BBC Arts and Avalon announce today (18th July) the casting and directors for DEBUT – a unique new initiative enabling four professional creatives – Bim Adewunmi, Katherine Parkinson, Beryl Richards and Frank Skinner – who have never written for the stage before to create their debut play. All four plays will be directed by emerging directors giving a new generation of talent an opportunity to direct a play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018.

Sarah Bedi (All Places that the Eye of Heaven Visits), Tinuke Craig (random/generations), Polina Kalinina (Gifted) and Jane Moriarty (Because) will direct the four plays and make their Edinburgh Theatre debuts. Casting includes James Alexandrou (EastEnders) in Sitting; Rob Auton (Rob Auton: The Talk Show also at Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Breffni Holahan (Everything Not Saved also at Edinburgh Festival Fringe) in Nina’s Got News; Stuart Milligan (Jonathan Creek) in Diamond and Faith Alabi (Belleville) in Hoard.


Diamond, by director Beryl Richards (six-time Bafta award-winning and two-time Emmy-nominated TV and film director known for projects including Joe All Alone, The Secret Life Of Boys, Uncle Dad, My Life As A Popat) will be directed by Jane Moriarty and follows successful surgeon Jordan, who embarks on a journey of discovery, revelation and redemption following his estranged mother’s death.  The cast are Nancy Baldwin (Night of the Iguana), Jenny Lee (Hollyoaks), Eoin Lynch (Ripper Street), Amy McAllister (Call The Midwife) and Stuart Milligan (Jonathan Creek).


Hoard by journalist Bim Adewunmi (senior culture editor for BuzzFeed News and columnist for the Guardian) will be directed by Tinuke Craig and tells the story of three sisters and their mother as they face up to old hurts and upspoken tensions. The cast are Faith Alabi (Belleville), Babirye Bukilwa (Filthy Business), Pepter Lukunse (Nell Gwynn), John Omole (Hollyoaks) and Lucy Vandi (School of Rock).


Sitting by actor Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Doc Martin, The Honourable Woman, Humans) will be directed by Sarah Bedi and tells the story of three people, years apart from each other, who are sitting for a painting in artist’s studio. The cast are James Alexandrou (EastEnders) and Grace Hogg Robinson (The Durrells) and Hayley Jayne Standing (Downton Abbey).


Nina’s Got News by writer and comedian Frank Skinner (Room 101, Portrait Artist Of The Year, Don’t Start) will be directed by Polina Kalinina and is about Nina’s truly incredible news, how her ex-boyfriend and her best friend react to it, and whether they can possibly believe ­her. The cast are Rob Auton (Rob Auton: The Talk Show), Jessica Clark (Call The Midwife) and Breffni Holahan (Everything Not Saved).


Jonty Claypole, the BBC’s Director of Arts, said:

“We are delighted to be able to announce such an excellent range of directors and cast to join the writers working on these plays. Debut is all about mixing talents from the worlds of theatre and broadcast, and creating and developing new work that may have an afterlife across these areas.”

Jon Thoday, Joint MD of Avalon, said:

“We are excited to be bringing to Edinburgh a group of writers who have never written a play for the stage before and pleased to be partnering with BBC arts in this venture which we hope will bring some new interesting new works to fringe audiences for years to come.”


For 70 years, the Edinburgh Fringe has been the birthplace of critically-acclaimed breakout productions including Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966) and Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s Jerry Springer The Opera (2002), whilst writers such as Jez Butterworth (aged just 19) and Enda Walsh found early success with respective plays Cooking in a Bedsitter (1991) and Disco Pigs (1997) there too.

DEBUT embraces the Edinburgh Fringe as the platform it was designed for, as an environment for creative collaborations and new work to be seen and evolve, ready for whatever might happen beyond the Fringe.



Notes to Editors
Anyone who is a professional writer who is interested in finding out more about getting involved with the initiative please get in touch with


The Plays

Diamond (Underbelly Bistro Square, The Dairy Room, 1-26 August, 4.15pm).

