International Radio Playwriting Competition 2020 by British Council and BBC World

The International Radio Playwriting Competition, hosted by BBC World Service and the British Council, offers the unique opportunity for playwrights to have their radio play heard across the world by the BBC World Service’s millions of listeners.

Whether an established or a completely new writer, the competition welcomes scripts from anyone outside of the UK. The radio dramas can be on any subject one likes, as long as they are 53 minutes long.


This competition is an important part of the British Council’s programme developing new playwrights around the world, discovering new talent, helping global artists find new opportunities, and connecting with the UK. Sharing stories is a powerful way for them to connect with different cultures, explore difficult issues and be inspired by fresh voices. The organizers are looking forward to reading the inventive scripts for this year’s competition.

Entering the competition can be a life changing experience. “I don’t care if you’ve got three jobs and five children, write your play.” said Kwame Kwei-Armah, who was a panellist for the 2008 competition. “Just write it, this is such an opportunity. You can come to London, you can have your play looked at by the BBC, you could have your play broadcast to millions on air.” Therefore, if one has a compelling story to tell, he/she shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to have it broadcast globally.

About the play to be submitted

The play can be on any subject anyone likes and should be approximately 53 minutes length (this is a word count of approximately 9000-10,000 words). The play should have a maximum of six central characters (although there may be up to three small “doubling” characters who don’t have more than a few lines each). There must be no central roles for children.


Online, United Kingdom


  • The two winners will have their plays recorded and broadcast on BBC World Service.
  • They will also receive £2,500 sterling and a trip to London (including airfare and accommodation for one person) where they will attend an award ceremony.
  • Special Commendation in the name of the writer Georgi Markov will also be rewarded to the play with most potential on the shortlist.


The applicants should meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Entry to the International Radio Playwriting Competition 2020 is open to anyone over the age of 18 (as of 31 January 2020), who is not normally a resident of the United Kingdom.
  • Both new and established writers are encouraged to apply.
  • There are two categories for entry. One is for entrants who speak English as a first language, the other for entrants with English as a second language. The BBC may require proof of eligibility for the second category.

Eligible Regions: Open for All except UK

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