Published: Tue 17 Aug 21

Soho Theatre announces NBCUniversal International Studios Overheard Podcast Competition Winner


Soho Theatre announces today Ellie Fulcher’s The Ballad of a Virgin Who Can’t Drive as the winner of its OVERHEARD Podcast Competition in partnership with NBCUniversal International Studios and StoryHunter. As the winner, Ellie will receive a cash prize of £2k. StoryHunter will produce the podcast for release in autumn 2021.

This is a love story. Or at least Lia really wants it to be. 24-year-old Lia, wants to lose her virginity before the end of her youth (when her young person railcard expires.)

Ellie Fulcher is a writer and facilitator from South East London. She is currently the participation associate at The Royal Court Theatre where she works with a range of writers to support their development.  The Ballad of a Virgin who can’t drive is Ellie’s podcast debut.

In 2019, NBCUniversal International Studios and Soho Theatre formed a partnership to nurture and develop emerging theatre talent and develop scripted projects for the international TV market.

When the pandemic forced the theatre industry to close its doors, NBCUniversal International Studios built on its partnership with Soho Theatre extending further support for playwrights to continue developing their craft and create new content – not just for theatre and TV, but for audio too.

Leveraging its existing partnership with short form video and audio content company, StoryHunter, the studio developed a new initiative with Soho Theatre entitled OVERHEARD.  Open exclusively to the theatre’s Writers’ Lab Alumni 2019/20 only, the podcast competition saw entrants tasked with developing an idea for a fictional podcast, with a view to produce and release a pilot this autumn.

From the entrants, a selection of finalists were chosen to attend a free workshop on ‘How to Write for a Podcast’ in April, where they gained invaluable access to creative talent from across the studio and StoryHunter to develop their writing skills for audio, learn about best practice and the production process for fictional podcasts, and ultimately prepare a pilot script to pitch. The shortlisted scripts from Zain Dada, Liz Daramola, Naomi Denny, Ellie Fulcher and Sid Sagar included a love story, a political thriller, an inspiring football story, an exploration of online persona, and a sci-fi mystery.

The judging panel of key creatives included Soho Theatre’s Creative Director David Luff, Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab Alumna and Playwright Ava Wong Davies, NBCUniversal International Studios’ Director of Development, Scripted Programming Christopher Kam, and Scripted Development Co-ordinator Anastasia Kullmann, StoryHunter Founder/Managing Director Kirsty Hunter and Overheard Workshop Facilitator and Writer Vivienne Franzmann.

OVERHEARD Podcast Competition Shortlist

Flora, Fauna and Trauma by Liz Daramola
During an interview promoting her new book, a popular social media influencer has an existential breakdown on live radio when asked ‘why you?’. A troll-led interrogation of her ‘perfect’ online persona uncovers the dark, traumatic past she’s worked hard to leave behind.

Liz Daramola is a writer and producer from London. She wrote her debut play Bonhomie as part of Soho Theatre’s Writers Lab, which was shortlisted for the Tony Craze Award in 2020. For screen, she has been commissioned for Famalam (BBC Studios), PJ Masks (Frogbox/Disney Jr.) and is currently developing original TV projects.
As a producer, she won a Stage One Producer bursary in 2018 to develop new work and has most recently worked at Young Vic Theatre and Barbican Centre.
Liz is a 2020 alumna of Edinburgh TV Festival’s The Network and in 2021 was awarded an MGCfutures bursary to support a new role as Literary Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

Positive Discrimination by Sid Sagar
Zahra is an ambitious intern at the Civil Service, determined to forge a career in policy-making. But her priorities quickly shift when she accidentally hears a private recording between a prominent government minister and his aide. The content is shocking, hinting at the prospect of dark and potentially inhumane migrant relocations. Meanwhile, Zahra helplessly watches on as her beloved grandmother, Pia, a child of Partition, begins to lose her memory. Zahra finds an ally in Kofi, an investigative journalist, and soon they uncover a web of corruption that leads to Downing Street. But as power, history and technology collide, Zahra finds herself in increasingly deep water. How far should we go to expose the truth? And what happens when good intentions threaten to have devastating consequences?

