The Riot Act – Our Monthly Newsletter

Welcome to the November issue of the Riot Act. It’s been a barnstorming month for our agency, with campaign launches, news announcements and new client acquisitions to boot. Check these out:

New client win: OKRE

We triumphed in a five-way pitch to represent OKRE (Opening Knowledge across Research and Entertainment), a new global hub of expertise incubated at Wellcome. Building on Wellcome’s work in Broadcast, Games and Film, OKRE connects research, entertainment and social impact professionals, to fuel the development of fresh ideas in both content and research, in order to expand our understanding of the world. Our first job was to launch the organisation and announce Lucy Prebble as the recipient of the Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship earlier this week. Read more here.

Aardman and Netflix announce holiday special, Robin Robin

Last week, we deployed our corporate communications expertise, helping our client Aardman announce news of its ground-breaking new stop-motion musical Robin Robin which will be shown on Netflix in 2020. It’s the first time Aardman have created new IP for Netflix, and our full-page Guardian exclusive was then picked up around the world. Watch this space for further heart-warming updates on the robin adopted by a family of mice…

Record-breaking year for Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting

In our first year working with Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre, our unconventional approach resulted in helping the playwriting prize achieve the highest level of entrants and engagement since it began in 2005, as well as smashing our media relations targets. Unpicking the original brief, our intelligent, disruptive questioning enabled us to get to the heart of what the client wanted to achieve. Working with the in-house team across media, talent, online and social, we helped secure a 115% uplift on entries to date, including increases in traditionally underrepresented demographics. Our work culminated in the announcement of this year’s winner, Phoebe Eclair-Powell, for whom we secured interviews across a variety of national media outlets, many new to the Prize. Bosh!

Happy 40th anniversary London Review of Books

The LRB throw a good party, and for their 40th, we headed to Banqueting Hall in Whitehall for an evening of celebration with some of the paper’s supporters, old and new. As the gin flowed, Editor at Large, Andrew O’Hagan treated guests to highlights from the past four decades before a toast was raised to their legendary Editor, Mary-Kay Willmers (pictured). A paper bucking the trend of declining print sales, we are proud to be the LRB’s retained agency, helping showcase fine long-from writing – here’s to the next 40 years!

When Hephzie met Björn

Our lucky colleague, Hephzie, led a press trip to Sweden for our client, The Astrid Lindgren Company, as part of our work to raise awareness of Pippi Longstocking and her creator ahead of Pippi’s 75th in May 2020. Media were treated to a few days in Stockholm with partners Visit Sweden, taking in a tour of Lindgren’s apartment, a conversation with Pussy Riot members about art and activism, and a meeting with the legendary Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, at the announcement of his brand new Pippi circus musical, which opens next summer. The rest of us were very jealous…

News in brief:

We helped Artemis Fowl creator and all-round top bloke Eoin Colfer launch The Fowl Twins; provided consultancy and media relations expertise for the Rebel Girls team upon launch of two new titles; and worked with The Duchess of Cornwall and Clarence House to announce Moomin Characters’ sponsorship of The Royal Commonwealth Society’s essay writing competition.

Riot Recommends

Looking for cultural inspiration? Here are our top (non-Riot related therefore unbiased!) picks – you’re welcome!

Book your tickets for All Points East (May 2020), where Tame Impala will be headlining the Saturday. Get cosy on the sofa and watch Modern Love (what started as a New York Times column is now a must-see Amazon Prime show). We’re campaigning for a West-End transfer of National Theatre Wales’ production of On Bear Ridge, starring Rhys Ifans. And finally, Steve McQueen’s Year 3 project can be seen at the Tate or on a billboard near you.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Competition 2020 launched by the Duchess of Cornwall


  • ‘Climate Action in the Commonwealth’ announced as 2020 theme
  • Moomin Characters appointed principal sponsor of the Competition

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Vice-Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, has today launched The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2020 at Tūranga library in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The 2020 theme, ‘Climate Action in the Commonwealth’, encourages young writers from across the globe to explore the many facets of this critical issue, which will dramatically shape the future of the Commonwealth’s 1.6 billion citizens under the age of 30.

The selection of this environmental theme is particularly welcomed by the Competition’s new principal sponsor, Moomin Characters, which has a long history of charitable work, particularly championing causes that align with the values of friendship, tolerance, open-mindedness, respect for nature and the power of storytelling. The Moomins, created by the Finnish artist Tove Jansson, are a family of friendly, round trolls who live in Moominvalley with their diverse group of friends and acquaintances. Featured as a comic strip in 1954 in the world’s largest newspaper at the time – London’s The Evening News – the Moomins are much loved characters across the Commonwealth and beyond.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition aims to challenge young people’s thinking and the means by which they can express their views, using creative forms of writing such as essays, poems, stories or scripts. Since 2010, it has received nearly 100,000 entries, from hundreds of schools across almost every Commonwealth country. Entries are judged by 150 pan-Commonwealth volunteers. The winners are selected by an expert panel, including poets, publishers, scriptwriters and journalists.