By Beryl Richards

Directed by Jane Moriarty

Designed by Louie Whitemore

Lighting by Sarah Louise McColgan

Sound by Ed Lewis


Beryl Richards is a multi-Bafta Award-winning and Emmy-nominated TV and film director best known for Joe All Alone (BBC), The Secret Life of Boys (BBC/ABC), Uncle Dad (ITV), My Life As A Popat (ITV) and The Ward (ITV). As a specialist in family and children’s comedy and drama, Beryl was elected chair of Directors UK in 2015 and won the 2016 Women in Film and TV ITV Achievement Of The Year Award. Diamond is her first ever play.

“I just had to see you. I… just y’know… just once. Once. I needed to.”

Reunited with the mother who abandoned him at birth, successful surgeon Jordan rejects her. Shortly after his mother’s death, he realizes that he may never know the truth about his origins. Everything changes when a mysterious young woman arrives unexpectedly, sparking Jordan to embark on a journey of discovery, revelation, and redemption.


Hoard (Underbelly Cowgate, White Belly, 1-26 August, 5.20pm

by Bim Adewunmi

Directed by Tinuke Craig

Designed by Susannah Henry

Lighting by Sarah Louise McColgan

Sound by Ed Lewis


Hoard is the debut play by Bim Adewunmi, senior culture writer for BuzzFeed News and columnist with Guardian Weekend. She is a 2018 finalist at the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) Ellie Awards, and her work has appeared in Vogue, Mslexia, Red, and Monocle, among several others. Hoard is Bim’s first every play.

“If I hadn’t come here this evening, when would I have met him?”

Rafi and Ami are about to meet their little sister’s boyfriend for the first time. Out of the blue, their mother arrives. Wura often shows up unannounced, and it’s never been a problem – except this time, it is. Why doesn’t she know Brian exists? For this close-knit family a secret has explosive consequences, one that forces the three sisters and their mother to face up to old hurts and unspoken tensions.


Sitting (Gilded Balloon Teviot, The Dining Room, 1-26 August, 3.15pm).

by Katherine Parkinson

Directed by Sarah Bedi

Designed by Susannah Henry

Lighting by Sarah Louise McColgan

Sound by Ed Lewis


Sitting is the debut play by Bafta Award-winning actress Katherine Parkinson, whose credits include The IT Crowd (Channel 4), Doc Martin (ITV), The Honourable Woman (BBC Two) and Humans (Channel 4). Sometimes emotional, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, Parkinson turns her talents to playwriting for the first time in her extensive career. Sitting is Katherine’s first ever play.

“Do you even need me here? I think you do. Actually.”

In an artist’s studio, three different people sit for a painting. They find themselves in the same chair for very different reasons and years apart from each other, but they are all searching for a connection. Will they find it?


Nina’s Got News (Pleasance, Queen Dome, 1-26 August, 2.50pm).

By Frank Skinner

Directed by Polina Kalinina

Designed by Louie Whitemore

Lighting by Sarah Louise McColgan

Sound by Ed Lewis


In 1987 Frank Skinner spent £400 of the last £435 in his bank account to book a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time. Four years later he took home the Perrier Award (now Edinburgh Comedy Award) – the most prestigious prize in comedy. His first book spent 46 weeks in the Sunday Times Bestseller List. His first single, Three Lions, has gone to number one on three separate occasions. He’s written and fronted television programmes including Fantasy Football, The Frank Skinner Show and Room 101. His radio show has won three gold ARIAs and saw him inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame. Nina’s Got News is Frank’s first ever play.

A show about Nina’s truly incredible news, how her ex-boyfriend and her best friend react to it, and whether they can possibly believe her.


Director Biographies

Sarah Bedi is co-artistic director of BAZ Productions. Her directing credits include All Places that the Eye of Heaven Visits (Shakespeare’s Globe/Westminster Abbey); Sweet Love Remember’d (Shakespeare’s Globe); dreamplay, MacbethProphesy (BAZ Productions); Parallelist (Aldeburgh Music Festival); Further than the Furthest Thing (Young Vic); Reality (Oval House); City Love (Bussey Building); The Riots, Three Days in the Country (Rose Bruford); Zero for the Young Dudes! (Central School of Speech and Drama). Development work at HighTide festival, Finborough, Pleasance, Soho Theatre, Dartington Hall and the V&A museum.

