Russell Gascoigne is an experienced television scriptwriter whose credits include the top-rating A Touch Of Frost. He has written for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C and had a number of feature films in development. He has also written for both stage and radio.
Russell teaches scriptwriting to both new and more experienced writers (details here) and also runs the Scriptwriting Workshop Online, providing 1-2-1 script-editing and script development support for writers working on their own scripts. This is open to writers at all levels of experience across the UK – and beyond (details here).
After leaving university Russell worked as a script-reader/consultant for numerous TV and film companies. These included the Movie Acquisition Corporation, where he reported on major US/UK feature films, and the European Script Fund (pilot organisation of the EU’s MEDIA Programme, the largest feature film development fund in Europe and co-developer of numerous award-winning films). He read for the BBC, LWT, Carlton Television, ITC Entertainment, TVS and Ffilm Cymru before becoming a BBC Drama Script Editor. He has extensive experience in both development and production and generated and commissioned original drama material across BBC channels and for co-production. He was script-editor on the Royal Television Society’s award-winning Selected Exits starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and produced Shot In A Shoebox, a series of short films/animation for BBC2 Wales.
Aside from A Touch Of Frost he has worked on series such as McCallum, Family Affairs and The Bill and been commissioned by BBC Wales, BBC Scotland and BBC Northern Ireland as well as numerous independents. He has also written a Welsh-language drama Rhag Pob Brad, starring Rhys Ifans.
In addition to his work as a scriptwriter, Russell is a Young Adult novelist. His first novel, Rebels, was published by Walker Books and he is currently working on the opening story of a projected series as well as developing a number of new TV drama projects.
A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy for teaching scriptwriting, Russell is External Examiner on the Screenwriting and Production BA at Regent’s University and has also been a guest speaker on a number of other screenwriting and script development courses.
You can follow Russell on Twitter @RussGascoigne1
‘I’m writing this from the Edinburgh International TV Festival after gaining a place on the talent scheme, The Network, for scriptwriting. As well as that, my short film script ‘Leonard’s Neighbours’ is being produced by the BBC this summer after my script was picked by the competition, It’s My Shout. Russ’ course has definitely helped me in both of these.
I applied for Russ’ course, Scripting a Television Drama, as a (very) novice script writer with a background in poetry and prose. But I quickly learnt where I was going wrong and the occasional time I went right. By the end of the ten weeks, I felt much more confident in approaching script writing and how different it is from the writing I am used to.
But that’s not to say that everyone in the class had a background in writing. Some did, but many didn’t. Part of the fun was the real mix of background, age, experience and interests that were present in the group. Everyone had something very different to offer but Russ was able to work with everyone to improve in their own individual way. I didn’t feel any of the homogenised approach that can be so easily present in other creative classes.
It was obvious from the start that Russ really knows his stuff and was able to translate his knowledge into a language that was accessible for everyone, regardless of previous experience. He was also readily available for feedback and was responsive when I had a problem or question.
I would (and already have) recommended Russ’ course for anyone with an interest in improving their script writing, those who just fancy giving it a go, or those, like me, who hope to move into script writing as a career.’
Jodie Ashdown – writer, ‘Leonard’s Neighbours’ TX BBC Wales 2016 (Winner, Best Film It’s My Shout Awards 2016). Edinburgh Television Festival’s The Network delegate 2016.
“I’d been looking for a practical course that could teach me the rules of scriptwriting for some time. I’d heard that when it comes to writing drama, if you can write dialogue, then you can learn the rest. If you can’t, forget it. So when I came across this course, it was ideal – a ten week practical guide to scriptwriting and the industry. Russ is a very engaging and committed lecturer, who genuinely wants people to both learn and enjoy themselves. I learnt about the key elements and subtleties of writing a script, as well as the wide variety of drama you can write and how each one is different. In a relaxed and supportive environment, I got to experiment and play with my own work on this interactive course. From his own professional experience, Russ was also able to give us fascinating insights into the industry and how it operates, as well as practical examples of how scripts work and how they don’t. Tips on how to get meetings with commissioners and what to do when you got there, as well as getting an agent, were invaluable. I can’t recommend this course highly enough. It was fun, informative and packed full of everything you’d want to know about scriptwriting.”
