SISTER and South of the River Pictures today announce that Chris Nelson (she/her/ they/ them) has won SCREENSHOT 2023. Alex Forsyth (he/him) and Daisy Doris May (she/they) were confirmed as runners up, and three further finalists (Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller (he/ him) Laith Elzubaidi (he/ him) and Katie Payne(she/her)) will receive bursaries to help develop their next live performance. Screenshot was designed to celebrate the British live comedy scene and find the next generation of comedy writer-performers for TV.
Produced by Clare Fitzgerald for SOTR and SISTER, in partnership with Heads of Development Lina Stroud (SOTR) and Kasheina Vencatasawmy (SISTER) and their development teams, the scheme provides opportunities for emerging comedy writer-performers to showcase their work with the potential to develop their original idea from stage to screen.
Olivia Colman, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Rosie Jones, and Munya Chawawa along with Ed Sinclair (South of the River), Joint Creative Director of Scripted Naomi de Pear (SISTER) and Producer, Holly Pullinger (This is Going to Hurt) led the judging panel at a closed-door showcase held at The Royal Court Theatre on Sunday 11th June.
Nelson, whose alter ego Sue Gives a F**k, grew out of the London club and ball scenes, took to the stage as professional escort and dominatrix Chrissie to perform Transgressions; a whip-smart, disarmingly grounded confessional comedy about cross dressing, sex work and knowing when a dick is just a dick with Olivia Colman saying “Chris’s unique talent is finding gentleness and humanity in every aspect of her comedy, and making the specific supremely accessible – hilarious, expectation-defying and utterly joyous!”
Nelson will be brought onto the SISTER/ SOTR development slates and commissioned to write a pilot episode of Transgressions, with runners up Forsyth and May, both receiving treatment commissions for an original idea.
On Chris Nelson - the judges said “Chris Nelson’s creation is like nothing we have seen on our screens. She has that rare story-telling ability – one that surprises and thrills but excludes no-one. And she is hilarious!”
On Alex Forsyth whose tragicomic piece ‘Louise, I Took Your Cat’ navigates the world of ‘incels’ the judges said “Alex is a brilliant performer. To evoke genuine tension and laughter whilst shining an empathetic light on such a challenging aspect of our culture is truly astounding.”
On Daisy Doris May whose mockumentary follows her comic creation Steve ‘Lock Up Ur Daughters’ Porters, the judges said, “Daisy comes at a familiar subject from a hilarious, exhilarating and highly empathetic fresh angle, and in doing so has created what could become a truly great new comic character”.
Winner Chris Nelson says “ Without giving too much away, I don’t know how many production companies would have the balls for my project so I’m extraordinarily grateful to Sister and SOTR for taking a chance on this cross-dressing dominatrix. It often feels like you need an agent to get work and work to get an agent so the way this competition creates a route into the industry feels really special. That said, no one in my office seems to understand that Olivia Colman gave me a trophy and that it isn't appropriate to treat me like an administrator when actually, I am Beyonce.”
Building on the success of SCREENSHOT 2021, which saw Bahraini/ British writer Jenna Al- Ansari scoop the top prize, South of the River and SISTER announced the return of the competition in March 2023. Al-Ansari is now in active development on multiple projects, as are runners-up Dawn Sievewright & Brennan Reece.
The scheme received an extraordinary response with hundreds of entrants. These were whittled down to the 11 finalists who performed at the live showcase.
The judging panel was comprised of acclaimed writer-performers Sanjeev Bhaskar (Unforgotten, The Kumars at No 42), Rosie Jones (Live at the Apollo and Sex Education S2), Munya Chawawa (content creator, satirist, and producer) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite, Peep Show). They lined-up alongside inspirational industry experts including comedy dignitaries), including BBC Head of Comedy Tanya Qureshi (I May Destroy You, Am I Being Unreasonable?, Cunk on Earth), Commissioning Editor, Sky Studios Tilusha Ghelani (Bloods, Funny Woman, Breeders) , Head of Comedy at Channel 4 Charlie Perkins (Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, The Change and Everyone Else Burn) Head of Comedy, Executive Vice President at HBO & Max Comedy Programming Amy Gravitt (Barry, Veep, The Rehearsal) and Tom Lyons Scripted Originals at Netflix.
SOTR and SISTER say “We were simply astounded by the talent on display this year. These are writers and performers whose humour, sensitivity and sheer story-telling chops deserve the widest audience. It was a privilege to give them this platform - and to do so at The Royal Court, the Writers’ Theatre, feels incredibly apt. This was a reminder of what we in television owe the theatrical arts in the UK, and of the need to support them in every way we can”
Performer Judges QUOTE – Olivia Colman, Sanjeev Baskhar, Munya Chawawa and Rosie Jones say: Performer Judges QUOTE – Olivia Colman, Sanjeev Baskhar, Munya Chawawa and Rosie Jones say: " It is a rare joy to be able to support emerging talent, and the quality of writing and performance was incredibly high across the board. It was a genuine challenge settling on the winner, and we’ll be following all finalists’ progress keenly!
Commissioner judges QUOTE - “Spending the day watching such a talented group of writer-performers was an enormous privilege. The standard was unbelievably high and served as a vital reminder to nurture emerging voices. Congratulations to these future stars of stage and screen!”