Sid Sagar a London-based actor and writer. He grew up abroad and has lived in England since the age of eight. He read History at the University of Bristol and trained with the National Youth Theatre, Identity School of Acting and Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab. As an actor, recent credits include Trying for Apple TV+, Disney’s Cruella and The Invisible Hand at Kiln Theatre. As a playwright, his first full length play, Dark Faces in the Night, was shortlisted for the Finborough Theatre’s ETPEP Award and was one of the winners of Rose Theatre Kingston’s inaugural New Writing Festival. He is currently an Associate Writer at Middle Child and will be part of the London Library Emerging Writers Programme for 2021-22. As a screenwriter, he’s currently developing a co-written sitcom with Slam Films and his first short film, Baked Beans, will be produced by BFI NETWORK later this year. 

The Waters of Lethe by Naomi Denny
A woman wakes in a war zone, with no memory of the last fifteen years. As she wanders the ruined streets, a man begs her for his children back. Another runs from her. Others reach for weapons. She is saved by an elite squadron – one of many under her command, she learns. She begins to find clues – notes in her handwriting, a phone containing only one contact, keys to a derelict flat she never lived in. Her only confidant is an AI, Raz, but she finds that she’s even taken steps to hide things from their conversations too. Her last memory is with her best friend, Simone, on her 21st birthday, and now she must start a desperate race against the clock to find Simone before her memory resets again. As time goes on, it becomes clear to her that she is the architect of this new world, the woman holding all the cards – so why does she feel like she’s playing someone else’s game?

Naomi Denny trained at Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company and was awarded the Stage Scholarship 2017. Towards the end of her training she wrote her first play Essentially Black, a piece about mixed race identity in elite universities, which was chosen to be part of Fourth Monkey’s Experimental Fringe season 2018. This was then adapted in to a full length piece and performed to a sold out audience as a part of Pleasance Theatre LABS programme 2020, and will next be playing at Camden Fringe 2021. Her second play, All The Happy Things was shortlisted for Soho Theatre’s Tony Craze Award 2020 after being written as a part of Soho Theatre Writers Lab 2020. Naomi has also written for Rikki Beadle-Blair’s latest anthologies, Lit and Fierce, which are due for release in 2021.  

Zidane of the Ends by Zain Dada
“Everyone and their nan wants to be a baller, what makes you think you’re gonna make it bruv?”
They used to compare 19-year-old Aadam El Djezairi to Zizou on the concrete pitches of Cally Road, now he’s just another academy drop out let go by a premier league club.
His former mentor, Malikah gets a placement as the assistant coach for non-league outfit, South Quay FC and convinces Aadam to trial for the club under the watchful eye of their no-nonsense head coach Connor.  Will this cold, wet day in South East London prove to be the ultimate litmus test for Aadam?  If he shines, the scouts could come calling again.  One last chance to escape the ends.  One last chance to ‘make it’ and ease the pressure on the family.  One last chance to prove everyone wrong.  

Zain Dada is a writer, cultural producer, and researcher.  He is the co-founder of Khidr Collective Zine – a zine platforming the work of British Muslims. In 2020, Zain co-founded Khidr Comix Lab – a space for Black, Brown and Muslim storytellers to innovate, experiment and create within the comix medium. Zain’s directing credits include 2019 Outspoken Prize winning short visual poem, The Moon is a Meme, and 2020 Outspoken Prize-nominated animation short, Otherstani. Zain is a Winston Churchill Fellow after publishing his research on The Future of Community Arts.  His first theatre commission, Emily (Glitched) in Paris was for the Royal Court Theatre’s Living Newspaper series.  Zain is currently part of BBC London Voices – BBC’s development group for new and emerging writers based in London.