UK production maven to mentor Aussie writers

04 August, 2015 by Don Groves

UK drama executive John Yorke, former exec producer of Wolf Hall, will serve as the international script mentor for FremantleMedia Australia’s Blue Sky drama initiative.

A former head of Channel Four Drama and controller of BBC Drama Production, Yorke will lead two writers through a 5-day development workshop in Sydney starting on August 17.


FMA is yet to name the two writers, whose projects will be developed to a bible and then first draft script stage, ready for commissioning, assisted by director of drama Jo Porter and head of scripted content Anthony Ellis.

They will be further rewarded with financial and creative participation in any successful project.

Jointly funded by Screen Australia’s new enterprise industry program and FMA, the scheme aims to create four high-end drama concepts for international broadcasters and VOD platforms.

Porter said, “Having someone of the calibre of John Yorke guiding these unique projects is going to be a fantastic experience for all involved. John’s pivotal role in realising from the ground up a diverse and successful range of iconic television projects is second to none.

"The diversity, excellence and volume of projects that were submitted for the Blue Sky drama initiative has been overwhelming. We cannot wait to share the two successful projects but we want our potential broadcast partners to have the first chance to see them post the development process with FMA and John Yorke.”

The managing director of Angel Station and a freelance drama consultant, Yorke said, “Mentoring writers is one of the most important things an industry can do and it’s brilliant to be involved in a project that so clearly understands that.”

Yorke and Porter will take part in a Blue Sky presentation/Q&A for the screen industry in Sydney on August 18, hosted by Screen Australia and FMA. Seats are limited so for those who can't attend the event will be streamed live via webinar.

He is a former MD of Company Pictures where he exec produced Wolf Hall. At the BBC and Channel Four he was involved in a raft of shows including Hustle, Spooks, Casualty and Holby City.

As a commissioning editor/executive producer, he championed Life on Mars, The Street, Shameless and Waterloo Road.

In 2005 he created the BBC Writers Academy, a year-long in-depth training scheme. He is a visiting professor of English language and literature at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.