Stephen Graham, Phil Temple back prize for working-class writers

Stephen Graham, Phil Temple back prize for working-class writers

Stephen Graham Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters’ Matriarch Productions and Phil Temple’s StudioCanal-backed Birdie Pictures are teaming up on Grass Routes, a new initiative to help writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds kickstart their careers and gain proper access to the TV industry. 


The winner of the Grass Routes Prize will receive £5,000, with the two prodcos also paying a further amount to option the script. 


The writer will then develop their project with Matriarch and Birdie before pitching it to different buyers. As part of the initiative, the production companies will help the winning writer obtain an agent, and arrange meetings with other leading industry writers, directors, producers, script executives and commissioners. 

Hannah WaltersThe panel of judges will be Stephen Graham (pictured above), Hannah Walters (pictured left) Phil Temple, Ashley Walters, Kayleigh Llewellyn, Lewis Arnold and Theresa Ikoko. The deadline for submissions is Monday, 8 January, 2024.


“I have bemoaned the lack of working class voices in TV for a long time, so now is a good time to do something about it with brilliant, like-minded people. I can’t wait to work with this team to find untapped talent”, commented Temple.  “Many industries are unrepresentative of wider society in regard to socio-economic background.  Nowhere is this truer than in creative professions, including television, where writers work on a freelance basis with no job security and no guarantee of income.”


Walters and Graham said: “What an incredible opportunity to be able to give an undiscovered writer a platform to showcase their work, we feel this project is imperative to help move our industry forward and give voices a chance to truly be heard. So excited to see the wealth of talent that’s out there.”


Phil Temple Walters, Graham and Temple (pictured right) added: “Matriarch and Birdie want to help provide fairer access to the TV industry, and whilst there have been great strides in reaching different underrepresented groups recently, we think that socio-economic background still remains a key barrier to entry, and that becoming a successful writer shouldn’t be less achievable for those from lower income families.”


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