Ailsa Jenkins – TV Producer
“The most valuable aspect of Russ’s course is Russ himself. Writing is an isolated profession and it’s very easy to stray off your intended path and find yourself lost. The (Scripting a TV Drama) course allowed me access to Russ and being able to engage with him over a period of time, benefiting from his excellent experience and insight, helped to keep me on the right path. There’s no substitute for the knowledge and experience you receive from the many, many hours of writing you do yourself, but if you have someone like Russ, you’re helping yourself even more.”
Richard Starkey – writer/director award-winning ‘Marks Gets Coffee’ vimeo.com/148215117
“Watching clips from TV and film drama with Russ’s discussion of what’s working and what’s not and why is a revelation, and delivers something no amount of reading how-to books can. The course also gives valuable help on developing and pitching an idea, structuring a story, building character and writing dialogue, combined with advice on the realities of how to break in to the profession and what’s involved in making a living from writing for TV. Inspiring stuff. I learned loads.”
Peter Higgins – Novelist www.wolfhoundcentury.com/
“Scripting a TV Drama was a great insight into the world of scriptwriting, introducing the craft as well as the skills needed to carve out success in the industry. It was practical and engaging while keeping in touch with the realities of the trade. Russ was always supportive and encouraging, going above and beyond to encourage students to achieve.
At the end of the course I decided to try writing a full length script and enrolled on the Scriptwriting Workshop Online. It was great value, with Russ providing extensive, truthful and detailed feedback motivated only by the desire to make the script the best it could be. With a completed and polished script, I entered the BBC Writersroom and was delighted when my script made it to the last 5 per cent of more than 2,000 submissions, receiving full feedback from their readers.”
Sally Hales – Sub-editor
“Having just completed the Scriptwriting Workshop Online I can honestly say I found the whole 10 weeks extremely rewarding. It was challenging at times. Having to explore different approaches and sometimes change direction completely wasn’t always easy but I trusted Russ’s experience and judgement and went with it. The end result was a definite improvement to both my writing and my script.
I would recommend the workshop to any writer who wants to progress in the real world of screenwriting. If you’re looking to be constantly stroked and praised then look elsewhere however if what you’re seeking is an honest appraisal of your work and a clear path to improving it then this is absolutely the course for you.”
Additional testimonial from Andrew after reaching the semi-final stage of another scriptwriting competiton: “This is pretty simple really. If you are serious about wanting to write a screenplay then just sign up for the Scriptwriting Workshop Online. I did exactly that, completed the course and came out the other side with a handful of drafts, a ton of experience and a vastly improved script. But hey don’t just take my word for it, the finished script is presently in the long list for C4 Coming-Up, BBC Writersroom and was also a semi finalist for Screenwriting Goldmine. Working with Russ has got me to the table, literally, as I had to interview and pitch for C4. So don’t delay just sign up now, send off your script and then get ready to work.”
Andrew Crook – Shortlisted, Bluecat Screenplay Competition & Screenwriting Goldmine Awards/Longlisted, Channel 4 Coming Up scriptwriting competition
“I participated in Russ Gascoigne’s Scriptwriting Workshop Online and I’d love to recommend it. Students and writers my not be aware of the huge benefit of having a one to one tutor who encourages, criticises and guides. It allows one freedom to write at one’s own pace while having the motivation of a mentor. I recently entered the Euroscript Screen Story Competition and was short listed. I am delighted and would like to stress the advantage of having the help of a professional writer in creating the script. The feedback from the competition echoed what Russ had said about the script. Russ helped well above the course requirement and would be an immense help to any writer.”
Fiona Black – Producer/Production Manager, television drama (Casualty, The Bill, Holby City) – www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/2012/09/students-scriptwriting-success/
“The Scripting a TV Drama course covers a lot of ground in a really interesting and accessible way, and I found it a fantastic introduction to begin looking beyond seeing television drama as just entertainment, but rather as a craft in itself.