Tinuke Craig’s theatre credits as a director include random/generations (Chichester Festival Theatre), I Call My Brothers (Gate Theatre) and dirty butterfly (Young Vic). Tinuke’s assistant and associate director credits include (National Theatre), Hamlet and All’s Well that Ends Well (RSC) and The Changeling (Young Vic). Tinuke was Associate Director of the Gate Theatre from 2015-2016, and is currently a reader for the Royal Court and an associate artist of HighTide, a selector for the National Student Drama Festival, an associate of the National Youth Theatre, and an Education Associate Practicioner at the RSC. Tinuke also won the Genesis Future Director Award in 2014.

Polina Kalinina theatre credits include Islanders (SOHO Upstairs), Romeo and Juliet (Tobacco Factory, Bristol and tour), Playboy of the Western World (Southwark Playhouse), Dutchman (Orange Tree Theatre),  Flashes (SOHO Upstairs), Gifted (Pleasance Downstairs), Julius Caesar (Bernie Grant and Neuss Shakespeare Festival), Play 9 (Vault Festival), Titus Andronicus (Mountview), Overruled (The Old Red Lion Theatre),  Asya (LAMDA). Polina has also been an associate director on the following productions: The Events (Young Vic, national and international tour), Blind Hamlet (Assembly Roxy, national and international tour), Brighton Beach Project (Shoreditch Town Hall), and an assistant on Next Time I’ll Sing To You (Orange Tree Theatre), Saved/ Piano Forte/ Jerusalem (Royal Court Gala, Shoreditch Town Hall), The Conspirators (Orange Tree Theatre), Daisy Pulls it Off (Lyric Hammersmith), Dancing at Lughnasa (LAMDA), Mill on the Floss (LAMDA and The Old Laundry Theatre).

Jane Moriarty was Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio in 2016-17.
As Director: Taste of Shakespeare (The Crypt), Blue Stockings, As You Like It,  (Mountview), Because (Theatre Royal Haymarket for Moving Stories), Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down (White Bear Theatre), Boxed In (Pleasance Theatre), Night of January 16th (White Bear Theatre) and Boston Marriage (Cockpit Theatre). As Assistant Director: The Birthday Party (Harold Pinter Theatre), Queen Anne (Theatre Royal Haymarket and RSC), The Christmas Truce (RSC), Fortune’s Fool (Old Vic), The Taming of the Shrew, The King James Bible (Shakespeare’s Globe), Molly Sweeney (The Print Room), but i cd only whisper (Arcola) and Life for Beginners (Theatre503). Jane is also an Education Associate Practitioner at the RSC.


Cast Biographies


Nancy Baldwin plays Betty. Nancy’s theatre credits include Night of the Iguana (Lyric Theatre, West End), Parade, Stuart Little (Polka Theatre) Beyond Therapy (Swansea Grand Theatre), Little Women (Bloomsbury Theatre), I Can Get It For You Wholesale (Arcola Theatre), Lucky Stiff (Canal Café Theatre), and American Dream (Union Theatre).  Film credits include: Mumbo Jumbo, The UK of A Ticket to Glory, Mamma Mia! The Movie, Everest, London Has Fallen, Hyde Park on Hudson, Clothes & Blow and Drone Strike.  Nancy’s television work includes Dr Who, The Night Manager and Silent Witness.

