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WFTV Unveils the 2023 Cohort of its Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab, Nurturing Emerging Female Talent

Updated: Jan 4

Women in Film and Television UK (WFTV) is pleased to announce the 2023 cohort of its WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab, which started on Monday 2 October 2023.

This week, WFTV UK launched its inaugural WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab 2023, sponsored by Miss Scarlet Limited, to spotlight and support emerging female writing talent in the film and TV industry. Kay was a lifelong champion of women in the industry, both in front of and behind the camera. The annual WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab will honour Kay’s contribution to the industry and continue her legacy in screenwriting by nurturing the next wave of female writing talent.

Meet the talented writers of the 2023 cohort:

  • Beth Bennett

  • Catherine Newell

  • Chloe Hudson

  • Christine McVie

  • Isabelle Blanche

  • Mariem Omari

  • Pasha Tong

  • Preethi Manuel

  • Rebecca Osias

  • Rekha Keshvara

  • Rhianne Deans

  • Sarah Louise Madden

  • Shay Elliot

Hosted at the Arvon Foundation’s Lumb Bank house located in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, the 5-day writers’ lab is a fully funded opportunity for the 13 screenwriters with the programme consisting of craft writing masterclasses and workshops led by course tutors Lisa Holdsworth (Ackley Bridge, Call the Midwife, Waterloo Road) and Olivia Hetreed (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Wuthering Heights).

In addition, evening sessions include a conversation with Happy Valley creator and writer Sally Wainwright OBE, and Life in Pictures – a retrospective look at Kay Mellor’s work with Yvonne Francas-Mellor and Gaynor Mellor, Managing Director and Creative Director at Rollem Productions.

The WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab has been launched to support emerging writers who are actively working on original scripts and looking to attract industry interest in their work to take them to the next stage of their career and achieve their first film or TV screenwriting credit; whether that is looking to be represented by an Agent or Manager or pitching their project to independent production companies.

The lab is an opportunity for writers to work intensely on one script which is at final draft stage and develop it over the course of the lab to be pitch ready, create a network of peers and industry colleagues, build confidence in their craft, and develop their writing voice in a supportive and distraction free environment.

Katie Bailiff, CEO at WFTV UK says:

Women in Film & TV UK is thrilled to launch this new initiative which supports emerging writers and brings them together for the first WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab. Kay Mellor was a talented trailblazer, we’re delighted to honour her contribution to the industry and continue her screenwriting legacy by inspiring a new wave of female screenwriters in film and TV.

Patty Lenahan Ishimoto of Miss Scarlet Limited says,

By sponsoring WFTV's Kay Mellor Screenwriters' Lab we hope to inspire, incentivise and support talented women to similarly break ground and pursue a career in storytelling through content creation whether writing, producing, directing or other media.

Yvonne Francas-Mellor (Managing Director) & Gaynor Mellor (Creative Director) at Rollem Productions say:

We are thrilled that the inaugural WFTV Kay Mellor Screenwriters’ Lab is underway, and grateful to the team at WFTV and Miss Scarlet Limited for making it happen. To continue Kay’s legacy in this way is a perfectly fitting tribute, and we hope it provides a step-up into the industry for these 13 wonderful women.

About Kay Mellor

Born and bred in Leeds, Kay Mellor was a unique talent in the industry, creating some of the most talked about TV and stage shows in the country. A director, actress and executive producer as well as a writer, Kay was perhaps best known for creating ground-breaking drama series such as Band of Gold, Fat Friends and The Syndicate.

Kay was always passionate about mentoring emerging talent – she worked closely with new writers to develop their ideas for television and stage through schemes with the BBC and Leeds Playhouse. Rollem came from her desire to tell real stories, to work with local people and to shine a spotlight on creativity. Rollem continues along the trail she blazed to honour her incredible legacy and ensure the next generation of writing talent get their voices heard.

Kay was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Award in 1997 for Outstanding Writing for Television. She was appointed an OBE in the 2009 Birthday Honours, and in 2014 she was awarded the Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Contribution to Writing. She also received a Fellowship for significant contribution to television from the Royal Television Society in November 2016.

About Miss Scarlet Limited

Miss Scarlet Limited has produced four series of Miss Scarlet and the Duke (Alibi/MasterpiecePBS). Miss Scarlet is the story of the fictional Eliza Scarlet who through her persistence and determination becomes London’s first female private detective.

The Miss Scarlet team is composed of Patty Lenahan Ishimoto, Patrick Irwin, Jin Ishimoto and Harvey Myman together with creator/showrunner Rachael New and her writing partner Ben Edwards. In addition to Miss Scarlet and the Duke their span of credits includes The Fall, Clean Sweep and Trollied. The driving force for the team is to produce compelling, story-driven content with an authentic voice to meet the demands of a discriminating global television audience.

About Rollem

Rollem is a production company with a difference - female-led, genuinely independent and based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Set up in 2000 by BAFTA award-winning writer Kay Mellor OBE to produce her hugely successful ITV drama series Fat Friends, Rollem has gone on to produce a host of hit shows including: The Syndicate, In the Club, A Passionate Woman, Girlfriends and My Left Nut to name a few.

Rollem champions new writers and creative talent in all its forms and is dedicated to producing TV and Film which is relatable, innovative, and original. But above all, Rollem is passionate about producing drama and comedy that audiences across the world love to watch and re-watch. We tell stories that resonate.

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