History, formatting, structure, practical criticism and scene analysis are included, so a lot of ground is covered and Russell is a dynamic and very knowledgeable guide who clearly loves his subject. This enthusiasm really animates the sessions and I really liked the fact that everyone was able to contribute as much or as little as they wanted – I think we all felt really comfortable.
His experience of working in the television industry – and willingness to share that experience with the class in such an open way – is great. Russell also provides individual information and guidance where he feels necessary and that is brilliant.
I think ultimately, as with anything, what you get out of it depends on what you put in and how seriously you take it but I’ve definitely gained confidence in my writing ability from being on the course and I also really enjoyed myself!”
Angharad Elwyn Jones
“Over the years, I’d started and abandoned a large number of screenplays. Russ really helped me see a script through from beginning to end without giving up through frustration or lack of confidence. He provided an invaluable ‘insider’s view’ from within the industry – the tricks of the trade that help accomplished screenwriters ensure their work has pace, momentum and conflict in every scene. His scriptwriting course is also great for helping to develop pitching skills and providing industry knowledge to take writers beyond the writing stage to actually getting a screenplay out there. The helpful guidance provided during the ten weeks, especially around the structure of a screenplay, the composition of scenes and writing better action, has been invaluable in helping me produce the first screenplay I’d be proud to share with others.”
Dan Owens – NHS Comms Officer
“I would highly recommend Scripting a TV Drama with Russell Gascoigne. This course was my first introduction to the world of scriptwriting and not only did it surpass my expectations but it has inspired me to continue to write and pursue a career in writing for television myself. The course was very practical and there were regular opportunities in class to watch drama and discover which techniques and tools the writer had used. The course also covered the practicalities and realities of working in the industry. Russ is an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic tutor and through his feedback and encouragement my writing has already improved considerably”.
Anona Thomas – TV Researcher
“Scripting a TV Drama‘ is a fantastic, practical course offering invaluable insight into the world of writing for the small screen. Russ’ experience and well applied guidance offers even the most apprehensive student the ability to develop an effective TV pitch, under-take extensive script development with thorough discussion of plot, setting and character and to then produce a correctly formatted, well structured TV script they can be proud of.
The critical skills that Russ imparts allows TV drama to be viewed with an astute, critical eye whilst discovering the techniques and mechanics of a successful drama. Taught in a fun, informal environment students are constantly encouraged to share their ideas, and develop their own voice as a writer, whilst understanding the commercial demands of television. This is an inspiring course with a brilliant teacher sharing experience and tips you will utilise for the rest of your writing career – not to be missed!”
Jenny Ayres – Writer and Actress. Graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme. Short films include ‘Lost and Broken’ and ‘Paths of Faith’ (filmed in Budapest and Milan with the support of the Arts Council). Commissioned stage play ‘Trouble and Strife’ won the Words and Women ‘About’ competition 2015.
“I came to this course with curiosity and trepidation, having never tackled the subject before. I left it fired with enthusiasm. Russ Gascoigne brought this quite technical subject vividly to life. Not only have I produced my first piece of script writing, I am also watching drama with new interest and understanding. Russ introduced plenty of film clips to illustrate each point, plus a good dash of humour and realism. It was notable that we all ‘stayed the course’, encouraged by his ‘can do’ attitude.”
Penny Weedon Kerr
“I found Russ Gascoigne’s Scriptwriting Workshop Online excellent. Russ’ feedback was comprehensive, generous and gave me a much clearer idea on how to improve my idea and writing skills thereby becoming a much better writer. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this online course to any writer – it’s money well spent considering the breadth of knowledge and experience this gives you access to. I wish that Russ lived in my house!!!”
