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‘Downton Abbey’ Producer Sets Up Drama Development Scheme for Emerging Writers

Carnival Films, the NBCUniversal-owned production company behind “Downton Abbey,” has set up the Collective, an initiative that will see it work with up-and-coming writers and create a new drama development slate.

The first writers in the program are Grace Ofori-Attah (“In the Long Run”), Ben Lewis (“Psychobitches”), Roanne Bardsley (“Hollyoaks”), James Fritz (“Parliament Square”), and comedy and drama duo Matilda Wnek and Ryan O’Sullivan (“Other People”).

Carnival’s head of development, Jo Strevens will oversee the initiative with development producer, Tara Cook, and development executive, Claire Daxter. The London-based production company will train and guide the writers to work up new projects in response to briefs from broadcasters. “Carnival aims to create a fresh development slate with the Collective talent, in direct response to broadcaster needs,” the company said.

Carnival, which makes “The Last Kingdom” and “Stan Lee’s Lucky Man,” has employed breakout talent on several of its shows including “Jamestown.”

Gareth Neame, executive chairman, said: “We are always seeking to expand our horizons in terms of the best writing talent, and take our responsibility to nurture talent very seriously. ‘Collective’ is a great way of doing just that and we’re delighted to be working with some of the most exciting, emerging creative voices coming out of the U.K. today.”

Grace Ofori-Attah added: “Having the opportunity to sit down and discuss your ideas with a group of talented writers, as well as experienced development executives in an open, safe and supportive environment is invaluable. The scheme will challenge me to step outside my comfort zone and give me the confidence to really run riot with my ideas.”

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