The Alfred Bradley Bursary Award was established in 1992. It is a biennial award in commemoration of the life and work of the radio producer Alfred Bradley. It aims to encourage and develop new radio writing talent in the BBC North region. There is a change of focus for each award; previous years have targeted comedy drama, verse drama, etc. Entrants must live or work in the North region. The aim of the award is to help writers pursue a career in writing for radio. This page, if you scroll down, gives the winners since 1994.

    Note from ND....I am slightly puzzled ....for a long time I was unable to trace any details after 2008 ... so I assumed that this award was no longer given. Then I found a BBC reference to the "Bradley Award 2011" to Cat Jones, which is slightly confusing - since the prize is biennial and only awarded in 'even' years. Nevertheless the BBC's (probably inaccurate) mention is shown below for that date ............

      Further update, Feb 2015 .... some more BBC pages about this award have appeared online recently..... I am told by a person at the BBC that the award is continuing, and that the next one will be in September 2015. The link is presently at http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/successes/alfred-bradley-award

        Update 2021 - apparently there was an Alfred Bradley Award in 2020; 'to be announced in September' according to the BBC website. I'm listing the shortlisted plays below. Perhaps deciding the winner has been delayed because of Covid. The award has now been upgraded; the blurb says "The selected winner will be announced in September and awarded a £5,000 cash bursary in addition to receiving a 12 month development mentorship with a Radio Drama Producer where they’ll continue to develop their drama script for a chance to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4". If anyone knows, it would save me a job if you could put me in the picture.... thanks.


Driving Lessons by Juliana Sumsion (Lancaster)
Kelly Ann is twenty-one and wants driving lessons, but she has Downs Syndrome. Everyone including her own family doubts her ability to learn. Can she prove them all wrong?

Pica by Emilie Robson (Newcastle)
There's something about Kae; something earthy, creepy even; as if she's done a few laps of this world already. And if folk weren't talking about her before, they are now she's vanished.

Mabel by Houmi Miura (Manchester)
Awaiting the outcome of a school investigation, teacher Suzi, is trying to stay vegan and not having a nervous breakdown, until she finds an unlikely saviour in a brutally honest talking houseplant.

Patterdale by Paul Jones (Liverpool)
A young boy in foster care runs away to his nan's house. As he runs, his story unfolds.
...UPDATE - Paul won the Bradley Award for 2020-21

Dagger Lane by Duncan MacInnes (Hull)
A retired DCI George Young enlists his carer, Simone to help unearth past evidence exonerating his dead West Indian best friend from 1956 before George's Alzheimers erases any possibility of justice.

By Alex Clarke.At the time of writing I can't locate any production details or broadcast date, but it is described on the BBC website as a magical realist drama. Alex was assisted by Jessica Dromgoole.

Shortlisted, from 279 entries: Jill O'Halloran (runner-up) - Monique and Me R4 28 Nov 19, Stephen Collins, Geraldine Lang, Mandip Dhesi.

By Piers Black-Hawkins. 17 Jul: Human Resources: a salesman receives a call from a girl calling for help. Dylan: Matthew Baynton, Gina: Katie West, with Ceallach Spellman, Krissi Bohn, Graeme Hawley, Russell Dixon, Ashley Margolis. Produced by Nadia Molinari. (Interesting play - ND)

Shortlisted, from 232 entries: Piers Black-Hawkins - Hand To Mouth; Andrew Crowther - The Wakefield Courier, Phil Davies - Girl X, Karen Featherstone - The End of Sleep, Mike Heath - The Big Things.

By Furquan Akhtar, produced by Gary Brown. Runner up was Alan Mockler, with his play 'Erosion'. There are BBC pages about both of these plays online, associated with the 'writer's room'.

2011 (sic)
By Cat Jones. More information about the writer and the play (a drama set in a prison):
(....information located by AW; thanks Alistair.)

Chris Wilson is the winner of the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award with his play PLAYING THE GAME. The judges - Jeremy Howe (Commissioning Editor, Radio 4), Kate Rowland (Creative Director, BBC Writersroom), Susan Roberts (Executive Producer, Radio Drama North), writer David Nobbs, poet and playwright Amanda Dalton and actor Shobna Gulati - selected "Playing The Game" from about 400 entries. Chris Wilson said: "The award is a huge honour... I would have never normally thought about writing for radio drama, but the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award gave me the incentive to send in my play and see what happened." (31 Jul 09)

Mark Shand is the winner of the 2006 Alfred Bradley Award, for his play ABIGAIL ADAMS.

Jeremy Howe, judge and Commissioning Editor, said: "Drama on Radio 4 has launched the careers of hundreds of writers - it is a part of what we do and we are very proud of our track record: in the last year we have commissioned over 20 first time writers for the Afternoon Play alone.  

"We are delighted to be premiering Mark Shand's delightful, witty, life affirming play Abigail Adams on the network. He is a writer to watch, I'm sure the kind of writer Alfred Bradley himself would have championed."  

Mark’s play tells the tale of Abigail Adams, a misfit teenager who, as she falls from the top of her apartment block, contemplates why she’s turned out how she has – from her beloved linen suit and red trainers to her penchant for strong tea.  

But with parents like hers, paranoid she will turn out like them, there’s no wonder she’s turned out "special".  

In addition to the bursary of £1,000 and his play being broadcast on national radio, Mark, 33, will also be given the opportunity to develop further ideas into future commissions.  

Mark said: "It was pretty amazing, I’d just given up full time work to concentrate on writing and this was the first full length play I’d done."  