“Russ Gascoigne has years of industry experience and a successful portfolio of televised drama, including A Touch of Frost, with an international reach. He is an exceptional teacher; he understands what is required for a script to be commissioned and is able to thoroughly communicate that process with clarity and enthusiasm to his students (while keeping them grounded in the realities of the business). We even had to do a pitch of our script to the class; this was helpful, as presenting the seed of our idea before we had written the script forced us to contemplate many aspects of the story we wanted to tell and how we would most effectively do that. It was quite nerve-wracking having the class and the tutor grill us, but as Russ explained, we had to be prepared to know and defend our choices. I learned a great deal about being more thorough and taking time to deeply consider characters, their motivations, and how those move (or hinder) the story.
Russ’s classes are fast-paced and exciting and dense with helpful online and printed resources. Russ knows good writing and is thus in a good position to teach, but more than that, he is passionate about what he does and nurtures his students so that they too can make the best of their talents (at whatever level) and feel a great sense of achievement. As well as being taught the mechanics of script-writing, we also learned about the industry, the realities (both positive and quite challenging) of being a script-writer. Russ shared many of his experiences and also gave us weekly articles and blogs from other script-writers and these offered an often humorous insight into the profession. I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn about the industry.”
Clare Potter – Writer/University Lecturer
“Russ is a superb tutor who is both extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. The generous amounts of handouts given during the course are helpful, current and build to produce a library of knowledge for you to use well after course has finished. Basically the course offers everything you need to know about how to go about producing a script for a television drama with no questions being too small for Russ’s attention and no ambition too big.
With the Scriptwriting Workshop Online, having one on one attention with someone of Russ’s expertise is priceless. Russ’s insightful and helpful comments have gone a long way in improving my writing and with his encouragement my confidence in my ability to produce a script that works has grown accordingly.”
“When I started the Scripting a Television Drama course I was stuck in a rut with my writing, having completed one script many years ago. While I received some helpful and positive feedback from the BBC, I found it difficult to maintain momentum. Russ’ passion and enthusiasm actually got me writing again, pushing me to generate ideas and try new approaches to my writing. The course was very well balanced, providing a thorough and realistic insight into what it is like to write in the television industry, and how to break into the business. Hearing the experiences of a successful writer was invaluable and Russ was very friendly and approachable, encouraging the best out of all of us by setting interesting challenges each week. I genuinely looked forward to attending each session, learning how to pitch, sharpen up my writing and tell my story in the most effective way. The feedback I received on my final script was so helpful and now that I have been on the course I feel I am a far more effective storyteller. I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone with an interest in writing or the television industry.”
“Russell is a great, caring, tutor with a wealth of experience in the industry. He’s able to provide every participant on his course with the knowledge and understanding to go out and create something special. His advice and observations on your work are always on point. He looks for the honesty and truth in a piece of work which is essential in making any creative piece of work connect with the reader.”
Phillip Escott – writer/director 441. Films. Debut feature, CRUEL SUMMER, premiere at FrightFest 2016
“An enjoyable and beneficial course for anyone, of any ability, who’d like to try scriptwriting. The tutor, Russ Gascoigne, has considerable professional experience, and provides helpful, relevant, and straightforward advice. Highly recommended.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this course, Russ Gascoigne provides practical and realistic advice and guidance about scripting drama which is delivered in an accessible and enjoyable format. He generously shares his experiences as an established script writer, providing not only practical guidance on how to structure your script but what to do should you want to take scriptwriting further. I would whole heartedly recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in the subject, or who would like to try creative writing in a different format. You won’t be disappointed.”
“Doing the course helped me gain good experience in script writing and pitching. It is also a good chance to network with people of similar interests. It gave me insights into industry practices and the resources available were excellent.”
Rebecca Conley – BBC Production Trainee/documentary maker
“I am writing to say how valuable I found the course in Scriptwriting at Cardiff University. The course was run by Russ Gascoigne and I was studying for an M.A. in Screenwriting at Liverpool John Moores University at the time. Yours was a well-structured course that focused on the practicalities of scriptwriting and it certainly helped me with the Liverpool course.
