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Channel 4 launches training scheme for BME screenwriters

IN TRAINING: Channel 4 is encouraging aspiring screenwriters from a black or ethnic minority background to apply to its training scheme

ASPIRING SCREENWRITERS will be given the opportunity to be trained by one of the UK's biggest television networks in a new writing scheme.

Channel 4 is to launch a new writing programme aimed at developing writers from diverse backgrounds.

Studio4 will run over 12 months and will have a particular focus on developing writers from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

The project is a partnership with Acme Films and is also supported by Creative Skillset.

The programme's first stage will select eight writers to develop their pitches for a Channel 4 or E4 series, reported The Stage.

Over the course of the programme, the writers will be provided with access, training and expertise from Channel 4, Acme and Creative Skillset.

The process will conclude with two writers being chosen to undergo an intensive development period, which will result in their ideas being considered by the channel for commission.

Deputy head of drama at Channel 4 Beth Willis, who will act as a mentor during the process, said: "Studio4 will give these [BME] writers the chance to fast track their ideas with script commissions and regular support from experienced writers, script editors and producers as well as the commissioners at Channel 4."

Studio4's launch comes as Channel 4 also announces the appointment of two executives dedicated to improving diversity on and off-screen.

Nina Bhagwat will be the channel's off-screen diversity executive, while the second new executive, Ramy El-Bergamy, will focus on tackling diversity on-screen.

They will both work to raise awareness of issues around diversity as well as with commissioning teams to help embed commissioning diversity guidelines.

The pair have been appointed by Channel 4's creative diversity manager Ade Rawcliffe, who said: "At Channel 4, diversity isn't just a crucial part of our remit, it is a creative opportunity that enhances our programmes... Nina and Ramy both bring with them a wealth of experience and they will be essential in helping us achieve our ambition."

The appointments follow the launch of the channel's 360º Diversity Charter in January, a 30-point plan to improve diversity throughout the organisation.