Press release

Sally Wainwright awarded the prestigious Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, in partnership with BFI and Film4

British multi award-winning screenwriter Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Scott & Bailey) has been awarded the 2016 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, in partnership with BFI and Film4.

The Fellowship carries an award of £30,000 together with a year-long tailored experience including unparalleled access to some of the most exciting scientific and humanities research in the world.

Selected from over 100 names nominated by the film and television industries, the award was made in recognition of Wainwright’s distinct voice and clear commitment to research and authenticity.

Now in its fourth year, the Fellowship is celebrated as a major annual award designed to nurture enquiring minds and unique voices and bring the worlds of film and science closer together. Previous fellowships have been awarded to Clio Barnard (2013), Jonathan Glazer (2014) and Carol Morley (2015).

This year the Fellowship was opened to individuals working in television as well as film, in recognition of television’s exceptional quality and the innovative vision of its writers. Receiving the award Sally Wainwright said:It was an unexpected delight and honour to be offered the Fellowship. My career has taken me in many directions, so I am curious and excited to see where this opportunity leads me.  I cannot think of a better place to research, explore and understand the human condition than Wellcome. I look forward enormously to being inspired by everyone and everything.

Simon Chaplin, Wellcome’s Director of Culture and Society, said:The Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to delve into what it really means to be human and is the start of what we hope is a lifelong exploration into the world of science. We’ve had the pleasure of following the journeys of Carol Morley, Jonathan Glazer and Clio Barnard over the last three years and are incredibly excited that Sally Wainwright is taking up the 2016 Screenwriting Fellowship. She will undoubtedly bring a new perspective to the world of Wellcome.

The intention of the Fellowship is to give a screenwriter time and space to explore without the constraints of a specific project. In doing this, the partners hope to make the Fellowship’s influence profound and long-lived, and hopefully inspire films for years to come. The Fellowship is the start of a long-term relationship with Wellcome, with all fellows enjoying continued access and support.

The Fellowship, awarded by the Fellowship Panel, is chaired by Kate Leys with Lizzie Francke (Senior Development and Production Executive, BFI), Eva Yates (Creative Executive, Film4), Meroë Candy (Development Manager, Film and Drama, Wellcome) and Iain Dodgeon (Broadcast, Games and Film Manager, Wellcome).

Talking about her year, 2015 Fellow Carol Morley, said: “Wellcome has expanded my brain, and my heart - I have discovered so much that speaks so potently about the human condition. Meeting and sharing ideas with archivists, librarians, scientists, and project managers has been incredibly significant, and has had a major impact on the stories and films I am developing. The Fellowship has been a highlight of my filmmaking years, the most brilliant experience, and a total privilege”.

Whilst there is no obligation for the fellow to produce anything as a result of the bursary, the influence and legacy of this unique experience is beginning to emerge. Last year’s fellow Carol Morley has announced that she’s in the research stage for a film titled Typist, Artist, Pirate, King about the undiscovered life of artist Audrey Amiss, whose archive is held in the Wellcome Library. While 2013 Fellow, Clio Barnard is now in post-production with her latest film Dark River, which was developed during her Fellowship when she met with psychologists and psychiatrists working on traumatic memory. The film is backed by Film4, Screen Yorkshire, the BFI and Wellcome, produced by Moonspun Films/Left Bank Pictures and was developed by Film4, the BFI and Wellcome.

Lizzie Francke, BFI Senior Production and Development Executive said:We need our artists - our novelists, poets, playwrights and filmmakers and screenwriters even more now to raise their voices above the cacophony and cleave their audiences together in some collective story telling harmony. As this year's Wellcome screenwriting fellow, Sally Wainwright has provided some incredible, memorable collective moments in her work so far - bringing a mythic sensibility to the contemporary, a freshness to the familiar. It is incredibly exciting to think what her relationship with Wellcome might bring - her research here today transformed by her brilliant sense of story becoming a nation's talking point tomorrow."

Eva Yates, Creative Executive at Film4 said: "It's a great privilege for us at Film4 to continue partnering with Wellcome and BFI on this unique opportunity. Sally is such an exceptional and brilliant writer and director, a determined creator of deeply truthful and ambitious works. There's no more exciting prospect than to throw open the doors of Wellcome so that Sally and her characters may roam." 

Details of Fellowship:

  • A £30,000 bursary for one year

Plus Fellows can elect to take-up some or all of the following:

  • Access and introductions to leaders in the fields of science and medical history
  • Behind-the-scenes access to Henry Wellcome’s library, archive and collection of curios
  • Visits to research institutions and programmes which carry out work in areas such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and mental health conditions
  • A personal MRI brain scan and genome analysis for insight into neuroscience and genetics
  • Direct access to contemporary science research trials
  • A new interdisciplinary space to work alongside scientists, scholars and creative practitioners – The Hub at Wellcome Collection.