Later, I enrolled on the Scriptwriting Workshop Online and received invaluable feedback. I would certainly consider participating in another.”
“The Scriptwriting Workshop Online is an amazing opportunity to get some critical advice from a professional. What’s even better is that you can fit it in around your busy life and that was definitely something that worked well for me. I found the advice very useful and now have a script that I’m really proud of.”
Alison – Producer, radio drama
“Coming from a science & engineering background but having an unfulfilled interest in scriptwriting, I enrolled on the Scripting a Television Drama course to see if it was something I might like to pursue. To my delight it was a real joy. The lecturer (Russ Gascoigne) completely understood his subject from first-hand experience and provided an excellent insight into the world of the scriptwriter, warts and all! The class gelled really well – not least in part to Russ’ great ability to encourage involvement – and we got the tools and knowledge we needed to get writing. My very first script is in the bag!”
“The Scriptwriting a Television Drama course provided a fascinating insight into a world I knew nothing about before. I now feel excited and far more confident about delving deeper into this form of writing.
The 10-week course is ideal both for students and people in full-time work to learn scriptwriting in a friendly and relaxed environment. Each two-hour session is crammed with discussion and useful hand-outs as well as thorough analysis of drama and film. The tutor, Russ Gascoigne was an endless source of information, who was very enthusiastic and comprehensive in his responses to all queries.
I would highly recommend the course to anyone with an interest in the field.”
Neil Collins – Published author & fanzine contributor
“What I really liked about feedback from the online course and what I benefited most from was Russ’ ability to see the script as a whole, evaluate the overall structure and shape of the writing, but also the scene by scene, character and dialogue aspects. It wasn’t always the easiest feedback to receive, but it was certainly the most helpful.”
Andrew Vidgen – Pyschologist
“Russ was a brilliant tutor – hugely flexible, encouraging and supportive. I’ve done similar courses (to the Scriptwriting Workshop Online) in a classroom setting and can honestly say I received far more input doing it online. Russ gave me advice and support tailored for my experience and talents and even helped me decide which projects had most commercial promise and which to drop
Whether you’ve had a script idea in your head for ages or have an urge to write but don’t know what about, Russ will help you refine your ideas and get it down on paper. Just finishing a script I was happy with felt like a huge achievement!”
Rachel Burge – Freelance feature writer
“With no prior experience or training in scriptwriting before attending this course, under your excellent guidance I gained significant insight into how to construct and write a TV drama, to the point where I was stimulated to embark upon writing a script, which is ongoing. I would recommend it to any prospective writer. I, and the other students who attended, thoroughly enjoyed the content of the course, the extracts of TV and film drama shown, the analysis of story, plot, character, dialogue, etc. and the teaching style you adopted, which invited contributions from all the participants throughout. Several of us had little idea beforehand about the process of pitching, writing, finding agents and identifying competitions/sources for having a script read. I found that aspect an education in itself. Having an experienced scriptwriter and former editor running the course gave credibility to everything we covered and I must thank you for making it both very interesting and enjoyable.”
“The Scripting a Television Drama course was informative in both its presentation and content. The teaching was of high quality and the class material and tasks allowed for a strong, friendly group dynamic to develop. I have come out of the class with such a breadth of knowledge that I now plan to use to further my script writing career and study it at Masters level. Highly recommended for those with any level of experience or interest.”
Timothy Collins – Film-maker. Shortlisted Yellow Spot Shorts Comp/Rough Draft/Sitcom Trials
“The Scripting a Television Drama course is thoroughly enjoyable and covers everything from dealing with agents and producers to formatting and pitching your script. Russ not only taught me, he inspired me to write more. I highly recommend the course to all writers whatever experience you may have.”
“Russ Gascoigne’s Scripting a TV Drama course was fun, practical, interesting and extremely helpful. He’s personable and straightforward and there’s no faffing about: you go to his classes and you find out what you need to know about scripting a drama. His abundance of professional experience means he knows what he’s talking about too – which is obviously a bonus!”
