Published on: 14 December 2016 in Training

Directors UK announces new extended High End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme

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Directors UK and Creative Skillset’s High End TV Council are delighted to announce the launch of the High End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme - an expanded career development initiative to help progress and diversify the directing talent in high end TV drama.

Directors UK will create six extended 12-week paid placements with various production companies and broadcasters across the UK, including BBC One’s Silent Witness and a future project from Kudos.

This new programme follows on from our 2015 pilot scheme, during which five placements were offered to directors on high end TV dramas Dickensian, Mr Selfridge, Undercover, The Tunnel and Humans. This time, six directors will be placed on a production and work alongside the lead director for the entire duration of the shoot - including pre and post-production. There is also a commitment to give the placement director the opportunity to direct 2nd unit where appropriate, and therefore gain an on-screen credit to showcase their experience and help advance their careers within high end TV drama.

Richard Stokes, Executive Producer of Silent Witness, said: “Silent Witness has a long, successful tradition of working with and encouraging new directors. Over the last two decades the show’s alumni include those who have gone on to extraordinary careers, achieving popular and critical success in television and film on both sides of the Atlantic. The new directors’ scheme in collaboration with Creative Skillset and Directors UK is a terrific initiative which will provide the foundation for finding the next generation of talented visionaries not just for Silent Witness, but for the whole industry”.

Andrew Chowns, CEO of Directors UK, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Creative Skillset again for the High End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme. Directors UK have been working and campaigning tirelessly to improve access to directing opportunities, working closely with a range of organisations, broadcasters and commissioners to help improve fairer employment and career progression for under-represented groups in UK television. This is a unique programme that offers directors the opportunity to not only learn and develop skills in a new and popular genre but also to gain a directing credit to add to their portfolio and improve their career prospects, a key feature needed for the industry to improve its current landscape and encourage new directors”.

The scheme

The Directors UK High End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme aims to give directors a broader understanding of how shows within the genre are made, and how they differ from lower budget and continuing drama productions. Directors will gain an insight into all areas of high end TV drama - including pre-production, shooting and post-production - ultimately giving them the skill set needed to be able to direct an episode in the future. As part of the career development programme directors will also have access to post-placement support from Directors UK, as well as networking and advice from the production company and lead director.

It is anticipated that the placements will take place in various locations across the UK and Directors UK will provide accommodation and travel costs to the successful directors where required. We are also committed to assisting with access costs, for example childcare, on a case-by-case basis.

During the 12-week placement, directors will be required to attend and participate in as much of the following as possible:

  • pre-production and planning meetings
  • regular meetings with the lead director to discuss the planning on production requirements and strategies
  • be on set from the outset right through to wrap
  • post-production edits
  • career development/advice session with the lead director
  • provide evaluation and participate in any press and/or communication briefings on behalf of Directors UK

Application Process

Directors UK is working closely with Creative Skillset’s High End TV Council to identify the productions that will work on this scheme in partnership with Directors UK. Once the final productions have been confirmed, shortlisted directors will be matched with their production. If necessary candidates will also be interviewed by a panel drawn from Directors UK and the relevant production companies, together with the lead director.

This career development programme is intended for directors making a step up into high end TV drama, who have evidence of the skills required but don’t yet have experience. The programme will offer a supported and safe environment within which to gain the necessary confidence to direct at this level.

To apply please send the following to training@directors.uk.com:

  • completed application form (Word, PDF)
  • recent CV
  • link to your showreel

The initial deadline is Monday 16 January 2017, however Directors UK will begin reviewing applications as soon as they are received in order to start the shortlisting process. We anticipate that an additional call for applications will take place later in 2017 to match any new commissions from our partners. This later deadline will be advertised on our website.

The scheme is open to all qualifying directors. In light of our ongoing campaigns, we are particularly encouraging applications from BAME and women directors, as the industry recognises that both are currently under-represented within film and TV directing generally. Only 2.42% of TV drama is currently directed by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) directors (Adjusting the Colour Balance) and only 14% of TV drama is directed by women (Who’s Calling the Shots?).

Read all about last year’s pilot scheme and hear what the participating directors had to say about their experience.


Creative Skillset works with the UK’s screen-based creative media industries to develop skills and talent from classroom to boardroom. They support high quality professional development across TV, film and related sectors – identifying skills needs, targeting skills investment, developing key skills and growing diverse talent networks. Through their industry partnerships Creative Skillset helps to improve productivity, creativity and employability across the UK’s screen-based creative media industries.

Photo courtesy of BBC/Gary Moyes

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