The Competition has been run by the Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883, and culminates with winners and runners-up traveling to London for a week-long series of educational and cultural events, typically including an Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The theme was launched during an assembly of local school children, who had earlier participated in a writing workshop at the library involving local authors, educators and New Zealand’s Poet Laureate, David Eggleton. During the assembly, Her Royal Highness took the opportunity to present a number of certificates to high-level winners from the 2019 Competition.

Sophia Jansson, creative director of Moomin Characters and niece of Tove Jansson, said:
“The power of reading and writing and the importance of working together to protect our planet are both very important to us, and they come together in such a beautiful way in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2020. Each year, the themes of the Competition are around community and collaboration. We’re very proud that in the first year of our sponsorship this is applied to the environment. The passion and intelligence of young people will be crucial in tackling the climate crisis, so we are very excited to see what entrants have to say in response to the topics that have been set for 2020.”

The National Centre for Writing launches two new awards for early career writers

The National Centre for Writing (NCW) has today (Monday 25th November) launched two new awards for writers at the beginning of their careers: The University of East Anglia (UEA) New Form Writing Award and the Laura Kinsella Fellowship.

The UEA New Form Writing Award, worth £4,000 to the winner, will champion an innovative and daring new voice in fiction. It will be awarded to a writer at the beginning of their career whose work might collaborate with other art-forms or in site specific/site responsive ways, experiment with forms of performance or print, challenge traditional form or inhabit a digital space. The winner will also receive a bespoke period of development, which may include mentoring, learning opportunities and promotional platforms, depending on their ambition and need.

The Laura Kinsella Fellowship, also worth £4,000, has been set up to support writers experiencing limiting circumstances or whose voices are underrepresented in mainstream literary fiction. It will be awarded to one exceptionally talented early career writer of literary fiction, who will also benefit from a bespoke programme of professional development and promotional opportunities. This may include space and time to write, mentoring, residency or research trips, introductions to the industry or engagement with existing NCW programmes.

These two new prizes will fall under the NCW’s Early Career Awards, which represents a new model for literary prizes combining the power of a private trust with the unique year-round programme of NCW. The Desmond Elliott Prize, the running of which has been taken on by the NCW as announced in September of this year, is the flagship in the NCW’s Early Career Awards portfolio.

Peggy Hughes, Programme Director, National Centre for Writing said:

“Most writers face challenges at the beginnings of their careers, but these challenges can be exacerbated by other factors – for example, by coming from a group underrepresented in literary fiction, or by choosing to write more unusual, experimental work. These two new awards aim to improve access to opportunity for early career writers facing these particular difficulties. Through them, we are aiming to provide comprehensive, tailored programmes of support, where the financial assistance is one element of a wider package, to help promising talent overcome these specific, identified barriers to publication.”

Arts Council England (ACE) will increase the impact of the Early Career Awards by contributing towards an early career digital programme providing resources, professional development and industry advice as a free public resource for new writers. The ACE support will also enable a tailored early career programme for the winning writers which will include residency opportunities, mentoring and industry support to help them build a sustainable career.

Professor Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing at UEA, said:

‘New opportunities and collaborations for literary writing and sustainability are rapidly opening up as the digital revolution continues to reshape both creation and dissemination. This award aims to embrace that change and support emerging writers who are exploring radically new literary models and frontiers. This is a wonderful opportunity to help shape the literary landscape of the future, and we are delighted to be working on this immensely important scheme with our longstanding partners National Centre for Writing, and with ACE support.’

Alice Jolly from the Laura Kinsella Foundation, said:

‘In the world of writing and publishing, it is vitally important that we hear all of the voices. The Laura Kinsella Foundation is thrilled to support the National Centre of Writing in providing opportunities for early career writers of literary fiction who are facing particular challenges.’

The submissions deadline for both prizes is Friday 17th January. Both prizes are free to enter. Both are open to writers who live in England at the time of application and until at least June 2021, are over the age of 18, have not published a debut novel or short story collection, and propose a clear case for support.

For further information about the submissions process, please visit:


We’re hiring: Office and Campaigns Assistant

Are you looking for your first step into the PR industry? Do you want to gain valuable insight and experience in public relations? Are you passionate about culture and entertainment? Riot Communications is seeking enthusiastic and energetic self-starters to assist our team.

