 p.m. (the main market for new writers)

The Saturday play. Saturdays at 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. (sometimes 1 and a half hours to 4 p.m.)

The Classic Serial. Sundays 3 to 4 p.m., repeated Saturday nights at 9 p.m.

BBC Radio 3.

The Sunday play. Usually Sunday nights from 8.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Wire. Showcase for works that push the boundaries of drama and narrative. Usually Saturday nights at 9 p.m. for 45 to 50 minutes.

It is also worth listening to the digital station BBC R4 Extra that outputs a considerable amount of radio drama archive and comedy.

Recommended summary of audio play-writing advice from BBC World Service competition page (last updated 2012 and archived).

The International Radio Playwriting Competition 2020. Ten tips for writing a play for radio.

BBC Writers’ Room

Scriptwriting essentials

1. Developing your idea

All ideas are only as good as the characters that drive them, and all good ideas need to be dramatic.

2. Know What You Want to Write

Strong scripts know what they are and what they are trying to do.

3. Beginnings (and Endings)

Knowing where to start with the story that you tell is inextricably linked to the ending you are trying to reach.

4. The Muddle in the Middle

The difficulty with many scripts and stories is the middle – the stretch that connects the beginning with the end.

5. Characters Bring Your Words to Life

Characters are the thing that separate great scripts from only competent scripts – and great writers from only competent writers.

6. Scenes

A scene is the combination of time, place and setting you use to frame and show a significant moment or event in the story.

7. Dialogue

Dialogue is not just about what characters say – it’s about what they express by what they say.

8. Writing is Rewriting

So you’ve developed your idea, worked out what kind of story and experience it is, created characters, structured the story, brought it to scenic life, and voiced the characters. You have a draft and it feels like an achievement.

Paul Ashton’s Perfect 10. Blog at BBC Writers Room

1. Medium, Form and Format

2. Get your story going!

3. Coherence

4. Character is Everything

5. Emotion

6. Surprise!

7. Structure

8. Exposition and Expression

9. Passion

10. Be Yourself

Script Room latest: radio drama

By Paul Ashton Tuesday 14 May 2013, 10:28

John Yorke’s 10 Questions

John Yorke’s 10 Questions are used by top TV writers all over the UK to unlock and refine their stories:

Writing Radio Drama

Radio drama is the most intimate relationship a scriptwriter can have with their audience, and yet it can also cheaply create anything that you can imagine.

Monday-Friday 10:45-11am Radio 4 (repeated at 19.45 weekdays)

15 Minute Drama – Short form (15min) commissioned in multiples of 5, ideally a series with individual stories in each episode or short term stories that mature over 5 or 10 episodes.

Monday-Friday 2:15-3.00pm Radio 4

Afternoon Drama – Daily narrative drama strand. A complete story that is imaginative, accessible and entertaining.

Saturday 2:30-3:30pm Radio 4

Saturday Drama –  Enjoyment and escapism. For example: love stories, thrillers, and extraordinary personal stories.

Sunday (time varies) Radio 3

Drama on 3 – Radical drama, classics and new theatre productions.

BBC Radio 4 Drama

BBC Radio Drama Podcast of the week

BBC Sounds produces podcast/online drama, which is also broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Examples. Doctor Who: Redacted

When a terrifying phenomenon starts redacting the Doctor from reality, three queer women become the world’s only hope. #DoctorWhoRedacted

Lusus What happens when your neuroses come to life? What shape will they take? Lusus is a brand new psychological horror podcast starring Ncuti Gatwa, Morfydd Clark and Alistair Petrie.

Life Lines Podcast

Al Smith’s award-winning series set in an ambulance control room.

BBC Radio Four Extra Podcasts and Podcast Radio Hour

Script Library – Radio Drama

Scripts from the BBC Radio Drama archive

Making Radio Drama – the bad news and the good news

Friday 7 March 2014, 12:35 by Stephen Wyatt

Writing for Radio – Find Your ‘Itch’

Thursday 28 August 2014, 10:50 by Al Smith

The Writer’s Prize commission: Bang Up

Thursday 8 August 2013, 11:51 by Sarah Hehir

Creating Home Front – Radio 4’s epic new First World War drama

Friday 1 August 2014, 11:54 by Jessica Dromgoole

Red Velvet – Rediscovering Ira Aldridge

Thursday 17 July 2014, 14:40 by Lolita Chakrabarti

Writing The Archers: From idea to airwaves

Monday 21 October 2013, 9:15 by Keri Davies

Five things I know about writing The Archers

Tuesday 22 October 2013, 12:25 by Carole Salazzo

Gordon House talking about key things when writing radio plays. 1 Nov 1996

Launch of the International Radio Playwriting Competition. BBC World Service. Spotlight

Technical presentation or sound design for radio drama. BBC World Service Spotlight. 21st July 1996.

10 tips for writing a radio play. 2020 BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition

My Shakespeare Radio Drama at 90. The first radio drama, a scene from Julius Caesar, was broadcast 90 years ago. Now performed by Harriet Walter and Jenny Jules from Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Donmar Warehouse production. Introduced by Jeremy Mortimer Published on February 16, 2013.


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