Pitch to Pilot: Writing TV Drama

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Pitch to Pilot: Writing TV Drama

Sat, 2 Mar 2024 to Sat, 8 Jun 2024

Format: 6-session Saturday course on March 2, 9, 16, April 20, May 25, June 22
Times: 10:30am - 4:30pm
Capacity: Max. 6 participants
Fee: £800

Ready to write your own TV series? What do you need to know? What do you need to deliver? Who do you deliver it to? And how do you go about that? 

This course with writer/producer Neil Arksey is aimed at experienced writers in theatre, prose, radio, comedy, advertising, or related fields, who want to learn more about how drama series are created and written and how to develop and pitch them. 

On six Saturdays, over four months, six participants will develop their own original drama series. The group will be taken though a step by step introduction to the various techniques and methods employed in breaking a pilot and pitching the show. 

The course will focus on three main areas: 

  • Developing your own original idea for a drama. 

  • Translating that idea into pilot beats, scene-by-scenes and a screenplay. 

  • Crafting a compelling pitch document that will sell the show. 

In addition to an initial group project designed to enable writers to swiftly absorb techniques and processes they will need for developing their own projects, each writer will also develop a first draft of their pilot episode and a pitch document for that show.  

The course will also examine the development of a continuing serial drama and trace each step of how productions are managed in-house, from initial idea to full concept, storylines, block outlines, futures and scripts. As a consequence, participants will leave the course much better equipped to participate in writers’ rooms and to understand what is required to work successfully in the script and story offices of a continuing or serial drama. 


Topics covered in the classes include: 

  • The history and importance of serial story telling in TV drama 

  • Story Development 

  • Writers’ Rooms and working collaboratively  

  • Original Drama Ideas 

  • Character, Setting and Story 

  • Plot and Structure 

  • Beats, Act Structures and Scene by Scenes 

  • Breaking the Pilot 

  • Script Editing, Revising and Redrafting 

  • Crafting the killer outline 

  • Pitching 

  • Industry insights 

Applicants will be expected to have had some (not necessarily professional) writing experience. They will be required to complete substantial in-class and homework assignments in order to achieve the course objective of completing a draft pilot script and outline document. Email access and sharing email contact are essential. 

The course has been designed with lengthy breaks between sessions to maximise writing time and allow participants to complete the scripts of their original drama projects. 

By the final week, writers that have completed all their assignments will have developed their own serial drama idea all the way to a first draft pilot script and received one-to-one feedback on their project from Neil.  



All sessions take place from 10.30am to 4.30pm. ( IN-PERSON) 


  • Introductions. Course timetable and outline. 

  • Different kinds of drama. Serial, series, continuing. Production context etc. 

  • Each participant will be developing their own individual original drama series to pilot. 

  • Brainstorming ideas for the Group Project. 

  • The outline/pitch document – what it’s comprised of. 

  • Group Project: Pitch Group Project ideas. Choose. Discuss setting, core characters, timeline etc. 

Homework: Individual Project: prepare to pitch idea / Group Project: brainstorming ideas for story strands 



  • Individual Project: First pitch of series idea. 

  • Discussion of the in-house team and working methods of a continuing drama production office; and also the relationship of this to freelance writers. 

  • Group Project: create the beats for pilot story strands. 

  • Storylining – strands and beats. 

  • Pitch, choose and allot pilot stories for Group Project. 

  • Writing story beats for designated story strands 

  • Homework: Individual Project: revise idea if necessary and complete outline package for next week / Group Project: turning the story strands of beats into a scene-by-scene for the launch episode. 



  • Group Project final: sharing/discussing scene-by-scenes. 

  • Individual Project: pitching loglines, synopses and other revised elements. 

  • Individual Project: clarifying potential story strands 

  • Individual Project: discussing key elements and structure of pilot 

  • Homework: Individual Project: creating the beats for the pilot. If ready, writing the scene-by-scene. 




  • Examining the pilot beats 

  • Turning beats and/or a scene-by-scene into a script – scene descriptions and dialogue 

  • Writing an outline: full length and one-pager 

Homework: Individual Project: writing first draft of pilot script and pitch document 




  • Feedback on scene-by-scenes and first draft scripts 

  • Script editing and revising drafts. 

Homework: Individual Project: revise and complete pilot script & pitch document, to deliver by email before individual session. 




Individual Project: One-to-one meetings. Each writer will receive a verbal report on their Pilot Script and Pitch Document, and advice on further development.  



"The workshop was beyond expectations! Neil is a fantastic teacher and really pushed me to be focused and dedicated to my project. I've achieved so much under his mentoring. I would definitively recommend that workshop to anyone." 

Jean-Nicolas, 2021

"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned a great deal about what it takes to write for serial television drama. Neil is a highly knowledgeable and thoughtful teacher, who not only helped  us form and improve our scripts from the seed of an idea to a more complete piece, but also gave us practical insight about the industry and made each session fun and enjoyable. Thank you Neil!" 

Paola, 2019

Neil was fantastic. He was clear and synthetic, not dwelling on his personal achievements or what being a writer means to him but instead focusing on giving us the practical tools needed to make progress and the right insights based on a vast experience. The group exercises have allowed us to become very fond and caring of one another by the end of the course, which I find to be a remarkable thing as we are all from such different walks of life. There was space to be critically constructive to others. Here, Neil had constructed a balance and a trust strong enough for everyone to speak truthfully and receive honest and generous feedback.

Olivia, 2019

"I came to this course to improve my scene writing and came away having massively improved my story writing. It is incredible how elusive story can be and this course nailed it. Neil Arksey is a highly experienced and insightful tutor who gives 110% to each student. I learned the true nature of what a 'beat' is and how to craft a coherent visual story. The work was challenging and intense in the best of ways. I enjoyed working with my very talented peers and cannot recommend the course enough." 

Margot, 2017

"I started out with a kernel of an idea and ended up with a proposal pack!  The combination of the group work and the individual projects really worked for me, and allowed me to understand the best methods for properly realising a tv drama concept rather than trying to write a script straight off!  Neil taught me that preparation is everything - you can't solve a jigsaw if you don't have the pieces - and he is a great teacher.  The classes are well structured and most importantly, they are fun.  These tools will stay with me when I work up any script idea from now on, and I completed the course with so much more inspiration than when I started." 

Becky, 2017

Tutor profile: Neil Arksey, Screenwriter and Series Story Producer


Neil Arksey's workshops at LFS

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As screenwriter, story editor, development producer, head writer and series producer, Neil Arksey has been responsible for over a thousand episodes of serial drama at home and abroad. In the UK, he has worked on shows such as CROSSROADS, FAMILY AFFAIRS, DOCTORS, MILE HIGH, and RIVER CITY. And abroad, amongst other projects, he was head writer on Salatut Elämät, a 5-day-a-week soap in Finland, and series story producer on Jóban Rosszban, a continuing hospital drama set and based in Budapest.

In addition to working as a writer and producer, Neil has taught writing at several universities, colleges and film schools. He is the author of a number of popular books for children, teenagers and young adults, published by Penguin and Random House, including As Good As Dead In Downtown, Playing on the Edge and Flint.