25th International Radio Playwriting Competition

The only global competition for radio playwrights. Find out more about 2015-16's event and explore drama and dramatists with OpenLearn.

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Copyrighted image Copyright: BBC Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the biennial BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition is an opportunity for writers from outside the UK to tell the stories that matter to a world audience. 

The competition has two first prizes—one for writers with English as their first language, and one for those for whom English is a second language. The winners of both prizes will have their plays recorded in London and broadcast on BBC World Service. In addition, the Georgi Markov award honours the shortlisted script which shows the most promise, with the opportunity to take part in a two-week residency with the BBC's London Radio Drama department and with BBC World Service. The Open University is proud to co-produce the competition in partnership with BBC World Service, the British Council and Commonwealth Writers.

Over on FutureLearn, the Start Writing Fiction MOOC started again on the 18th January, and you can still sign up for a great range of practical resources backed up by social support, online forums and peer to peer feedback. If you would rather do the course at your own page, the main course materials are available all year round on OpenLearn, as well as our Start Writing Plays podcast.

If you're already into writing, you can also find even more resources including author interviews, top tips and activities to hone your creative skills. And if you want to take your writing even further, find out what it's like to study creative writing at The Open University. 

About this year's competition

Pericles Silveira and Joanne Gutknecht, winners of the OU/BBC International Playwriting competition Copyrighted image Copyright: BBC This year's winners, Pericles Silveira and Joanne Gutknecht You can find more information about the competition and the judging process by visiting the BBC World Service website. The competition was open to entries from 1 October - 31 January 2016 to anyone over 18 and living outside the UK, whether a new or established writer.

The winning scripts have now been announced. This year over 1,000 entries were received from a record 112 countries, with Papua New Guinea making the shortlist for the very first time. 

The plays include thought-provoking stories with subjects ranging from slavery, war and corruption to a comedy about a maid in India and a hold-up on a train in South Africa. The full shortlist, with winners in bold:

English as a First Language

  • Goodbye Kofi by Bode Asiyanbi (Nigeria)
  • Tomorrow’s Child by Janet Morrison (Jamaica)
  • Easter Island by Anton Krueger (South Africa)
  • Playing With Fire by Joanne Gutknecht (Canada)
    In a remote house in rural Canada, passions rage like the encroaching wildfire in the marriage of Judy and Arnold. Scandal and infidelity threaten to tear them apart, and their disturbed son Daniel can’t stop playing with his dolls. How will they escape the imminent flame?
  • Listening by Leland Frankel (USA)
  • The Virgin Missile Crisis by Hoyt Hilsman (USA)
  • If You Come This Way Again by Lindsay Nightingale (Australia)

English as a Second language

  • The Day Dad Stole a Bus by Pericles Silveira (Brazil)
    Nayara’s father wants her to see her grandmother’s house after the dam disaster in Bento Rodrigues. But why has he stolen a bus to take her there – and why do things keep disappearing?
  • Only Some of Us by Elizabeth Gail (South Africa)
  • The Waterloo by Ifeoluwa Watson (Nigeria)
  • The Confessions by Thomas Hukahu (Papua New Guinea)
  • The Maid Who Made It by Mariam Samah (India)
  • Darkness at Dawn by Erupu Jude (Uganda)
  • Tell Them Where I Am by Ivy Rose Universe Baldoza (Philippines)

Georgi Markov Prize

  • Darkness at Dawn by Erupu Jude (Uganda)
    Having lost his father to the Lord Resistant Army after a brutal attack on his village, Chadwong must make a decision. Should he join the Arrow boys like his best friend Apukun, and fight to avenge his father? How will he care for his pregnant mother and siblings? Unable to reach the food aid his family so desperately needs, circumstances conspire to lead him on a desperate path in order to survive in this lawless, unjust world.

Congratulations to all those who took part. For more information, follow the hashtag #BBCPlay on Twitter or visit the BBC World Service competition Facebook page

Find out more about the competition's history

When dramas or interviews are broadcast on BBC Worldwide Radio, we'll post them here. The 24th competition ran from 2013-2014, with the plays being first broadcast in 2015. You can also find out more about previous winners and their plays at the links below.


Get advice from the experts

Whether you're interested in entering the competition, or you'd like to work on your creative writing skills, OpenLearn is home to a wide variety of videos, podcasts, articles and free courses to get you going. You can listen to interviews with Willy Russell, Bryony Lavery, Mark Ravenhill, Alan Ayckbourn along with many other notable names. Click on the links below to get going.

Go further into creative writing

If you are now inspired to study the subject in more depth, you can find out more about creative writing courses at The Open University