About Riot Communications:

Riot specialises in culture and entertainment PR because, like our clients, we want to make a positive impact in the world. We are purpose and integrity driven: we passionately believe that both culture and entertainment help promote empathy, creativity, respect for others and joy. We are guided by the four principles of the Riot ethos: intelligence, passion, collaboration and disruption which drives everything we do: from the clients we choose to work with, how we deliver our work and who we hire.

We work with some of the best creatives in the world – writers, artists, actors and visionaries. Clients include Penguin Random House, Aardman, Mammoth Screen, DeepMind, Moomin Characters, The Astrid Lindgren Company, London Review of Books, and the Royal Society. Recent work includes: hosting A-list talent such as Jennifer Saunders, Taron Egerton and Rosamund Pike at the world premiere of Moominvalley in Finland; securing Stormzy for the annual #PenguinPresents showcase at the London Palladium; masterminding the launch of the new book by the legendary Philip Pullman; getting more kids into science promoting the annual Christmas Lectures on the BBC; and finding the most exciting new fiction voice of the year.

We actively support BME PR Pros, the Taylor Bennett Foundation and Women in PR because…well, if it needs to be explained, we are probably not the right agency for you.

About the role:

You will be in charge of office administrative duties to ensure the smooth running of the office, as well as assisting the team on the execution of various PR campaigns as required. You will receive on-the-job training, the responsibility and opportunity to help run an office and deliver projects and a one-to-one line manager to help guide your development.

Examples of office administration responsibilities:

  • Answering phone calls politely and promptly – dealing with enquiries, message taking
  • Managing post efficiently – incoming and out-going
  • Accurately booking couriers, travel and accommodation for team members and clients when required
  • Co-ordinating mailings
  • Using Microsoft office packages, Dropbox and other pieces of administrative software
  • Booking meeting rooms and providing refreshments, setting up AV equipment
  • Distributing newspapers among the team
  • Ordering and managing office supplies
  • Creating timesheet reports using our online project management app, Paymo
  • Managing expenses
  • Processing invoices

Examples of campaign administration responsibilities:

  • Managing press cuttings that come through our cutting’s agency, Kantar media, twice a day. Creating and formatting coverage reports for our clients
  • Co-ordinating mailings and producing mailing lists using our media database
  • Press release distribution – mailing of press releases to relevant individuals and outlets via our media database, Gorkana
  • Keeping project meeting agendas, transcribing meeting notes and taking meeting minutes as appropriate
  • Managing event logistics including for example venue hire, photographers, taxi and hotel bookings
  • Managing launch/event invite lists including mailings and RSVPs
  • Keeping campaign budget spreadsheets up to date

You will have at least one year’s experience of office administration or similar in a professional setting. You will have a clear idea of what PR is, why you want to work in this industry and what you can bring to it. You will be a highly motivated, passionate, curious and solutions oriented individual; have exceptional attention to detail; have outstanding multi-tasking skills; be super organised and dependable and have a proactive, can-do approach. You will be unafraid of hard work and mucking in and will enjoy the challenge of working in a fast-paced, creative environment. You will have a natural curiosity for the media and be interested in the ways brands harness consumer trends, culture and current affairs to communicate and influence customers. You will be a digital native and feel very comfortable running social media accounts, for example.

Key skills:

  • Reliability
  • Adaptability
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft packages and Dropbox
  • Excellent command of written and oral English

The selection process:

We are seeking creative individuals with an ambition to succeed in the PR industry. Your enthusiasm for working at Riot Communications, your flair, can-do attitude and strong work ethic will be evident in your application. You will have at least one year’s experience of office administration or similar in a professional setting.

Interviews will take place at our offices in Bethnal Green. Only candidates invited to interview will receive a reply.

To apply please send us your CV and a short covering letter to Please include ‘Application for Assistant’ in the subject header.  

Deadline for applications is 5pm, Monday 9th December 2019.

