Writer, radio/TV/film

Creates and develops scripts for TV and radio programmes.

Job description

Writers create and develop scripts for TV and radio programmes. Examples of TV and radio projects they might work on include comedies, dramas and documentaries. They regularly liaise with directors, producers and script editors.

Writers for television, radio and film will work within a production team at various stages: from the inception of a concept/idea for a series or film, to the formulation of a script. They may work to very tight deadlines, which vary according to the type of production: for example soap operas and radio shows have numerous weekly episodes and so demand a very quick turnover of scripts. In comparison, a film writer sometimes has more time to develop their ideas.

Writing for each genre requires a sensitivity and understanding of differences and nuances of writing conventions. Radio writers may have to consider more detail in terms of directions for sounds effects or further explanatory text, whereas film and TV writers have to think about directions for gestures, body language or movements for actors. The industry is extremely competitive, making talent and unique ideas crucial in order to progress.

Work activities

  • Collaborating with producers to generate original ideas for programmes, series and films.
  • Writing and developing scripts to meet requirements.
  • Providing advice on scripts.
  • Meeting deadlines.

Work conditions

  • Travel: much writing takes place at home, or in an office when it is necessary to meet with production teams/other writers.
  • Working hours: can be long and involve tight deadlines.
  • Location: frequent relocation may necessary for freelancers as many contracts are short-term.

Entry requirements

A degree in a subject such as English, creative writing or theatre studies may be useful, but is not essential. Natural talent is vital. Approaching TV channels and broadcasting companies with script drafts may help to get work recognised within the industry, for example, BBC Writersroom receives and reads unsolicited scripts.

TV series development schemes, script development training and competitions also provide experience, professional feedback, and possible entry into the industry. Another option may be to work as a production assistant.