Writing an Original TV Drama Serial
Write a pilot episode & outline for an original TV drama serial, with masterclasses from top TV professionals and Curtis Brown TV agents.
Mar 01 2021 - Jul 05 2021
Teaching via live Zoom lessons and our Learn Platform
We offer places to the most talented applicants
Course Fee £2,500
Work on your idea with TV drama professionals
During this 18-week online course, fifteen talented writers will each develop an idea for a six-part serial, write a 60-minute pilot episode and evolve a plan for a further five episodes – supported by the expert teaching of celebrated TV-dramatist Colin Teevan (former Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck). Each writer will also receive an in-depth one-to-one tutorial from an experienced script editor as well as a series of five masterclasses from leading TV-industry professionals. Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television agents will deliver a pitching session – and each writer will have the opportunity to share materials with the agent team at the end of the course.
This online course will help students to develop their work to the best of its potential and will also be highly practical – giving a real-world education about what the industry is looking for and how to pitch their work effectively. Across the eighteen weeks, students will work on a range of important materials as well as writing their pilot script and workshopping extracts from it. They’ll be getting advice from top professionals on how to develop their idea, and on how to write pitches, outlines, treatments, character biographies, scenes and sequences, series overviews, and more.
The group will meet online on Monday evenings at 7pm (UK-time) via Zoom, excluding bank holidays where teaching sessions will happen on Tuesday (please see schedule below for details). These sessions are designed to replicate the structure and content of our in-person course as closely as possible, with the lovely group vibe and dynamic discussions with the tutor and agents that you’d get in the classroom. In addition, students will enjoy access to our bespoke online Learn platform, which will enable the sharing of resources, handouts and homework tasks, and provide an opportunity to continue in-depth interaction and discussion of the workshop material with the group outside of the weekly Zoom sessions.
While we don’t guarantee that students will find representation with Curtis Brown, our agents will be on the look-out for exciting new talent and will call in the full scripts of writers whose work they particularly connect with.
In the nine years since we’ve started Curtis Brown Creative, over 100 of our novel-writing students have gone on to get major publishing deals for their novels, including Jane Harper (The Dry), Kate Hamer (The Girl in the Red Coat), Nicholas Searle (The Good Liar is now a major feature film starring Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren) and Jessie Burton, whose debut The Miniaturist sold more than a million copies and became a BBC mini-serial. Read more about the published authors who’ve studied with us here. Our new course in Writing an Original TV Drama Serial has been in gestation for some time now, and we are thrilled to be running it for the second time with the support of Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department.
Colin Teevan, Screenwriter
Colin Teevan is a celebrated playwright, translator, and writer for screen. He is writer, creator, and executive producer of Rebellion (RTE, Netflix) seasons 1 and 2 and lead writer, showrunner, and executive producer on Das Boot (Bavaria Fiction/Sky TV) seasons 2 and 3. He is also the writer and creator of Charlie (RTE), three original films starring Aidan Gillen, who won an IFTA for Best Performance. His other work for television includes Silk (BBC) starring Maxine Peake, Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Single Handed (ITV). Colin currently has several new original drama serials in development with, amongst others, Warp, Freemantle, UFA (Germany), and Bavaria Fiction. Colin's theatre pieces have been produced by many leading British theatres including the National, the Young Vic, the Soho Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland. He is Emeritus Professor of Screenwriting and Playwriting at Birkbeck, University of London where he has lectured for over twelve years. He has also been a visiting lecturer in stage and screenwriting at UEA, Durham, Newcastle, and Queen's Belfast.