Summary of main terms and conditions:

Job title:
Office and Campaigns Assistant – Permanent position


Riot Communications,
Studio 113, The Pill Box,
115 Coventry Road, Bethnal Green,
London, E2 6GG

Full time 9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday

25 days plus bank holidays

Hold the plasticine: Aardman’s new look for musical made with Netflix


  • Production Company: Aardman: Four time Academy Award winners, ten time Academy Award nominees, creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts, Chicken Run, and many more
  • Creators/Directors: Dan Ojari (Slow Derek – Grand Prix: Animated Encounter) and Mikey Please (The Eagleman Stag – BAFTA: Best Animated Short, Marilyn Myller – McLaren Award: Edinburgh Film Festival)
  • Producer: Helen Argo (Tate Movie Project, Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels )
  • Executive Producer: Sarah Cox (Tate Movie Project and BAFTA nominated Heavy Pockets)
  • Logline: When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.
  • “When Mikey and Dan first pitched us the concept for Robin Robin we knew instantly that this was a rare and special project that we had to make together. It’s a beautifully crafted stop-frame musical that immediately feels classic whilst being groundbreaking and modern.” — Sarah Cox, Executive Producer.
  • “Together with Aardman, we’re thrilled to celebrate and introduce new generations of families around the world to the craft of stop motion animation through Robin Robin, a magical tale that warms the heart and can be enjoyed by the whole family.” — Alexi Wheeler, Manager of Kids and Family International Originals at Netflix.
  • Robin Robin is currently in production at Aardman’s award-winning studio in the UK and will debut on Netflix in time for the holidays in 2020.
  • A number of Aardman’s beloved films, such as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, and Shaun the Sheep Movie are currently available for members to enjoy on Netflix in most countries.
  • Robin Robin will join Netflix’s growing family-friendly animated slate, which includes Sergio Pablos’s Klaus (streaming now), Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, Glen Keane’s Over The Moon, Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Chris Williams’ Jacob and the Sea Beast, and Mark Osborne’s Escape From Hat.

About Netflix: Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with over 158 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

About Aardman: Aardman, based in Bristol (UK) and co-founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, is an independent and multi-award-winning studio. It produces feature films, series, advertising, interactive entertainment – such as the ‘visually astonishing’ (The Guardian) console game, 11-11: Memories Retold, and the four-times Gold Cannes Lions-winning StorySign app – and innovative attractions for both the domestic and international market, including a new 4D theatre attraction at Efteling in the Netherlands. Their productions are global in appeal, novel, entertaining, brilliantly characterised and full of charm reflecting the unique talent, energy and personal commitment of the Aardman team. The studio’s work – which includes the creation of much-loved characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph – is often imitated, and yet the company continues to lead the field producing a rare brand of visually stunning content for cinema, broadcasters, digital platforms and live experiences around the world. In November 2018 it became an Employee Owned Organisation, to ensure Aardman remains independent and to secure the creative legacy and culture of the company for many decades to come.

Phoebe Eclair-Powell wins the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting


  • Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s play Shed: Exploded View named the overall winner of the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 
  • Three compelling scripts win in the ‘Judges Award’, ‘Original New Voice’ and ‘International Award’ categories 
  • Two shortlisted plays receive special recognition from the judges  


Today, Monday 4th November 2019, Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s play, SHED: EXPLODED VIEWhas been named the overall winner of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting during a ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. As well as receiving £16,000, Eclair-Powell will work with the Royal Exchange Theatre’s creative team to develop the script 

Eclair-Powell is an award-winning writer from South East London. Her previous plays have had critical acclaim, with one of her shows, FURY, winning the Soho Young Writer’s Award and having an extended run at Soho Theatre due to popular demand. She joins the Bruntwood Prize’s prestigious alumni of playwrights including Katherine Soper, Phil Porter, Duncan Macmillan, Alistair McDowall, Vivienne Franzmann, Anna Jordan, Janice Okoh and Tim X Atack. 

Described by the writer as an “explosion in actionSHED: EXPLODED VIEW, spans 30 years and sees three couples navigate family life, complex relationships and loss. Audiences are invited to make the connections between the characters and feel the impact of violence through a series of non-linear short scenes. 

The play is inspired by Cornelia Parker’s art piece Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View made with the restored contents of a garden shed exploded by the British ArmyParker uses the surviving fragments to create an installation suspended from the ceiling as if captured mid-explosion.  

On winning the overall 2019 Bruntwood Prize, Phoebe Eclair-Powell said: “I began writing this play when I read on a domestic violence blog that someone had been stabbed with a fork in the face and that the fork had stood out and reverberated. It was such a haunting, horrific story and it sat with me for years. It’s taken me three years to write this play. I kept returning to that image and seeing that domestic violence statistics continue to climb and get worse, it became important for me to continue this story. I wrote this script from the heart and I’m so grateful to Bruntwood and to the Royal Exchange Theatre for this award. 