Bea Mitchell – freelance journalist
“The [Scripting a Television Drama] course was extremely rewarding. Well structured and taught with great expertise and enthusiasm, the ten week course gave me a valuable insight into the techniques of scripting a television drama. It was hugely enjoyable and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to any other potential writers.”
Martyn Ingram – Journalist/TV Producer
“Russ’s comments on my script were well-informed and constructive, providing the honest insight and advice I needed”.
Phil Croxall – Former BBC film editor/film-maker
“From the outset Russ established a good dynamic within the class and struck the perfect balance between instruction and encouragement. His lessons were always well-planned and perfectly timed – and from a student’s point of view extremely enjoyable and inspiring. We particularly enjoyed the way Russ compared theory to practice. He taught us structure, characterisation and how to write good dialogue and we looked at its practical application within films and television dramas with which we were familiar.
Shortly after beginning the course I was shortlisted for a short film competition. I was invited to a meeting where I had to pitch my idea to a panel comprising a director, a producer and the competition co-ordinator. Terrified, I emailed Russ with the news and a pleas for help – I didn’t know how to pitch. Within hours Russ responded with good, solid advice. He reassured me and outlined what I should focus on ie. the clarity of my idea, the dilemma the protagonist faces, the theme, the tone etc. He also offered to re-arrange his planned course outline and concentrate on pitching in the next session.
Russ demonstrates his skill as a teacher by weaving scriptwriting theory seamlessly into highly enjoyable practical sessions. Our lessons always seemed too short. None of us ever wanted to leave.”
Tracy Burton – copywriter/PR
“Working one-to-one with a tutor who is an experienced scriptwriter, gave me invaluable industry insight and the confidence and support to turn my idea into a finished script.”
Fay Blakeley – Branding & Marketing Consultant/book festival organiser
“The Scripting a Television Drama course was excellent. Russ’s own experiences of writing tv dramas made the classes so interesting and he was always happy to answer any questions (and there were a lot of questions). Russ gave lots of encouragement to all students, he even e-mailed anyone who missed a class so that they were up to date with what they’d missed. I just wish the course had been longer!”
“The Scriptwriting Workshop Online has been invaluable in developing my writing skills. The ongoing feedback and support has been detailed and constructive, not just in scriptwriting basics but in the very minutae of TV storytelling, and the experience is one I will continue to refer to as my writing career progresses.”
Paul McKay – Writer, ‘Like/Unlike’ TX BBC Wales 2014
“For a wannabe writer, getting quality constructive criticism can be a challenge. The Scriptwriting Workshop Online plugs a gap between the hand holding of a weekly meeting and the void of the blank page. Russ’s crisp and timely comments helped keep me on track to develop, revise and complete a 30 min script over the period of the course. I would happily recommend it to others wanting to branch out and develop their own style – but with the security of a safety net.
“As a full-time student, my motivation for coming to the class was to learn new skills and enhance writing techniques. I found the classes fun, informative and a good source of inspiration. The wide variety of material examined gave an impressive insight. The experience was both worthwhile and rewarding.”
“The Scriptwriting Workshop Online offers an opportunity to work at your own pace, but with the constant encouragement and guidance of a professional. Any writer trying to find their feet will find it invaluable.”
Steve Coombs – Screenwriting MA student
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Russ’s scriptwriting course as a great starting point for any aspiring scriptwriter.
Russ’s approach is engaging, encouraging, interactive – and fun. He uses debate, discussion and real examples (both good and bad) to shape essential skills, while offering an expert insight into the writing process. If you want a practical, professional and motivating kick start to your scriptwriting career, this is the course for you.”
Graham Findlay – Disability consultant
“Russ is a great teacher, he’s very attentive to students and has a lot of knowledge and experience to pass on. I feel my writing has greatly improved since taking part in the Scripting a Television Drama course. I would recommend working with Russ to anyone wishing to become a better writer.”
Alix Martin – Web designer
Join my Courses
- For details about the Scripting a TV Drama course click here.
- For details about the Scriptwriting Workshop Online click here.