Jenny Lee plays Annie. Her theatre credits Kindertransport, It Is Easy To Be Dead (Olivier Award nomination 2017,Trafalgar Studios), Driving Miss Daisy (Wyndham’s Theatre), The Slab Boys Trilogy (Young Vic), Markings (Southwark Playhouse, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), Anne Of Green Gables (Lilian Baylis Theatre), The Normal Heart (Royal Court at the Albery Theatre), I Didn’t Always Live Here and The Flou’ers of Edinburgh (Finborough), Hurricane Roses (National Theatre Studio), Jessie Kesson – A Good Crack At Life (RSC Summerhouse and Tour), Lady Windermere’s Fan and Fifth Of July (Bristol Old Vic), Great Expectations (UK Tour), The Merry Wives of Windsor  (New Wolsey Ipswich), Beckett’s Happy Days (Edinburgh Festival and tour), Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Gateway, Chester), Birds of Paradise (Garrick Theatre), Your Own Thing (Comedy Theatre),  Squire Jonathan and his Unfortunate Treasure (Royal Court),  The Steamie (Pitlochry Festival Theatre) A Tender Thing,  and Juliet  (Duke’s Lancaster) 2016. Her television credits include Hollyoaks,  Monarch of the Glen (series), Hope It Rains (series), On The Up, EastEnders, Hot Metal, The Unknown Soldier, Nothing Like A Dame, Doctors,    Roughnecks, Taggart, Extras, Holby City, Still Game and Dr Who. Jenny has twice been a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company. For many years she was artistic director of ATTIC Theatre Company, retiring in 2014.

Eoin Lynch plays Jordan. His theatre work includes The Playboy of the Western World, Riders to the Sea, Deirdre of the Sorrows, The Tinkers Wedding (Druid), Hurl, Luca, The Parable of the Plums (Barabbas), Orfeo ed Euridice, ChamberMade (Cois Ceim), Boy Soldier, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Riddley Walker, Climb (Red Kettle), Voyage, Little Light, The Gift (Monkeyshine) and The Night Alive (First Knight). His film and television credits include Ripper Street, Single-Handed , The Clinic, The Boxer, Fair City, and High Water. Eoin is co-Artistic Director of Wildefolk Theatre Company.

Amy McAllister plays Mondie. Her theatre credits include one-person show Scorch (Soho Theatre and International Tour) for which she won the Summerhall Best Actor Award, My Romantic History (Live Theatre), Hecuba (RSC), Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing, A Northern Odyssey and White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Live Theatre), Forever Yours, Mary Lou (Theatre Royal Bath), Shadow of a Gunman (Abbey/Lyric Theatre) and Sons Without Fathers (Arcola). Her film and television credits include Witless, Philomena, The Great Fire, Call The Midwife and the forthcoming For Love Or Money. Her debut poetry collection Are You As Single As That Cream? is published by Burning Eye and she is the current Hammer & Tongue London Slam Champion.​

Stuart Milligan plays Norm/Annie/Betty. His theatre credits include Dessert (Southwark Playhouse), Red Barn, Evening At The Talkhouse (National Theatre), The Last Confession (Triumph Entertainment/Royal Haymarket), Jersey Boys (London West End), All My Sons (Royal Lyceum Edinburgh), The Price (Manchester Library Theatre), The Graduate (London West End), Oklahoma! (National Theatre), The Fishing Trip (Croydon Warehouse), The Normal Heart (Royal Court/London West End), The Price (Library Theatre, Manchester), Owen Meany (National Theatre), Crazy For You (London West End), The Foreigner (London West End). His television include credits The Forgiving Earth, Benidorm, Berlin Station, Serial – Angel of Decay, Suspicion, The Assets, Doctor Who, Land Girls, Tank Commander, Jonathan Creek, Lewis and Midsomer Murders. His film credits include: Red Joan, Hunter Killer, Dead Ahead, Gary Beinhart in Prague Duet, Razor Edge, Festival, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Dead End, Frank Di 9/11 Twin Towers, Into Thin Air, Spy Game and But Beautiful.



Faith Alabi plays Rafi. Her theatre credits include Eclipsed (Gate Theatre), Hamlet and Belleville (Donmar Warehouse). She recently wrapped filming VERA for ITV and other television credits iclude Granchester and Cold Feet.