Also announced at the ceremony were  the winners of three Prize categories: AKEDAH by Michael John O’Neill won the debut writer’s category, Original New Voice; GLEE & ME by Stuart Slade was awarded the Judges Award and New York based writer Kimber Lee’s UNTITLED F*CK MISS SA*GON PLAY (SRSLY THIS IS NOT THE TITLE) scooped the International Award, a newly introduced category for the 2019 Prize. Michael John O’Neill, Stuart Slade and Kimber Lee each take home £8,000 and their scripts will begin a development process with the Royal Exchange Theatre. 

The four winning plays were judged and chosen from a 15-strong shortlist of established, emerging and debut playwrights.  

Due to the high calibre of scripts in this year’s record-breaking entries, the judges also awarded Dave Harris and Jody O’Neill £4,000 each as a commendation for their captivating playsTAMBO & BONES and BALLYBAILE respectively 

Bryony ShanahanJoint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and judge for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, said: “This year’s Bruntwood shortlist was exceptional, the plays continually surprised us as judges both in subject matter and in form; they felt alive, contemporary and kept us debating for hours. SHED: EXPLODED VIEW is ambitious, nuanced and goes right to the heart of the human experience. When I first read it, it felt like a punch to the guts – it is precise and considered, a beautiful tapestry of ideas meticulously woven together, but it is also astonishingly emotional. Phoebe’s characters are so well drawn and she deals with themes of female trauma with dignity, offering hope to her characters and the audience along the way. The non-linear form of her play makes for a searing and exhilarating experience, and her words – as the title suggests – explode from the page. This is a beautifully crafted piece of brave, bold and aspirational writing. I am delighted for Phoebe and cannot wait to see where this play goes next. 

Kate Vokes, Director of Social Impact at Bruntwood, added: “Bruntwood is a longstanding champion of the arts, since arts and culture are what bring our cities to life. Our partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre helps nurture new and established creative talent, and I’m delighted to see the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting going from strength to strength; we received a record number of entries this year, of exceptionally high quality. Phoebe Eclair-Powell has written a play that I found deeply moving and I’m looking forward to seeing her and our other three Prize winners continue to make their mark in the industry.” 

The Winning Plays 

1. Overall Winner: 

 SHED: EXPLODED VIEW by Phoebe Eclair-Powell 

SHED: EXPLODED VIEW is a jigsaw play that invites the audience to make the connections between characters and how their stories fit. At different stages of their lives, the characters navigate love, life, marriage, parenthood and the modern world in a series of short scenes. Phoebe Eclair-Powell is a writer from South East London who was made resident playwright at Soho Theatre for 2016 and 2017 through the Channel 4 Playwright scheme. Phoebe also writes for Channel 4 Continuing Drama HOLLYOAKS. 

The judges said: This script is gut-wrenchingly moving, stark in its violence and thrilling in its narrative quickness.  The observation of the human condition is beautiful, vivid and profound.  It is a staggeringly ambitious piece of work with a very clear concept and sense of theatricality. It stays with you long after the experience within it.” 

2. Judges Award 

GLEE & ME by Stuart Slade 

London-based playwright Stuart Slade’s previous plays include BU21 (Trafalgar Studios) and CANS (Theatre503). GLEE & ME is a one-woman play which sees 16-year-old Lola delivering a monologue charting her journey after being diagnosed with a rare, degenerative neurological condition. 

The judges said: “GLEE & ME is a beautifully empathetic piece of writing, with a character who weaves her way into your life and becomes your best friend. This is an important play about strength, compassion, and the human spirit.” 

3. Original New Voice (for debut writers) 

AKEDAH by Michael John O’Neill 

Glasgow-based producer Michael John O’Neill has worked with companies including Blood of the Young, Tron Theatre, Theatre Gu Leòr, National Theatre of Scotland, SUPERFAN, Little King, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, The Arches and Traverse Theatre. His first full length play, AKEDAH centres on two sisters who, after two years apart, find each other and discuss their abusive past. The play explores religion, abuse and forgiveness in Northern Ireland. 


The judges said: “There are lovely flashes of dialogue and a sense of theatrical ambition throughout the play.  The conversations are stimulating and thought provoking and the stunning ending stays with us long after.” 

4. International Award: 


New York-based playwright Kimber Lee’s work has been presented by The Lark, Page 73, Hedgebrook, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Old Globe Theater, and Magic Theatre. Her shortlisted play UNTITLED F*CK MISS SA*GON PLAY (SRSLY THIS IS NOT THE TITLE), is a fresh look at absurd Asian stereotypes across American entertainment. The piece parodies media from 1949’s SOUTH PACIFIC through to 2016’s MOANAwith a smart political commentary. 

The judges said: “Full of sharp wit, this play is absolutely staring into the belly of the beast in society in a human, warm, and utterly engaging way.”