Clare Alan, Script Editor
Clare Alan is a script editor and producer who has worked on a range of TV and film projects in the UK and Ireland. Her script editing credits include Solomon & Gaenor by Paul Morrison and controversial C4 factual drama The Investigator by Barbara Machin for September films, Dangerfield and Silent Witness for the BBC, and four series of The Vice for ITV. Clare moved to Touchpaper TV as head of development in 2001 and began producing on shows by Julian Fellowes, Barry Simner, Edna O’Brien and Colin Teevan. In 2017 she set up Pamela Productions where she worked on ReefTV’s biopic of Mahler for BBC Music & Arts, Draco by Clive Bradley and A New Dawn by Bronagh Taggart for BBC Northern Ireland. She has also worked as executive producer on C4’s new writing and directing scheme Coming Up.
WHAT DOES THIS COURSE GIVE YOU?
Five Industry Masterclasses
Top TV professionals share their expertise
During these special Zoom sessions leading figures from all key stages of the production process will guide students through the process of drama development, with focus on students' work.
Led by Colin Teevan
On ten evenings, Colin Teevan will lead group workshops live on Zoom giving dedicated feedback on 2,000-word extracts of your pilot script. Each student gets two workshops focused on their own work across the course.
Led by Colin Teevan
In the second half of his ten Zoom classes, Colin will teach on topics important for developing and writing a TV drama serial – and which support the masterclasses.
Choose what to bring to your tutorial with Colin
You'll get a 25-minute one-to-one video/phone tutorial with Colin Teevan, who will read up to 2,000 words from your work ahead of time. You decide whether to show him script material, outline, pitch etc.
Agent Pitching Session
Pitch your serial to the Curtis Brown agents
TV agents from Curtis Brown will read and listen to your pitches and give verbal feedback to help you sharpen them. They'll also talk about the agent's role and answer questions.
Tutorial with a Script Editor
Get expert feedback from Clare Alan
Near the end of the course, you'll get a 45-minute video/phone tutorial with professional script editor Clare Alan, who will read your 50-word pitch, the first 30 pages of your pilot script and a 300-word outline of the rest of the serial and give a valuable industry-oriented perspective.
The hub of our online courses – find your writing community
We have developed a bespoke learning platform exclusively for our students. Here you can give and receive feedback, and discuss the week’s topics with your fellow students.
Share Your Work with Agents
A chance to share material with the Curtis Brown agents
At course end you'll have the chance to informally share with the agent team the first fifteen pages of your pilot script (max 2,200 words) plus 50-word pitch and 300-word outline for the series. Agents may request to see more.
MASTERCLASSES FROM TV PROFESSIONALS
This course will feature a series of five special masterclasses delivered by TV professionals – organised and ordered to reflect the process of real-world television drama development. Students will be asked to prepare a specific piece of work relating to their own project for each of these sessions. The masterclass will start out with the guest TV professional giving the inside track on their role to demystify it for the students, and answering their questions – and will then move on to discussion of the students’ work. Each guest professional will discuss in detail the work of three students – and will do so in such a way as to be educational for the whole group. Each student will have their work specifically considered in one of these masterclasses (see the schedule below for details of the focus of each masterclass and the work to be completed).
Working with other writers
We pride ourselves on the tightly-knit writing communities that are established on our courses. As well as getting feedback on your work-in-progress during the course, we’ll be asking you to read the work of your fourteen fellow students week by week, and provide constructive comments (both in writing and verbally at the group workshop sessions). We find the process of offering feedback to others helps you to reach important conclusions about your own work and sharpen your material. On ten evenings across the course (as detailed in the schedule), three students will have 10–12 pages of their pilot script (up to 2,000 words on each occasion) workshopped by the rest of the group and the tutor. It’ll be your turn to get the group’s dedicated workshop attention twice during the course.
Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your script in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level.
The course fee of £2,500 (inc VAT) per student is payable, in full, by bank transfer. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. If you are unable to pay the full fee upfront, let us know and we can arrange an instalment plan.
Please upload your application via the form below. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Masterclass Tutors and Agents
Read about the industry professionals who’ll be teaching the student group in our five special masterclass sessions – and the agents who’ll be giving feedback on your pitches (full details of contributors will be added here as soon as they are available).
