Pearson Playwrights' Scheme

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Pearson Playwrights' Scheme (formerly Thames Television Theatre Writers Scheme) is a British organisation established in 1973 to support theatre writing. It runs the Pearson Award for Best New Play.


In 1973, Howard Thomas, then managing director of Thames Television, launched the Thames Television Theatre Writers Scheme to support and celebrate new writing in the theatre. He believed that television owed much to the theatre for its supply of creative talent. In 1993 Pearson PLC took over the sponsorship of the scheme and it became the Pearson Playwrights' Scheme.[1][2] Over the past 30 years,[when?] the scheme has helped launch some of the finest British play-writing talent. Each year, bursaries are awarded to new writers and an additional award is offered to the writer of the best play. These are selected by the scheme's panel, chaired by Sir John Mortimer CBE QC.[3] The awards are called the Pearson Award for Best New Play.

Since 2014 the scheme has been sponsored by Channel Four.[4]

Panel and patrons[edit]

The panel has included Michael Billington, Thelma Holt CBE, Sue Summers, Catherine Johnson, Beryl Bainbridge DBE and John Tydeman.

Patrons include Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE, Alan Bleasdale, Stephen Daldry, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Richard Eyre, Sir Peter Hall CBE, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Joan Plowright CBE, Sir Tom Stoppard and Sue Townsend.

The scheme is administrated by Jack Andrews MBE, and is supported by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation and The Olivier Foundation.

Pearson Award for Best New Play[edit]

Winners of the Pearson Award for Best New Play, awarded annually since 1982.

Scheme taken over from Thames by Pearson.