The award, established to commemorate the life and work of BBC radio producer Alfred Bradley, is unique in its dedication to encouraging writing for radio drama.  

Mark Shand is originally from Rochdale and recently completed a diploma in Writing for Performance from the University of Bristol.  

The runners-up of this year’s award are The Votes Are In by Andrew Turner, Cobwebs by David Hodgson and James And Jack by Mark Griffiths.  

All three are awarded a £1,000 bursary.  

In addition, Oh Bondage, Up Yours by Boff Whalley and Fifteen by Deborah Wain are both awarded £500.  

For the first year all of these writers will be mentored in the Radio Drama Department.  

Justine Potter, Development Producer, says: "The Alfred Bradley Bursary Award has been a real success this year. We promised the judges a shortlist of five plays, but we just couldn't narrow it down and so they received the top 13.  

"The judges agreed that all 13 writers should be considered for future Radio Drama commissions and they are now all busily pitching.  

"Radio 4 has launched the careers of so many, many writers we recognise as national treasures today - what a fitting tribute to Alfred Bradley that new talent continues to thrive in his name as across the BBC."

The judges were:
Sally Wainwright, writer
Julie Hesmondhalgh, actress
Jeremy Howe, commissioning editor, radio 4
Kate Rowland, Creative Director, new writing Sue Roberts, BBC Executive producer, BBC North.

Anthony Cropper is the winner of the seventh Alfred Bradley Bursary Award with his play Telling Stories. The judges - playwright and novelist Willy Russell; Caroline Raphael (Commissioning Editor at Radio 4); poet and author Jackie Kay; actor Barbara Marten; Petra Bradley (daughter of the late Alfred Bradley); and Melanie Harris (project director, Northern Exposure) - selected Telling Stories from over 280 entries.

Anthony's play focuses on four people who seem set on destroying each other. They meet for a meal. They bicker and fight, they flirt and tell stories. They chip away at each other, pouncing on weaknesses.

Their varying interpretations of that evening highlight the difficulties of communication. The characters are out to score points and they raise the stakes until one of them breaks.

Willy Russell said: "As soon as I began reading the play, I had that unmistakeable sense of being drawn into an expertly drawn world.

"I liked the script's sense of daring and its ability to present the bleakness of these lives without the play itself ever becoming bleak or nihilistic.

"Although this is a muscular, robust and meaningful drama, the author understands the need to engage and entertain his audience."

2002 (serious drama)
Julia Copus 'Eeenie Meenie Macka Racka' , afternoon play, 4 Sep 03. Ten year old Jess masks the unhappiness of her broken home through a fantasy world of magic and film. But her childish daydreams are punctured when she starts learning the truth about the adults who surround her.

Jess ...... Poppy Rush
Mr Khan ...... Vincent Ebrahim
Alice ...... Rosie Fleeshman
Mum ...... Sian Reeves
Siddeeq ...... Parvez Qadir
Directed in Manchester by Jim Poyser.

Michael Stewart 'Leeches'.
The runners up are Ben Tagoe with 'Keeping It Up With the Joneses' and Katie Douglas with 'The Ballad of Colin and Brian'.

2000 (Comedy drama)
Pam Leeson: There’s Me David Chelsea Charlene Scott and Bianca
Atar Hadari: (title anyone?)Broadcast 13 Aug 01 .

Lee lives in Salford with his mum and five brothers and sisters. Life is very busy for him - looking after the kids, arguing with his girlfriend, and climbing the house roof to escape. Then Jeannie, a girl from across the street, disappears. With Daniel Hanbridge and Jill Halfpenny. Directed by Susan Roberts.

Peter Straughan: When we were Queens - a play about the boy actors in Shakespeare's plays. Broadcast R4, 21 Apr 99.

A group of runaway teenage boys are briefly lifted above their daily hardships when they become Shakespeare's great queens. With Dax O'Callahan and Leyland O'Brien. Director Melanie Harris.

Mandy Precious: Patty & Chips with Scraps; director Kate Rowland. Rpt. 13 Nov 97. RT- Thirty Minute Theatre, 11pm. Lil is newly widowed. Having always been somebody's daughter or somebody's wife, she must now contemplate life alone with Albert's chip van. She befriends Mudassar, a young man who pushes her to emerge from the shadow of Albert, and together they take a cruise - a voyage of discovery. With Rita Tushingham and Ravin J Ganatra. Director Kate Rowland.

There were 3 other winners too.....including -

Ben Thompson: The Millenium Bible
....Ben writes ......I was one of the winners of the Alfred Bradley bursary in 1996. I wrote a verse drama called "The Millennium Bible". Actually is was the first act that won the bursary award, but the other two acts were already written before I went to collect the award. It was in rhyming verse, with, as I noted in the prefaces to the various acts, echoes of Coleridge, Milton, Tank Girl, Mad Magazine and a nod in the direction of Lindsay Kemp's Adam & Eve and the Serpent. I liked it and so did most of the people I showed it to, including several radio producers, the reader at the National (though it was never a possible for stage production), even Ted Hughes read it in the last year of his life and sent me an appreciative postcard.

Lee Hall: Spoonface Steinberg - about an autistic child. A monologue, not a play. Excellent writing.

Ken Cumberlidge adds ... a play so famous, it hardly needs any introduction. I heard its first broadcast by accident. I was cleaning the house at the time, with radio 4 on in the background. As I polished, this young girl's voice - and the terrible, fascinating tale it was telling - kept grabbing my attention. Before long, I was transfixed, duster in hand ... gobsmacked by the sheer brilliance of Lee Hall's writing and Becky Simpson's reading.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity Website

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