Screen/Play Award – Meet the Finalists 14/01/2021

Over the last few months, we've read hundreds of submissions for our Screen/Play Award in partnership with Sky Studios. At every stage, we've been struck not only by the wealth of talent here in the North but by the urgent need for a plurality of voices to be heard and diverse stories to be told. Representation matters.

It's time to meet our six finalists. Each of these writers has an electrifying story to tell and we can't wait to see what happens next. Read all about them - in their own words - as they prepare to pitch their ideas to our Panel at the end of the month...

Shazia Ashraf

As a community I do not want us to be nonexistent in the arts like our mothers were, I want our stories told and celebrated as part of British heritage


I'm a Wakefield based writer and director who enjoys exploring and experimenting visually with my work, often concentrating on the younger generation of British Asians in contemporary Britain. My recent work includes 99% Halal (Kala Sangam) and Sweets & Chocolates (Kali & RADA).

Rosie MacPherson

"It took me years to see myself as a writer. Although I have loved writing my entire life, it was a job, in my mind, that was meant for other people. My work is always inspired by that feeling."


I'm a writer and the Artistic Director of Stand & Be Counted, the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary. My previous theatre work includes Where We Began (National tour 2018) ‘Tanja’ (National tours 2016 &17) and Inside (Edinburgh Fringe & National tour 2015).

Conway McDermott

"All you can hope for as a writer is to connect to others through your ideas, and to find a common truth in stories. It's a great feeling to know that my pitch resonated."


Non-binary writer from Liverpool, here. I love the versatility of genre fiction, and I use fantasy, history, sci-fi and mysticism to create a fuller landscape of worlds and stories for weird working class queers to inhabit, and to speak truthfully about who we are. Sure I'm traumatized, but I'm also lots of fun.

Lauren-Nicole Mayes

"With a notebook or ten of characters, people I know and love, stories from Blackpool town, stories of women and at the forefront the women we don’t make space to see, I soon found my voice. I believe now that it's my duty to share all of the above because these people exist. They are a little more salty than the average Joe but they need to be heard."

Since an early age, I have performed to anyone who would listen or stand long enough to watch a tap dance. Maybe that's what being Blackpool born and bred does to you. Recently I have delved into the world of writing, slowly realising that we aspire to be what we see/hear and when we can’t find examples of that we start to believe our creativity is a luxury and that we should just be grateful.

Sarah Tarbit

"Being a finalist means validation – not just for me as a writer, but for working-class stories and stories from underrepresented groups as a whole."

I'm a writer from Ashington, Northumberland. Once the largest coal-mining village in the world, Ashington is now one of the most deprived areas in the country. My work documents life in the region and often calls for social and political change.  In 2020, I was Highly Commended for the Sid Chaplin Award (part of the Northern Writers’ Awards), and had two short plays produced by Live Theatre.

Christopher York

“I'm so chuffed to be one of the finalists. To be mentioned in the same breath as some of the North's most exciting writing talent is properly humbling."


My 2018 debut play, Build A Rocket, was Richard Jordan’s pick as ‘the best new British play of the year' in The Stage. It ran at Stephen Joseph Theatre and toured the UK in 2019. The Stephen Joseph Theatre also commissioned my play All Delighted People which celebrated forty years of youth theatre in Scarborough.