All live sessions will take place via Zoom. The masterclasses and the workshops and teaching sessions with Colin Teevan all run from 7pm–8.45pm (with tutorials immediately prior to class – 6pm-7pm). UK time.
The masterclasses and the agent pitch session are all hosted on Zoom by a Curtis Brown TV agent or a member of the Curtis Brown Creative team.
Monday 1 March
Introductory session with Colin Teevan and CBC’s Managing Director Anna Davis. Colin and Anna will welcome the group to the course, explain how everything works and share what students should do to get the most out of the 18 weeks.
Monday 8 March
Teaching from Colin Teevan on what is a pitch and how to develop your core idea, and discussing some Aristotelian principles – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Monday 15 March
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to develop your central character and how this translates into story and story arc – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Masterclass 1: Showrunner/Writer
Monday 22 March
Award-winning screenwriter Tony Saint will give the inside track on his role, and lead a masterclass on refining your pitch and central character – with focus on three students’ character biographies (50 word pitch, 350 word character outline). (These are absolute maximums – there are seldom extra minutes granted in TV!)
Plotting the Serial
Monday 29 March
Teaching from Colin Teevan – how to plot your serial; where to start and where to aim for both your series and your whole serial, plus exploring plot development – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Masterclass 2: Producer
Monday 12 April
Our guest producer Julie Gardner, co founder of Bad Wold Productions, will talk about her work on shows such as Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Being Human etc. and lead a masterclass which focuses on the now honed pitch (50 word) and outline for the serial as a whole (350 words) – with focus on three students’ work.
Plotting the Pilot
Monday 19 April
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to plot an episode, once more considering plot development on a episode level and finding the right place to start your story – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Masterclass 3: Script Editor
Monday 26 April
Script editor Clare Alan will give the inside track on her role, and lead a masterclass which centres on how to write the treatment for your pilot – with focus on three students’ treatments – five pages (maximum 1,250 words).
Scene-writing 1: Structure
Tuesday 4 May
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to write scenes focusing on dramatic structure – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Scene-writing 2: Point of View
Monday 10 May
Teaching from Colin Teevan on how to write scenes focusing on the key question of point of view and how to write to it – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Masterclass 4: Commissioner/Executive Producer
Monday 17 May
Our guest producer TBC will give the inside track on their role and lead a masterclass on the serial overview – with focus on three students’ work (2–4 pages overview, maximum 1,500 words plus images).
Scene-writing 3: Writing Through Action
Monday 24 May
Teaching from Colin Teevan on telling story and character through action (and reaction), with a focus on the uses of the action sequence – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Dramatic Time and Pace
Monday 1 June
Teaching from Colin Teevan on dramatic time – how to create a sense of time and dramatic pace within your drama and using effective cutting and juxtaposition of scenes to achieve this – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Masterclass 5: Director
Monday 7 June
Our guest director Philip John, who has worked on TV shows such as Downtown Abbey, Being Human and Outlander, will give the inside track on his role, and lead a masterclass on scenes – with focus on three students’ scenes or sequences (10 minutes of material – 1600 words of text max including all stage directions).
Endings and Rewriting
Monday 14 June
Teaching from Colin Teevan on finding the right place to conclude your drama on an episode, series and overall serial level, plus the joys, dangers and importance of ‘the rewrite’! – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
Monday 21 June
Colin Teevan’s final full teaching session will help students to prepare for their pitching session with the agents and get answers to questions that are troubling them – plus a workshop focusing on extracts from three students’ pilot scripts.
The Pitch - with TV agents from Curtis Brown
Monday 28 June
Agents from Curtis Brown’s Theatre, Film and Television department will talk about the role of the agent and give advice on how to pitch. They’ll then run a pitch workshop – listening to the pitches of all fifteen students and giving their verbal feedback.
Monday 5 July
Colin Teevan and Anna Davis (CBC’s MD) will lead a concluding session, looking at next steps for students.