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Shelley Birse, one of Australia’s leading screenwriters, has won this year’s top  writing award at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 49th Annual AWGIE Awards, for the second season of the ABC’s cyber-thriller, The Code.

The Code also received the AWGIE Award for the Television: Miniseries – Original category. The first season of The Code  took out the Major Award in 2014, and this year’s award makes it the only series in history to have been recognised by two Major Awards for both of its seasons.”

More than 25 Australian writers have been honoured at this year’s Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Awards which were hosted by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on Friday night, 14 October 2016.

President of the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG), Jan Sardi, said that at a time when television is experiencing a global renaissance on an epic scale the Annual AWGIE Awards are a way of honouring the world-class talent of Australian screenwriters and playwrights.”

Click Here to view the full article by the Australian Writers Guild and to see the full list of winners.

Click Here to catch up on series 2 of The Code – all episodes are available on iview until this Thursday 20 October.

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Network Ten is delighted to announce the highly anticipated new contemporary drama, The Wrong Girl, premieres 8.30 Wednesday 28 September.

Based on the hit book by Zoë Foster Blake, The Wrong Girl follows the life of 29-year-old breakfast television producer Lily Woodward, played byJessica Marais. Like everyone, Lily wants a life rich in romance, a dynamic career and a happy family, but getting there is complicated.

Jessica Marais said: “I’m thrilled to bring the character of Lily Woodward to life. She is fun, confident, determined, quick to react and disarmingly charismatic. I hope audiences love her as much as I do.

“It has been a pleasure working with the exceptional cast and crew, and I’m incredibly proud to be involved in this fresh and exciting new drama”.

Joining Jessica is a stellar cast including Craig McLachlan, Kerry Armstrong, Madeleine West, Hamish Blake, Doris Younane, Steve Vizard, Rob Collins, Ian Meadows, Hayley Magnus, Kevin Harrington, Leah Vandenberg, Christie Whelan Browne, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, David Woods andCecelia Peters.

Network Ten Head of Drama, Rick Maier, said: “We’ve waited years to find the right vehicle for Jessica Marais, and it’s a great joy to welcome her to TEN.

“If you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes on a morning breakfast show, then this is the show for you. The Wrong Girl is fresh, funny, romantic and – we hope – does justice to Zoë Foster Blake’s brilliant book.

Author Zoë Foster Blake said: “Having your novel made into a TV show is one thing, but having the very best writers, cast and crew create that TV show, and for it to air on Network Ten, well, that’s another thing entirely. I can’t wait for Australia to see The Wrong Girl. It and Jessica Marais in particular are everything I hoped for: funny, heartfelt, relevant and authentic.”

The Wrong Girl is for anyone who has diligently played by the rules, only to realise everyone else is playing a different game.

The Wrong Girl premieres 8.30 Wednesday September 28 on TEN

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Click Here to read the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘”Australian television is undergoing a revolution, albeit a gentle one, in which the voices of screenwriters are rising in volume.

It is, in part, a response to the success of risky genre-based dramas such as The Kettering Incident, Wentworth, Top of the Lake and The Code. “I feel like there are more broadcasters prepared to take those kind of risks, more than ever before,” screenwriter Shelley Birse says. “I’ve been writing 20 years, and it feels like the last three or four, the ceiling on what you can get people excited about has just been blown out of the water.”

Birse, who wrote The Code for Playmaker Media, is in Los Angeles as part of a program sponsored by Playmaker’s US parent, Sony Pictures Television.

The program, Scribe, pairs Australian writers with US writers as part of a program to help them develop new work and skill them as writer “showrunners”.

The writer “showrunner” model dominates US television, with most scripted projects steered by a writing producer, typically teamed with a directing producer and several other co-executive producers.

In Australia, the writer’s voice has historically been less prominent and drama development has been network executive led.

“The writers’ rooms are not that different, but the continuation of that writer’s voice into production, that’s where the gulf in Australia has been really different,” Birse says. “That just doesn’t exist. [In the US] the writer’s voice is the loudest and most important all the way through.”

Birse and another writer Glen Dolman, who wrote the award-winning telemovie Hawke for Ten, are the first two writers in the program.

Birse is working with Graham Yost (The Americans, Justified) and Dolman with veteran CSI producer Carol Mendelsohn.

The intention is that Yost and Mendelsohn will continue to steward the two writers, and the projects they are working on, remotely once Birse and Dolman return to Australia.

Playmaker’s David Maher says the scheme is also a reaction to a larger cultural shift in which borders are breaking down and local fine print – such as accents – are mattering far less to international broadcasters who are looking for new content.

“There are no concerns about accents, and parochial storytelling or overt regionality being a barrier, to be able to do that is far less of a concern now than it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago when I was working for Fox,” Maher says.

Australia’s success in exporting scripted formats is mixed, though we were unusually early pioneers of the idea.

In the 1980s Grundys, now Fremantle Media, was a prolific seller of scripted soap opera remakes to Europe, including The Restless Years, Sons & Daughters and Prisoner.

More recently, Fremantle’s Wentworth has been reversioned in the Netherlands, Germany and now Belgium, and Maher confirms an Italian adaptation of Playmaker’s dramaHouse Husbands is underway.

In the case of Birse’s The Code, the series was sold – in its current format – to the BBC in Britain and to DirectTV in the US. It has also been sold to Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland and Canada.

Maher hopes the relationships built empower Australian writers and push them out of their comfort zone.

“Empowering writers is the reason we did it, and the chance to access some of those amazingly talented writers, like Graham and Carol,” Maher says.

“It’s an opportunity to bring Australian writers to LA for a week where they can actually sit and work, bringing their ideas and to work with craftsmen like Graham and Carol, it’s just invigorating,” Maher says.”To then get home and have someone like that still there as a long-distance mentor, is very lucky.”

Birse says her experience working with Yost has already paid dividends.

“He will push me to think a bit more boldly and tell me to make some mistakes that I might not be prepared to make without feeling like somebody that experienced is helping hold the wheel a bit,” she says.”I feel like he’s going to give me a lot of shit a long the way,” she adds. “That’s good. He’ll hassle me, give me a hard time, but it’s of the best kind of quality.”‘