British broadcaster ITV and Death in Paradise producer Red Planet Pictures are developing a family drama from newcomer writer Devin Doyle after he won their talent discovery scheme.
Dublin-based writer Doyle won the Red Planet Prize 2018, which is run by Tony Jordan’s production company and the commercial network and will now work with the two firms to develop his project Devoted Wife and Mother. The award is intended to recognize talented writers who can create “fresh, original and inspiring popular drama” projects.
Doyle’s Devoted Wife and Mother script follows a woman as she has her life turned upside down when her debt dealing husband is kidnapped with a £500,000 ransom deadline for 5pm that day. He will work closely with Kate Rowland to develop the project; Rowland has previously worked with writers including Lee Hall (War Horse), Stephen Butchard (The Child in Time) and Sarah Phelps (And Then There Were None).
“I’m excited, delighted and still more than a little shocked to have been named the winner of the Red Planet Prize. I’m deeply grateful to Red Planet Pictures and ITV for the opportunity the competition affords emerging writers. It’s a privilege, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the work,” said Doyle.
Meanwhile, Sharma Walfall came second in the competition and has also secured development funding from Red Planet Pictures. Her original pitch The Front Room is set in 1960’s Manchester. “Being a runner up in such an incredible competition filled with such talented writers, and being able to work with Red Planet Pictures, is mind-blowing and exciting. This means the world to me as the story that I want to tell is very close to my heart. Thank you to Red Planet Pictures and ITV for picking me. I’m really looking forward to the future of this project,” she said.
The pair beat ten other shortlisted writers, who were invited to a pitching master-class with Red Planet Pictures CEO Tony Jordan, Victoria Fea, ITV’s departing Senior Drama Commissioner, actor, director and writer Adrian Lester and Rowland.
Jordan said, “We know this industry can be hard to break into, which is why we believe so fervently in giving opportunities like the Red Planet Prize to brilliant and talented writers. All 1,300 entries this year showed great promise, but Devin’s assured and great visual style makes him a real talent for the future, and I believe that Devoted Wife and Mother will make an incredible piece of drama for viewers to get their teeth stuck into.”
Fea added, “We were excited by the range and diversity of storytelling on offer this year and had a difficult job in creating a shortlist – a situation which reflects the dynamism and creativity in the TV Drama industry. However, both Devin and Sharma submitted pitches which had great potential for development; showing a great deal of thought about how their idea would stand out in a competitive marketplace.”
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