Babirye Bukilwa plays Ami. Babirye’s theatre credits include The Empire Strikes Back (Arcola Theatre), The Cherry Orchard (The Nottingham Playhouse) and Filthy Business (Hampstead Theatre). Screen credits include Ackee and Saltfish and Babylon.

Pepter Lukunse plays Bili. Pepter’s theatre credits Holes (Nottingham Playhouse), Nell Gwynn (Globe/ETT), King Lear (Royal Exchange Theatre/Birmingham Rep/Talawa and broadcast on BBC), The Crucible (Royal Exchange Theatre), Twelfth Night (Iris Theatre at St Paul’s Church), The Vertical Hour (Park Theatre), Liberian Girl (Royal Court at London 2014 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict), Antony and Cleopatra (Chichester Festival Theatre). Her television credits include Casualty (BBC), Father Brown (BBC), Exposure: Child Trafficking (Wild Pictures) and Sink (BBD Productions). Pepter trained at Arts Ed.

John Omole plays Brian. John’s theatre credits include: King Lear (RSC/BAM New York), Hamlet (RSC/Hackney Empire/The Kennedy Centre Washington), #Hashtag Lightie (Arcola Theatre), Red Balloon (Theatre 503) and Jamaica Boy (Team Angelica/Theatre Royal Stratford East). His TV credits include: Chewing Gum, the regular role of Vincent Elegba in Hollyoaks, Doctors and Miss Wright.

Lucy Vandi plays Wura. Lucy’s theatre credits include Guys and Dolls (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), School of Rock (New London Theatre, West End), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Life of Galileo (National Theatre), Jerry Springer the Opera (National Theatre and Cambridge Theatre, West End), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Leicester Haymarket Theatre) and Jack and the Beanstalk (Theatre Royal, Stratford East). Screen credits include Doctors and Mile High.



James Alexandrou plays Luke. James’ stage credits include Europe After The Rain (Mercury Theatre Colchester), The Knowledge (Charing Cross Theatre), Sleuth (Nottingham Playhouse / West Yorkshire Playhouse), Othello (Leicester Square Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), As You Like It and Henry V (British Shakespeare Company). Screen credits include Silent Witness; Semper Fidel; You, Me and Them; Casualty; Soror; Missing; Fingers; EastEnders.

Grace Hogg Robinson plays Cassandra. Grace’s stage credits include Broken Biscuits (Paines Plough at Live Theatre and tour). Screen credits include The Coroner; Troy: Fall of a City; Mum; Silent Witness; The Durrells and Camping.

Hayley Jayne Standing plays Mary. As a writer performer Hayley made her much-anticipated Edinburgh Fringe debut with her side splitting character comedy show Britain’s Youngest Grandma. Hayley’s film credits include Peterloo. Television credits include Downton Abbey and Hometime.


Nina’s Got News

Rob Auton plays Chris. Rob is a comedian, spoken word artist, and performer. Rob will be performing his comedy show, Rob Auton: The Talk Show, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018. Rob has three collections of writings and illustrations published by Burning Eye books and has had his poetry turned into short films for channel 4. He was shortlisted for the 2015 Arts Foundation Spoken Word Prize in association with the Southbank.

Jessica Clark plays Nina. Jessica’s stage credits include Rotterdam (Trafalgar Studios), The Here and This and Now (The Drum) and My Dear I wanted to Tell You (Soho Theatre. Screen credits include Call the Midwife and Versailles.

Breffni Holahan plays Vanessa. Breffni has worked extensively with leading Irish theatre companies such as Dead Centre (Chekhov’s First Play), Collapsing Horse (The Water Orchard, Science Fiction Radio Hour, ​and ​Distance From The Event), Brokentalkers (This Beach), Anu Productions (VARDO), and Rough Magic (Enjoy, The Way To Heaven, and The Critic). In 2015, she co-founded MALAPROP Theatre, and has devised and performed award-winning works such as ​LOVE+ and​ Everything Not Saved (upcoming: Summerhall Edinburgh Fringe 2018). Everything Not Saved will be released as a shortfilm in autumn 2018 as a co-production with RTE.


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