Graduating actors compete for top prizes: The BBC Carleton Hobbs Competition

During the final year of RBC’s BA (Hons) Acting degree, all actors have the chance to audition to represent the school in any of the industry competitions that run throughout the year.

There are two rounds of internal auditions prior to the BBC Carleton Hobbs Competition, this determines the individuals that will represent Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. This is also an invaluable opportunity to practice audition techniques and receive feedback from working industry professionals before graduation.

BBC Radio Drama Carleton Hobbs Competition- what is it? 

The BBC Radio Drama Carleton Hobbs Competition continues to be an extremely prestigious bursary award that has been running for over 60 years. It offers students in their third year at drama school the opportunity to compete for one of five six-month contracts working as part of the repertory company at BBC Radio Drama. 19 drama schools (equating to 76 graduating actors) took part this year, including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Competing at the BBC – Ruth Page

I was fortunate enough to gain a place on the team representing Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for the 2019 BBC Radio Drama Carleton Hobbs Competition, alongside my peers Bethany Barnes, Tom Huxley-Golden and Harriet Rogers.

In the months leading up to the competition, we had weekly preparation sessions with our school technician, Simon Bloomfield, and our tutor, Peter Leslie Wild. Peter has been a senior producer at the BBC Radio Drama studios in Birmingham for the past 15 years and has worked with writers such as David Edgar and Simon Stephens. We also had an amazing session with Alison Belbin, a previous winner of the Norman Beaton Fellowship (a similar BBC Radio Drama bursary award for actors without formal drama school training). We recognised that we were fortunate to work with such experienced professionals, and incredibly grateful for all their support and guidance.

Peter was also able to arrange a visit to the Radio Drama studios at BBC Birmingham. This allowed us to experience being in a studio similar to the one we would record in at the competition. It was fascinating to see this versatile space and learn more about the tricks of the trade!

Between the four of us, we had to prepare two three-minute duologues and twelve one-minute monologues for the competition. We also frequently practised both solo and four-person unseen scripts, which we would be given on arrival at the BBC. Ultimately, we all felt very prepared and ready to showcase our skills in London.

In March 2019, we travelled to BBC Broadcasting House, London. We had a 1 hour 30-minute allocated slot to record all of our prepared material as well as the unseen pieces. The session ran really smoothly, and the staff were very complimentary on our professionalism in and out of the recording studio. We all felt that we did our absolute best and came away feeling incredibly proud of what we had achieved.

We have since learnt that this year we didn’t have any winners in our team, but we have a feedback session coming up in May with Peter, where we will get to listen back to our recordings from the competition, along with critiques from the panel. This will be incredibly useful in our ongoing development as actors who are striving to grow and improve.

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